High risk pools and pre-existing condition plans. Many states have high-risk pool programs that help people with medical problems get health insurance. If you have been uninsured for six months, have a pre-existing condition, and have been denied coverage because of a health condition, you may be able to get health insurance through a pre-existing condition insurance plan. PCIPs were created by the healthcare reform bill to make health coverage available to individuals who have been denied health insurance by private insurance companies. Every state is required by law to have a PCIP. If you live in one of the 23 states where the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services runs the program, the monthly premium for a 50-year-old enrollee ranges from $267 to $605, depending on your state of residence and the plan options you choose. But it's generally not a good idea to voluntarily go without coverage for half a year in order to qualify. "No one with a pre-existing condition should go uninsured for six months," says Davenport-Ennis "If you spend six months uninsured with a pre-existing condition, your disease can move to a new status and you may not be able to get control of it again."
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."
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."