My Health Insurance Is Through My Employer? What Do I Do When I Retire?

Transitioning out of employer health coverage is easier today than it used to be

If you’ve held a stable job for most of your career, it’s likely you haven’t had to give much thought to your health insurance plan. Instead, it’s been a benefit consistently offered through your employer. With retirement approaching, now what? You’ll want to follow the steps below to evaluate your health insurance retirement options.

1. Learn About Your Group Health Insurance Benefits In Retirement

The first thing to do is learn all about your existing health insurance benefits and how they change in retirement.

Do you have the option to continue in your group plan? Have you worked there for enough years, or reached an age where you become vested in certain health insurance benefits? Attend workshops and read all the literature your employer provides on health insurance in retirement.

Starting January 1, 2014, you'll have a lot more choices than you used. New laws will make health insurance available to everyone regardless of pre-existing conditions. Check out how this works in 5 Things You Must Know About the New Health Exchanges.

2. Explore Your Choices For Health Insurance In Retirement

Next, explore your options. When you’re age 65, most of you will become eligible for Medicare, but you’ll still have choices to make. For example, you may want original Medicare, or a Medicare Advantage Plan. Each has its pros and cons. The most accurate information you can find is on Medicare.gov, but after learning all you can you may still want professional help in making such an important decision, which means you’ll want to move on to Step 3.

You'll also want to make sure you build in estimated health care costs into your retirement budget. How much should you plan on spending? The article Rising Health Care Costs and Your Retirement can help you come up with an estimate.

3. Talk To An Agent Contracted With Most Major Carriers To Compare Health Insurance Retirement Choices

Your best choice will be to talk to a health insurance agent who is contracted with most major health plans in your area.

Particularly, look for a health insurance agency that specializes in health insurance in retirement; they can conduct a complete analysis of your options by asking you about your existing doctors and medications and then tell you which plans will provide the most cost-effective benefits based on your personal medical situation.

I found such a health insurance agency with Strategic Growth Insurance Associates. Licensed in over twenty states, they provide a spreadsheet of your options, helping you objectively evaluate your health insurance choices.

4. Once You Have Health Insurance In Retirement, Then What?

Whether over or under age 65, once you have secured health insurance in retirement you should be proactive about evaluating it by conducting an annual review of your coverage options. Benefits and costs change, and it is possible a new plan may offer you better coverage at a lower price; you won’t know unless you look. Once again, you’ll want to talk with an agent who is contracted with all major carries to get an objective analysis.

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