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I am in my early 60s and have signed up for a Marketplace plan so that I have health insurance coverage until I qualify for Medicare at age 65. What happens when I go on Medicare?

When you turn 65, you should sign up for Medicare and notify your Marketplace plan that you now qualify for Medicare coverage.  Your Marketplace coverage will not be cancelled automatically by your plan when you turn 65 and sign up for Medicare, but if you receive premium tax credits to help you pay for your Marketplace plan premium, your eligibility for these tax credits will end when your Medicare Part A coverage starts (people with Medicare are not eligible for these tax credits, and the premium tax credit can only be used for the purchase of Marketplace coverage, not Medicare).

If you choose to enroll in Medicare Part A and keep your Marketplace coverage, you will have to pay the full price for your Marketplace plan, and Medicare will be the primary payer.  If you were receiving financial assistance for your Marketplace coverage prior to signing up for Medicare, you will receive a letter in the mail from the Marketplace informing you that you are no longer eligible to receive this financial assistance since you are enrolled in Medicare Part A. You should contact your Marketplace plan to make sure that your financial assistance is stopped when your Medicare coverage begins. If you do not stop receiving the premium tax credit and other financial assistance for your Marketplace plan when your Medicare coverage begins, you may have to repay some or all of the amount of financial assistance you received for the months you had both types of coverage.

If you decide to drop your Marketplace coverage when you become eligible for Medicare, make sure your Medicare coverage has started before you cancel your Marketplace plan so that you avoid any gaps in coverage.  You can start signing up for Medicare three months before your 65th birthday.

My spouse is an early retiree with affordable retiree health benefits from his former employer, but I’m not eligible to be on his plan. Can I apply for coverage and subsidies in the Marketplace?

Yes, assuming you meet the other requirements, you can apply for health plans and premium tax credits in the Marketplace. Your spouse’s eligibility for early retiree coverage will not affect your ability to seek coverage and financial help in the Marketplace.

I’m 63 and enrolled in a retiree health plan from my former employer. Can I look for better coverage and subsidies in the Marketplace?

Yes, as long as you do so during the Open Enrollment period.

People with employer-provided retiree health benefits should know that most early retiree health plans are considered minimum essential coverage, and thus meet an individual’s requirement for coverage.

If you are enrolled in such coverage, you can also look at coverage options through the Marketplace, and if your income is between 100% and 400% of the Federal Poverty Level, you may qualify for premium tax credits. However, there’s one exception. Some employers may provide retired employees with access to an account, called a health reimbursement arrangement (or HRA) that the retiree may use to reimburse medical expenses, including an individual policy through a Marketplace or in the non-group market. A retiree that signs up for an HRA offered by a former employer is considered to have minimum essential coverage from an employer and would therefore would not be eligible to claim a premium tax credit if he or she enrolled in a Marketplace plan.

Remember that outside of Open Enrollment, you cannot voluntarily drop your retiree coverage and replace it with other Marketplace coverage.

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