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Ask the Expert: Is there health insurance for early retirees?

I just turned 62. Thanks to 40 years of investing in my IRA and 401(k), I can afford to retire, and I'd love to get off the Monday to Friday hamster wheel. I can't get Medicare until I'm 65. Is health insurance available to bridge the years between 62 and 65?

Yes. You can buy coverage in NY State of Health, the insurance market created under the Affordable Care Act.

All policies sold in this market cover ACA-mandated "essential benefits." Among them: medical care in doctors' offices, clinics and emergency rooms; hospitalization; prescription drugs; maternity, newborn and pediatric care; rehabilitative care and chronic disease management.

Twelve insurers currently sell NY State of Health policies, competing on price and quality of service. Policy cost depends on the level of coverage you choose, your age, where you live and whether you qualify for a subsidy. (New Yorkers with annual income below 400 percent of the federal poverty level — currently $100,400 for a family of four — can qualify subsidies. An Essential Plan is also available at no cost or for $20 per person per month, depending on income.)

The market's annual open enrollment runs from November through January. But you qualify for a special enrollment period if your situation changes because you've married, moved, had a baby or adopted a child, or lost coverage. If you retire before age 65, you'll have 60 days after your employer-sponsored coverage ends in which to choose and buy a policy.

NY State of Health provides free assistance, both on the phone and in person. Call 855-355-5777 to speak to or make an appointment with a navigator, who can explain your options and help you choose a policy.

The bottom line

NY State of Health makes medical coverage available to all New Yorkers younger than 65.

More information

nystateofhealth.ny.gov

coverage4healthcare.org/insurance_under_65/

TO ASK THE EXPERT Send questions to Ask the Expert/Act 2, Newsday, 235 Pinelawn Rd., Melville, NY 11747, or email act2@newsday.com. Include your name, address and phone numbers. Questions can be answered only in this column. Advice is offered as general guidance. Check with your own consultants for your specific needs.

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