Ask the Expert: Wait for health reform:
I'm 60 years old and receiving Social Security Disability. Rather than start Medicare, I opted to maintain primary coverage in my employer's health plan, which covers my wife, who's much younger than I am. But that plan is increasingly expensive, and I'll no longer be eligible for it at 65. Can I drop my employer coverage and switch to Medicare, and then find a policy to cover my wife?
You can switch to Medicare now because you're disabled. But if you can wait a year and a half, it will be easier to find affordable coverage for your wife.
Under the Affordable Care Act -- aka Obamacare -- starting in January 2014, New Yorkers will be able to buy coverage in a federally subsidized health insurance exchange at substantially lower cost than the rates charged in the open market.
Your current options are limited, assuming your wife has no other workplace coverage available to her. If yours is a two-person household and your monthly income doesn't exceed $3,152, she may qualify to buy insurance through the state-sponsored Healthy NY program. Alternatively, you can extend her coverage in your employer's plan under the COBRA law. (Most New York employers must extend coverage for up to 36 months.) But your employer won't subsidize the cost; you'll have to pay 102 percent of her premium. Your employer can tell you the deadline to apply for COBRA. The best alternative is to find another group insurance plan for which she qualifies -- a plan offered by an alumni association or professional association, for example. Individual policies are the most expensive choice. Their annual cost ranges from $13,500 to $40,000.
The bottom line If your spouse is covered by your employer's health plan and is under 65, he or she will have to find alternative coverage when you enroll in Medicare.
Websites with more information 1.usa.gov/NlJjs5 and bit.ly/L8Eq2h