We designed our guide to health insurance for retirees to help you explore your options quickly and efficiently. After all your hard work, you deserve to enjoy your retirement without worrying about paying for healthcare expenses. Despite rising healthcare costs, there are several ways you can slash the price tag of staying healthy. We will help you understand what’s on the table.
Employer-sponsored Health Insurance for Retirees
Your current employer may sponsor specific healthcare benefits designed for its retirees. Depending on how long you’ve worked for your company, you may be able to tap into these even if you retire today. For instance, some companies provide group health insurance plans for early retirees. In such cases, your company may supplement your medical expenses by covering part of the premium for these plans even after you’ve left the office.
These benefits are more common among large employers with at least 200 employees. According to a study by the Kaiser Foundation, 25% of large employers offered retiree health coverage in 2017. And while the rate climbed to 40% in 1999, you should still reach out to your benefits department. Learn all about their health insurance plans, as well as how they change when employees retire.
But even if your employer doesn’t provide its employees with specific retiree benefits, a special provision in a government program allows you to keep your employer-sponsored health insurance plan to a certain extent after you leave your job.
Keeping Your Employer’s Health Insurance Plan Through COBRA
If you’re currently enrolled in an employer-sponsored health insurance plan you like, you may be able to keep it temporarily. This is made possible through the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA). The program typically applies to companies with at least 20 employees, as well as some state and city government entities.
It allows you and your family to keep your employer-sponsored health insurance plan for up to 18 months after you retire or lose your job. However, you’d be responsible for the entire premium. The insurance company can also slap up to 2% on the price tag for administrative costs.
But if the plan is still worth the price, you can trigger COBRA by contacting the health plan within 30 days after leaving your company. The insurance carrier will then contact you and provide you with instructions on how to elect COBRA. Because these plans change frequently, pay close attention to the details. You’d want to make sure your preferred specialists stay in the insurer’s network, for example.
But don’t fret if you come down with sticker shock after you leave your job. You have more options.
Health Insurance Marketplace
When you retire, you can sign up for a plan through the federal Health Insurance Marketplace. And there’s good news: A marketplace insurance plan still can’t reject you or charge you more due to pre-existing conditions under the Trump Administration.
However, the “affordable” part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is still vague at best. For some plans, premiums can climb to $1,000 a month. So make sure you shop around for the best priced plans that can cover the healthcare services you need the most. But if you make below a certain income, you may be eligible for lower costs via federal subsidies.
Still, you can find plans that are more beneficial to you outside the government exchange.
Private Health Insurance
You can buy a health insurance plan directly from an insurance company outside the federal marketplace. A health insurance agent can also help. You should seek a health insurance agency in your area that holds contracts with the major local providers.
An agent can help you find the best health plans based on your individual needs and financial situation.
You can also turn to the State Health Insurance Assistance Program.
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