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Retiree health care expenses rise


A 65-year-old couple retiring this year without employer-provided retiree health insurance will need about $215,000 to pay for future medical care-related expenses, according to an analysis by Fidelity Investments.

The amount, up from $200,000 last year, includes such expenses as Medicare premiums, copayments and deductibles. The ever-increasing tab for retiree health care expenses comes as the number of employers offering retiree health care coverage dwindles, making future retirees liable for a big chunk of their health care costs.

Still, some employers are taking steps to give employees the ability to build up funds on a tax-favorable basis to pay for retiree health care expenses.

For example, more employers are adding health savings accounts linked to high-deductible health insurance plans, noted Brad Kimbler, a senior vp with Fidelity Employer Services Co., a unit of Boston-based Fidelity. In such arrangements, unused account balances are rolled over year after year, enabling employees to withdraw accumulated balances tax-free to pay for medical expenses when they retire. The maximum annual contribution in 2007 to an HSA is $2,850 for single coverage and $5,650 for family coverage.

A summary of the study is available at