There are a lot of factors to weigh when deciding where to retire: Things like weather, proximity to family and, perhaps most importantly, cost.
But retirees may not consider how health care costs vary depending on where they retire. You may think Medicare covers the cost of all your health needs in old age, but it's not free.
Beneficiaries must pay premiums, co-pays, deductibles and other out-of-pocket health care costs. That's why federally approved private health insurers sell Medicare supplement insurance, or "Medigap" plans, to help cover these expenses.
The cost of Medigap insurance varies from state to state. HowMuch.net mapped data from HealthView Services, a producer of health care cost-projection software, to show the cost of Medigap plans in each state.
Massachusetts ($1,947), Nevada ($1,904) and Louisiana ($1,897) had the highest average annual prices for Medigap plans.
Hawaii ($1,310), New Mexico ($1,464), Iowa ($1,468) and Oregon ($1,468) had the cheapest Medigap plans.
A spread of $637 may not seem like enough to change where you retire, but every dollar counts on a fixed income, especially because Medigap plans don't cover health care costs like prescription drugs, long-term care, vision care, dental care or hearing aids.
You'll also have to pay a deductible for Medigap coverage. Deductibles range from $183 to $5,240, a cost you'll bear before any coverage kicks in.
You may be able to save on Medigap costs if you're eligible for any discounts. Women, non-smokers and people with multiple policies may be able to get a lower premium.
Paying premiums yearly or via electronic funds transfer may also qualify you for a discount.
Health care can be a significant cost for retirees. A couple retiring this year should expect to spend $280,000 for health care before they die, Fidelity Investments estimated.
How can you save up for your health care costs when you retire? Depending on your age, they may be even higher than $280,000 by the time you decide to stop working.
Health savings accounts may help you afford out-of-pocket costs. With an HSA, contributions, earnings and withdrawals for eligible medical expenses are tax-free. Once you turn 65, you can make penalty-free withdrawals from your HSA for any reason. As such, it's common for people to use HSAs as a supplemental retirement account.
Health care costs are unpredictable though, especially if you're far away from retirement. As you would for all your retirement expenses, you should plan, save and invest as prudently as you can.
Aiming for a comfortable retirement? You can always work longer, but you should also read up on other ways to meet your retirement goals.
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