If you want to retire before becoming eligible for Medicare at age 65, you need to plan for managing your healthcare insurance costs.
Private health insurance can be expensive, but premium tax credits related to your post-retirement level of income can significantly lower costs.
There also are lower-cost insurance options for bridging the gap, including High Deductible Health Plans and short-term insurance.
This page’s information may assist you before deciding on health insurance or Medicare but does not advise financial decisions or financial planning.
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You’re planning to retire before 65. It’s a significant decision that may lead down a tricky path: how much health insurance do I need before I’m eligible for Medicare?
With some careful planning, there are ways to successfully bridge the gap between early retirement health insurance and Medicare at 65. Let’s get started.
You won’t find a standard cost for all health insurance premiums. Several factors determine your monthly premium. Suppose you retire before 65 and visit Healthcare.gov to select an Affordable Care Act-compliant policy to replace your employer-sponsored group plan. In that case, you will see a wide variety of insurance options and costs.
How is a health insurance premium calculated?
Insurance carriers consider life factors like location, age, dependents, etc., before setting plan premiums. Gold plans set the standard in the government-sponsored Marketplace, followed by silver and then bronze plans. You can find rates specific to your circumstances by visiting the Marketplace and entering your age, gender and zip code.
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If your healthcare spending is high and you’re looking for ways to reduce your costs,
- Start by using all your benefits.
- Take advantage of preventive care.
- Make sure you’re not overpaying for things like prescription drugs.
There are several ways for you to reduce the amount you spend on your health. If you have questions about using all your benefits, a licensed insurance agent can help review your plan.
Can I buy health insurance on my own?
During Open Enrollment or a Special Enrollment Period, you can purchase an individual plan. Depending on what you need, this option may be affordable or possibly expensive. If you didn’t qualify for any savings on ACA plans at Healthcare.gov, it may be worth your time to research plans outside of the federal marketplace.
Premium tax credits can bring your bottom line down significantly. To qualify, you must select your plan at Healthcare.gov. And for someone newly retired, those tax credits could change the game.
How does the premium tax credit work?
The premium tax credit is a refundable tax credit designed to make health insurance affordable for people with moderate to low income. To qualify for the premium tax credit, you must enroll in your health insurance plan through the Health Insurance Marketplace, also called the Exchange.
Your annual income will determine your eligibility for the tax credit. If you are eligible, you have options to either take the credit amount in advance or wait until you file taxes.
Can I use retirement savings?
If you’re retiring before 65, another option to pay for health insurance before Medicare is saved or entitled money for retirement. Cashing in some of your retirement could make health insurance more affordable, but may not be for everyone. Some retirement sources count as taxable income.
- Distributions from a 401k and traditional IRA count as taxable income and could therefore help you qualify for premium tax credits in the healthcare marketplace.
- While not taxable, Social Security payments also count as taxable income, but your payments will be smaller if you begin receiving them before full retirement age.
- Roth IRA distributions made after age 59 ½ do not count as taxable income.
Another way to afford health insurance before becoming eligible for Medicare is a more affordable option like a High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP). Especially if you’re in good health, a High Deductible Health Plan has lower monthly premiums and the ability to save money tax-free in a Health Savings Account. Still, you take on more of your out-of-pocket medical costs. HDHPs are available inside and outside of the Healthcare.gov marketplace, but all are required to be ACA-compliant.
Do I have to pay for preventive care?
In most instances, your High Deductible Health Plan will cover preventive services. As long as the provider or facility is part of your plan, you won’t be responsible for out-of-pocket costs. Health insurance is required to cover ten essential benefits, including screenings.
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If you’re near Medicare eligibility and want to save costs on premiums, a short-term health insurance policy may offer lower premiums. Short-term policies aren’t required to be ACA-compliant, which means pre-existing conditions may prevent you from a policy.
How does short-term insurance work?
Short-term policies, with terms ranging from one month to one year, generally have more affordable premiums with a relatively easy approval process. They are not required to cover pre-existing conditions, preventive care and other things required of ACA policies, but they could be a good fit leading up to Medicare eligibility.
Your health is unpredictable, health insurance protects you from unexpected costs that could range in the thousands or higher. Finding an affordable healthcare plan is vital to the well-being of an early retiree. If you’re not sure how to compare benefits and plans, a GoHealth licensed insurance agent can help you find an option to meet your health needs and budget.
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