MONEY MAGAZINE:
Retire Early Full coverage

Fill your riskiest gap: insurance

Before you even think of leaving your job, be sure your family is covered.

By Walter Updegrave, Money Magazine senior editor

NEW YORK (Money Magazine) -- When it comes to retiring early, your single biggest obstacle is going to be health insurance. Before you even think of leaving your job, be sure your family will have adequate coverage.

If your spouse is still working at a company with health benefits, that's likely your best option. Then see what's available where you work.

Talk to HR even if your employer, like most, has stopped providing retiree health benefits. All companies with 20 or more workers must offer departing employees coverage for up to 18 months, under the law known as COBRA. You'll have to pay the tab, but it's likely to be lower than for a private policy.

When COBRA runs out, you have two choices. One is to look for a job that includes health coverage, although it can be difficult to find a company that offers insurance to part-time workers.

The other is to find private health insurance. That can be pricey.

A 55-year-old couple could easily pay upwards of $9,000 a year for a policy with a $2,000 deductible, 20 percent co-insurance and an out-of-pocket limit of $2,000.

If you're healthy and don't expect you'll have large medical bills, consider a policy that has a higher deductible and out-of-pocket limit. That can reduce your premium by a good 40 percent or more.

To compare quotes and policy features from different insurers, go to ehealthinsurance.com.

UnRetirement: Did you retire early only to be forced - for financial reasons - to go back to work? Money Magazine wants to provide financial experts to give you advice on making the transition. Send e-mails to drosato@moneymail.com.

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Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer LIBOR Warning: Neither BBA Enterprises Limited, nor the BBA LIBOR Contributor Banks, nor Reuters, can be held liable for any irregularity or inaccuracy of BBA LIBOR. Disclaimer. Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.