One of the biggest concerns for someone facing retirement is figuring out how one’s healthcare costs will be covered. Especially in the last few years, there have been a multitude of changes in healthcare costs, benefit options, and pension elections. Your health insurance options will also change depending on your age of retirement and the retirement package provided to you by your employer.

Health insurance options for those considering early retirement

If you’re looking at early retirement, you may have saved enough money for your living expenses, but you may not be eligible for a healthcare package. Unfortunately, there is no magic package for an individual who is eligible to retire before age 65. Instead, you’ll need to weigh all of your options to see what will work best for you.

For example, my mother was 59½ at the time of her retirement. She worked for 35 years at a local hospital, so she had accrued the number of years needed to retire without tax implications. However, as she was not yet 65 when she retired, she lost her health benefits but did not yet qualify for Medicare. Luckily, my mother was able to get health insurance through my father’s business to cover her healthcare needs until she turned 65.

If you’re under 65 when you retire and you don’t qualify for COBRA, for a spouse’s health insurance plan, or for a plan through your retirement package, you may need to look into purchasing an individual plan. Contact a health insurance company in your state and ask to speak to the individual health insurance department for more information.

What you need to know about Medicare and supplemental plans

When you hit age 65, you’ll be eligible for Medicare, but you can also apply for Medicare supplemental insurance to complement your Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B plans.

Medicare supplemental insurance is provided by private insurance companies to fill in the gaps that basic Medicare Part A and B do not cover, such as deductibles and co-pays. This coverage is also known as a Medigap policy.

Medigap plans can be purchased through many different insurance carriers. Different plans cover different elements, and the plans have a wide range of prices. You will want to compare each plan and learn more about how it helps to supplement your Medicare Part A and B coverage.

Medicare can be complicated—for more information, check out the very thorough www.medicare.gov. Then, discuss with your insurance agent what options are available to you and how they can work with your Medicare plan.

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Linda Rey is a licensed insurance agent at Rey Insurance with a broad spectrum of expertise in life, accident, health, property and casualty insurance as well as retirement planning and college funding strategies.

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