Here’s how to find health coverage that fits your new lifestyle.

You’ve spent years preparing for this day. You’ve worked hard, faithfully saved your money, and the time has finally come. Congratulations! You’re about to retire early and will have an abundance of free time on your hands. But before you enter your post-career years, have you considered how not working will affect your health care?

Too Young for Medicare?

Generally, Medicare is available for people age 65 or older. But plenty of people choose to stop working before their 65th birthday and, as retirees, are no longer eligible to receive insurance coverage from their employers. Even if you carefully time your retirement to align with Medicare coverage, a younger spouse might need coverage until they qualify. So how do you manage the gap?

Browse Your Health Insurance Options

Start your search for a health plan at Covered California, a free service that makes purchasing brand-name health insurance easier and more affordable for California residents. Through Covered California, you can shop for health plans and may even receive financial help. Normally, you’d have to wait for the annual open enrollment period to purchase health insurance, but losing an employer-sponsored health coverage due to retirement is considered a qualifying life event that allows you to participate in special enrollment. In most cases, you can report changes to your employment status and purchase a health insurance plan through Covered California within 60 days of your qualifying life event.

Find Out If You Qualify for Financial Help

If you meet specific income requirements, Covered California can match you with financial help that can lower the cost of monthly health insurance premiums. There are also additional savings known as cost-sharing reductions that help reduce out-of-pocket expenses like copays and deductibles. The amount of financial help you may receive is based on your age, how much money you make, your household size and where you live.

Medi-Cal is a separate program that offers free or low-cost health coverage for children and adults with limited income and resources. If you are eligible, you can enroll in Medi-Cal year-round, and no qualifying life event or special enrollment period is required. If your annual household income is at or below 150 percent of the federal poverty level, and you are not eligible for Medi-Cal, you can enroll through Covered California any time of year. Quickly see if you qualify for Medi-Cal or financial help through Covered California by checking your eligibility.

Have a Plan

As an early retiree, you’ve likely planned for years to secure your future. Health insurance is just one more piece of that puzzle. Make sure you have a plan to avoid a gap in coverage and enjoy a relaxing retirement full of happiness and health.

Explore your coverage options with Covered California today, or apply for health insurance now if you’re ready. If you have questions or need assistance, free expert help is available.