When to retire is probably the most important – and vexing – decision a worker can make. Myriad factors play into that choice, including health status, financial situation and the availability of health insurance when one does retire.

That last factor has taken on more importance ever since full retirement age for Social Security benefits was ratcheted up to 66 from 65, while eligibility for Medicare has held at 65. Until 2003, the eligible age for both programs was 65.

Recently, researchers at the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College studied the impact of Medicare eligibility on when a worker decides to leave the workforce. The paper, "How Important is Medicare Eligibility in the Timing of Retirement?" was authored by Norma B. Coe, Mashfiqur R. Khan and Matthew S. Rutledge.

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