Dear Reader, Great question. According to the 2012 Health Confidence Survey sponsored by the Employee Benefit Research Institute, 27 percent of workers said they'd retire earlier if health insurance weren't an issue. So you're in good company!
And the good news is that you've heard correctly -- as of Oct. 1, many states and the federal government began offering health insurance plans, with coverage beginning in January 2014.
In many cases, insurance premiums may be more affordable relative to the cost of current policies -- especially for those of us who are 50-plus. And subsidies are available at certain income levels, potentially bringing the costs down even more. Plus, and perhaps most importantly, you can't be turned down because of a pre-existing condition.
So, yes, the new health-care law may make it easier for you to take early retirement -- but there are still a number of things to consider before you do.
Research your options
The first thing to do is get the basic information from either your state's exchange or the federal exchange. You can go to healthcare.gov to get started. You'll find details on the types of plans offered, what they cost and how to enroll. Plans are categorized as Platinum, Gold, Silver and Bronze. All cover certain essential benefits, but premiums and out-of-pocket costs vary.
As you research the plans, keep your retirement budget in mind. Figure out how much you can afford to spend on premiums each month and how much you could handle in out-of-pocket expenses to cover deductibles, copays and coinsurance, as well as anything that may not be covered.
As an example, using the calculator developed by the Kaiser Family Foundation (kff.org/health-reform), a Silver policy for an over-21 nonsmoker making $60,000 a year would have an annual premium of about $3,000 with maximum out-of-pocket expenses of $6,350. A Bronze plan would have lower premiums with a higher out-of-pocket maximum; a Platinum plan would have higher premiums with a lower out-of pocket maximum.
Costs do vary depending on where you live and your age (premiums for an older person can't be more than three times that of a younger person), but this gives you a general idea.
Manage your income to get possible subsidies
Your income also comes into play. If your modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) is below certain levels, you may qualify for subsidies in the form of a premium tax credit. For instance, a family of two with an MAGI of up to $62,040 would qualify for a subsidy.
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