March 26, 2009 / 4:25 AM / 11 years ago

U.S. retiree healthcare costs seen up this year

Volunteer parish nurse Joanie Friend (R) of the Bradley Hills Presbyterian Church checks the medication of elderly patient Hazel Sears (L) at Sears' home in Bethesda, Maryland, September 21, 2007. REUTERS/Jim Bourg

BOSTON (Reuters) - Healthcare costs are chewing up more of retirees’ savings in the United States, with a 65-year-old couple retiring this year needing $240,000 to cover medical costs over the rest of their lives, a study showed.

That is up 6.6 percent from last year’s estimate, according to the research by Fidelity Investments, the world’s largest mutual fund company. The cost includes medical and surgical expenses as well as prescription drugs.

Since Fidelity began tracking the data in 2002, the amount retirees need to cover healthcare costs has risen 6 percent a year on average in the United States — about double the average U.S. inflation rate in that period, the study showed.

Over seven years, the cost has climbed 50 percent.

It assumes projected life expectancies of 82 for men and 85 for women, and that retirees have no employer-provided health care coverage. It excludes over-the-counter medications, most dental services and long-term care.

Reporting by Jason Szep; Editing by Eric Walsh

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