An early retirement can be a reward for hard work, smart choices, careful savings and luck. But even if the mortgage is paid off, there’s no consumer debt to consider and you have sufficient retirement savings, the freedom of an early retirement won’t be carefree without the protection of health insurance.
As an early retiree, you have the option of continuing your health insurance policy and benefits from your previous employer through COBRA. COBRA Continuation Health Coverage allows qualified employees and their families to continue the medical insurance benefits provided by their former employers’ group health plans for temporary periods that vary according to the individuals’ circumstances. As a voluntary separation, early retirement qualifies a retiree for this option. The length of COBRA benefits, however, is temporary and ranges from 18 months to 36 months.
In addition to being limited as to the length of time it can be used, COBRA policies are often considered too expensive, especially to employees who have been accustomed to their employers’ partial payment of premiums. Unless one is considering retirement at age 63 ½, there still will be a period in which he or she may be uninsured and unprotected from medical debt.
The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) has long been a resource for individuals of any age planning for retirement, seeking advice on aging well, wise financial planning and remaining healthy from middle age plus. AARP’s website award-winning section, ‘Health’, is a robust collection of information on exercise, medical studies, new medicines, drug side effects, avoiding chronic illnesses and healthy aging. The organization encourages early investigation of baby boomers’ financial readiness to retire, including having adequate supplemental Medicare insurance and the appropriate Medigap policy for each reader. The organization offers a number of insurance options, including life, car and dental policies. Finally, membership in AARP provides a wealth of discounts for thousands of health-related products at hundreds of businesses.
In addition to the health insurance advantages available with a membership, AARP offers its members a host of discounts for products and services. Whether you choose a quiet, leisurely retirement or you’re planning to travel and stay active, these discounts can help you save money and enjoy your newfound free time. Discounts include:
|Shopping discounts||Teleflora, Walgreen’s and Michaels|
|Dining and entertainment discounts||Denny’s, The Oceanaire and Regal Entertainment Group|
|Home, auto and technology discounts||ADT Home Security, Geek Squad and The UPS Store|
|Health and wellness discounts||Dunham’s Sports and HearUSA|
|Travel discounts||Enterprise, Variety Cruises and Ramada Worldwide|
Financial health is an essential element of retirement, and AARP offers members a range of financial services, including Financial Guidance Services provided by Charles Schwab, the AARP ® Visa® card from Chase, and the AARP® Auto Insurance Program from The Hartford.