Is the thought of losing your employer-sponsored health plan keeping you from retiring early? Don’t stress. There are plenty of ways you can kick off your golden years early while still having affordable health insurance to fall back on when you need it. This guide will walk you through all your options so you can pick the right one and leave the 9-to-5 life for good. And if you want some personalized attention, try our free financial advisor matching tool to get linked to an expert in your area who can best create a strategy for you.
Retire Early With Your Employer Health Plan
Believe it or not, some companies still offer retiree health benefits even if employees leave the office before they reach traditional retirement age. According to a recent study by the Kaiser Foundation, about 25% of companies with at least 200 employees offer these perks.
So your company can still cover your premium in some cases even after you’ve left the working life. You may also be able to sign up as a dependent on your spouse’s employer-sponsored plan.
And if your firm doesn’t offer retiree health benefits, you can likely keep your current plan for a limited time.
The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) makes it possible for certain employees to hold onto their employee benefits for up to 18 months after they leave their job. This perk usually applies to employees from large companies, as well as state and city workers.
The catch, however, is that you’d be responsible for the entire premium. While you work, your employer most likely covers a big chunk. But if the plan offered the benefits and quality care you wanted, it may still be worth the price.
Plus, you can start investing in your health by opening a health savings account (HSA). You can open one as long as you’re enrolled in an eligible high-deductible health plan (HDHP), which several employers offer.
An HSA gives you a triple tax benefit. You contribute toward the account with pre-tax dollars, so it reduces your taxable income. Your investment earnings also grow tax free. And you can take tax-free withdrawals as long as you use the money on qualified health expenses.
If you can’t leave your company with your current health plan in any form, you can always open one through the health insurance marketplace by visiting HealthCare.gov. When you leave your current employer, you can open one outside of the regular open-enrollment period.
But despite the Affordable Care Act (ACA) or “Obamacare,” which made the marketplace possible, some plans carry premiums that spike to more than $1,000 a month. So it’s important to shop around and find the plan that meets your needs and your finances.
Nonetheless, an insurance company on the federal exchange still can’t deny you coverage or increase your premiums because of any pre-existing conditions.
Private Health Insurance
If you’re not satisfied with what you find on the federal health insurance marketplace, you can always turn to the private industry. So surf the web and search for insurance companies that offer the benefits you want at the prices you can afford. But keep in mind, you won’t get any government subsidy you may qualify for through the government exchange. Still, you may find more comprehensive coverage. In any case, keep all options on the table.
A health insurance agent can also help you find one based on your needs. Be sure to do your research on providers and make sure your preferred specialists are in their networks.
If you want to retire early, but you can’t leave with employer-sponsored benefits, take a middle-of-the road approach. Some companies offer benefits to their part-time employees. So it’s important to look for some opportunities in your industry or ones that appeal to your interests. In the meantime, you can still earn some income and save for future health expenses.
There are several ways you can find affordable health insurance and still retire before Medicare kicks in. In some cases, you can keep your employer benefits for 18 months or get special ones designed specifically for retirees. A financial advisor can also help you explore the best options in the federal and private health insurance marketplaces.
Tips on Saving for Healthcare Expenses
- Not everyone’s eligible to open an HSA. But you still have several options when it comes to investing in your future healthcare expenses through interest-bearing accounts such as certificates of deposit (CDs). To help, we published reports on banks with the best CD rates, the best savings accounts and the best money market accounts.
- Retiring early sounds like fun, but it can be costly especially when you lose your benefits package. If you want professional guidance with exploring all your options, we can help you find a qualified financial advisor. Use our SmartAsset advisor matching tool. After you answer some simple questions about your needs, it connects you with up to three local advisors. You can compare their specialties and set up interviews before making a decision to work with one.