Americans have a list of important ages. At 16, it’s time for a driver’s license in most states. At 18, it’s time to register to vote. At 21, people can buy alcohol. At 25, auto insurance usually gets cheaper. The next watershed date in a person’s life after that is probably age 65—the minimum age most people sign up for Medicare.
Thanks to Medicare, millions of American seniors have access to health care. And while the program seems to go through an annual game of political pingpong every time Democrats and Republicans spar over the budget on Capitol Hill, Medicare is a vital part of the American social safety net.
Another strategy pre-retirees use is to take advantage of COBRA, which allows employees to stay on an employer’s group plan after they leave a job. If a worker retires within 18 months of turning 65, he may be eligible to pay for COBRA until he qualifies for Medicare.
Some employees—mainly those who work in the public sector—have access to state programs that allow retirees to retain health-care benefits after retirement. These programs usually are offered to employees working in government-related areas including law enforcement, first response, higher education or city, county or state administration.