How to Get Retiree Health Insurance Before 65

There are several ways to maintain health coverage until you qualify for Medicare.

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Part-time job. If you are still able and willing to work in retirement, some companies provide health benefits to part-time employees. Starbucks, for example, offers health benefits to part-time employees who work a minimum of 240 hours in each calendar quarter, or about 20 hours a week. Find out the requirements to qualify for the health plan and make sure you stay ahead of the cutoff. "If you don't think you can get individual health insurance because of your health status, you are better off staying employed," says Deloitte health actuary John Schubert. "Some people will take a part-time job with reduced work hours or take a job they are overqualified for just to get health insurance."

[See 10 Ways to Boost Your Social Security Checks.]

Exchanges coming in 2014. People who retire before age 65 will be able to purchase health insurance through insurance exchanges beginning in 2014, with tax credits for those with low and moderate incomes. "On July 1, 2012, you could take COBRA for a year and a half and then be able to purchase health insurance through the exchanges in 2014," says Schubert. The risk is that the health reform law could be changed before exchanges become operational and then you won't have a guaranteed way to buy health insurance. Says Schubert: "I would personally wait until after the 2012 election to find out how likely it is that you can do this."

Twitter: @aiming2retire