If you’re a retiree who’s getting ready to leave the workforce, one big expense will loom large: healthcare. If you’re retiring early, chances are that the group health insurance offered by your employer will stop. If you’re lucky, your current group plan may offer a special retiree option like COBRA, which lets former employees, spouses and dependents keep coverage for up to 18 months. Otherwise, you’ll need to find a new source of coverage.
Medicare is the best option for most retirees, especially since they paid into it through payroll taxes throughout their careers. But there are several other options that might work better for you, depending on your situation. For example, if you’re leaving your job to retire and are still more than a year away from turning 65, it might make more sense for you to keep your current health insurance via COBRA or a private insurance plan offered through an organization like AARP or Freelancers Union, or by taking out an individual marketplace plan. If you’re a few years from retirement and are close to Medicare eligibility, however, it might make more sense for you to use the annual open enrollment period to switch to Medicare Parts A and B. This will prevent you from facing costly late penalties if you don’t sign up at your birth date or during the 7-month initial enrollment period that starts three months before the month you turn 65.
In addition to Medicare, you’ll want to consider supplemental Tips for finding the best health insurance after retirement at 65+ health insurance, which can help pay for out-of-pocket costs that Medicare doesn’t cover. These policies are typically referred to as Medigap plans, and our top pick for this type of insurance is Aetna, which consistently ranks highly in The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ annual star ratings.
If you decide to go with a supplemental plan, review the average cost of plans in each marketplace tier before making a selection. This will ensure you get the most cost-effective benefits based on your needs and medical history. If you have a low income, your state’s public health insurance program might be an affordable option as well.
To determine your optimal options, contact a licensed independent agent who can conduct a detailed analysis of your unique health care needs and situation. They’ll ask you questions about your doctors and medications and then compare the costs and benefits of different marketplace plans, Medicare Advantage and Medigap plans. They can also explain how your choices might impact your Medicare premiums. You can find an agent near you at Find a Medicare Agent.