Bridging the gap between retirement and Medicare

The age of Medicare eligibility is now 65. For many American adults, this means that 65 is the age at which they can consider retirement. But not everyone has the luxury of waiting. Sometimes retirement must take place before Medicare eligibility due to illness, job loss or family circumstances.

When this happens, the retiree needs to bridge the gap between retirement and Medicare eligibility. There are four primary options to consider.


The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985, or COBRA, gives you the option to keep the health insurance you had through your job even after retirement. However, you will usually need to pay the full amount of the policy plus a two percent charge. Additionally, the time in which you are allowed to remain on a COBRA policy is limited, so its feasibility will depend on how far in advance of 65 you retire.

Coverage through your spouse

If the retiree has a spouse who is still working and their place of employment offers health coverage, this could be the most affordable option. In most cases, the cost of the policy will increase, but not so much as to cause budget concerns. There is also the possibility of being added to your spouse’s retiree coverage if they have already retired.

Public marketplace

Through the Affordable Care Act, there is a public marketplace that allows anyone access to medical insurance coverage regardless of age and pre-existing conditions. However, the cost of the plans varies significantly. While there are tax credits to make it more affordable, it could still be one of the more expensive options and may not be flexible enough to meet your needs.

Private insurance

Private insurance can be obtained through insurance brokers or private exchanges. This option gives you more variety and potential customization than the public marketplace. Costs are variable, but with the help of an insurance broker a quality plan can likely be found for the right price.

To learn more about health coverage after retirement but before Medicare eligibility, speak with an experienced insurance broker.