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How Does Health Insurance Work in Retirement Before You Are Medicare Eligible?

You aren’t eligible for Medicare until you turn 65. If you retire before 65, you will need health insurance to cover the gap period. Some employers offer retiree health benefits to tide you over until Medicare kicks in; however, there are other options to get health insurance after early retirement.


The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985 (COBRA) lets former employees continue their health insurance for up to 18 months. Check with your company’s HR team to see if you’re eligible – the law doesn’t cover every business.

Individual health insurance plan

You can source health insurance coverage, including short-term insurance plans, through public and private marketplaces.

  • The public marketplace, established by the Affordable Care Act, helps early retirees to find health coverage, and you can’t be denied coverage due to a pre-existing condition.
  • The private marketplace, accessible through insurance brokers and finance companies, may offer you a wider range of insurance policies than the public marketplace. However, exclusions may apply, depending on your pre-existing conditions.

Spouse’s health insurance plan 

If your spouse is still working, see if you can join their health insurance plan by contacting their employer’s HR department. If your spouse is on a retiree health insurance plan, check if you can be added to the policy.

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