Retirement should be a time when you finally get to do the things you’ve always wanted to do with the people who mean the most to you. At Steinlage Insurance Agency, we don’t want worries about your healthcare coverage to keep you from enjoying this new chapter in life. That’s why we are dedicated to helping people transition their healthcare coverage after retirement.
There are several options for maintaining healthcare insurance after retirement. If you retire before you are 65 years old—before you qualify for Medicare—you’ll need to bridge the gap so that you don’t go without coverage. Fortunately, there are several options, including COBRA, private insurance, your spouse’s insurance plan, and the public marketplace.
If you are 65 or over, Medicare will cover a large portion of your medical expenses. However, there are a myriad of supplemental plans that you’ll need to navigate in order to make sure your prescription drugs and other out-of-pocket costs don’t become overwhelming.
Steinlage Insurance Agency helps people understand the ins and outs of Medicare, Medicare supplements, and gap coverage. We know how confusing the alphabet soup of Medicare and its many supplements can be. We can assist you in finding coverage right for you and your individual situation, regardless of where you live in the United States.
What if I Retire Early?
According to research conducted by the Stanford Center on Longevity, only about half of retirees do so by choice. The other half are forced into retirement, either because they lose their jobs, or because of health issues suffered by them or someone they love.
Even those who choose to retire early—say, at 62 when they become eligible for Social Security—may face unanticipated financial implications when it comes to both their income and the cost of their medical care.
For many people, bridging the gap between the time that they actually retire until they reach the age of 65 is a scramble. It can be difficult to find affordable healthcare insurance that provides them with low deductibles and adequate coverage. Plus, as the cost of healthcare, including prescription drugs, continues to rise, good coverage upon retirement is more important than ever.
If you cannot delay your retirement until Medicare kicks in at 65, and you don’t have coverage available through your employer, you have four options:
- COBRA. The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985, or COBRA, lets you continue to receive the healthcare coverage you had while you were employed for a certain period of time. The catch is that you have to pay the full cost of your coverage, including the portion your employer likely paid before you retired, plus an additional 2%.
- Your spouse’s plan. If your spouse continues to work for a few years after you retire, their employer’s healthcare insurance plan may be your best bet. So long as one of you has healthcare coverage supplemented by an employer, or if your spouse has retiree medical coverage, you may be able to obtain coverage in a more cost-effective way.
- Public marketplace. The Affordable Care Act established the healthcare marketplace to provide options for many people, including those who are not yet eligible for Medicare. Because the marketplace is relatively new and legislation regarding it is in flux, the costs of individual plans and the quality of their coverage can vary wildly. Deductibles are often high, and coverage gaps may mean that you’re not covered when you need it most. However, if you can find a plan that works well for you, you may be able to qualify for tax credits to make it more affordable.
- Private insurance. Private insurance plans, some of which we work with at Steinlage Insurance Agency, can provide options and coverage not available to you through the marketplace or anywhere else. These plans, called private exchanges, often offer better coverage and more available options. The key is finding an agent with the knowledge and desire to help you find coverage that works best for you.
Need insurance coverage after retirement? We will explain your options and give you the information you need to make the best choice for you.
Medicare Eligibility, Enrollment, and Penalties
Most people become eligible for Medicare at the age of 65. Unfortunately, Medicare doesn’t simply magically appear. There’s a lot to learn, including how to transition from interim coverage or employer-provided coverage into Medicare.
Here are a few key points to know when transitioning to Medicare:
You must enroll in order to receive coverage. You do not automatically receive benefits when you turn 65. Though you qualify for benefits, you must go through the enrollment process. Visit ssa.gov to learn more about enrollment.
Though you can claim Social Security at the age of 62, you will not qualify for Medicare until you are 65. The only exceptions are if you have certain disabilities, or if you have amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or end-stage renal disease (ESRD).
Medicare may not notify you to enroll. Medicare will only send you an enrollment kit if you are currently receiving railroad retirement or Social Security benefits. If you will be turning 65 within three months, you can enroll in Medicare online. You can also contact Steinlage Insurance Agency so that we can help you decide what coverage options will work best for you.
There are deadlines for Medicare sign-up. If you are currently receiving Social Security benefits, you will automatically be enrolled in Medicare Parts A (hospital insurance) and B (medical services and supplies). Coverage for you will begin the month you turn 65.
If you do not yet receive Social Security benefits, you have seven months to enroll, beginning three months prior to the month of your 65th birthday.
It’s best to enroll as soon as possible. If you wait until the month of your 65th birthday or later to enroll in Medicare Parts A and B, your start date may be delayed. If possible, enroll as close to three months prior to your birth month as you can to make sure you are covered.
If you miss your enrollment period, you’ll be able to enroll between January 1 and March 31 each year for coverage that will begin July 1.
Prescription drug coverage is separate. If you need coverage for prescription drugs, you must enroll for Medicare Part D or a Medicare Advantage plan. The enrollment periods are the same for both types of plans, but Medicare Advantage plans are offered through private agencies like Steinlage Insurance Agency, and often can provide coverage that government-offered Medicare Part D cannot.
Open enrollment runs October 15 through December 7 each year. This period allows you to make changes to your plan, including opting for a Medicare Advantage plan instead of Medicare Part D.
Questions? Call Steinlage Insurance Agency
Transitioning to Medicare during retirement can be a tricky proposition. In fact, Medicare can be tough to navigate, no matter how long you’ve been eligible. That’s why Steinlage Insurance Agency is dedicated to helping people across the country get the most out of their coverage.
The Steinlage family has been helping people to make the best choices for themselves since 1950. We can answer any questions you have and provide you with all the information you need about your Medicare options in a no-pressure environment. In fact, we provide you with the same level of award-winning customer service that our father, William H. Steinlage, Sr., insisted upon for his clients.
If you’ve got questions about transitioning to Medicare after retirement, or any other Medicare inquiries, contact us today! We are here to serve you, no matter where you live in the United States.