Retirement Preparation

It seems like this day may have never come, but you're finally nearing retirement. You may have been planning your retirement since the day you started working, but you still have a little bit of work to do. Leaving the workplace usually means leaving some of your benefits behind; therefore it is important to do a thorough review of your insurance program.

Life Insurance

The primary purpose for life insurance is to protect you family's financial well being, but life insurance can be applied differently in many situations. Your primary use of life insurance may have been to provide protection for your spouse, but now that you have saved up sufficient financial resources you may think it is unnecessary. This is probably untrue. The following are three important considerations to make when evaluating your life insurance needs at this stage:

  • Pension Benefits - If you have a qualified retirement plan that is sponsored by your employer, then you will have a decision to make near the time you decide to retire and begin receiving benefits. The decision concerns an election of benefits. You will probably be given a choice of taking a full lifetime benefit or survivor benefit option in which life insurance could play an important role.
  • Estate Planning - Life insurance can provide the necessary liquidity and cash to pay for estate and inheritance taxes at death.
  • Final Expenses and Cash Bequests - Life insurance can also provide the needed cash to pay for funeral and estate administration expenses, and can be used to provide cash gifts to loves one or a favorite charity.

Health Insurance

Once you reach age 65 you will become eligible for Medicare which is administered by the Social Security Administration. Medicare Part A covers hospital benefits and Medicare Part B covers medical benefits. If you retire prior to age 65 then you will still need health insurance coverage. If you are leaving an employer and you have health insurance then you may be able to extend the coverage either 18 or 36 months under COBRA if you qualify. Another alternative is to purchase an individual health insurance policy on your own. 

To start with, you need to understand the 3 basic types of individual health insurance. 


This type of plan lets you visit the healthcare provider of your choice, and it reimburses you for a portion of the expenses. The portion of the medical expenses you are responsible for is called co-insurance which is usually twenty-percent of the charges that are considered reasonable and customary (reasonable and customary charges are the prevailing fees charged by healthcare providers in a particular region of the country). Many fee-for-service plans also have a deductible that must first be met before medical expenses are eligible for reimbursement. In addition, most plans also have "maximum-out-of-pocket expenses" or "stop-loss" provisions that limit the amount of co-insurance a patient is responsible for. After co-insurance payments reach a policy's stop-loss provision, the insurance company pays for the remainder of the annual expenses at one hundred percent of reasonable and customary charges. Fee-for-service plans, like all other types of health insurance, have lifetime limits which place a cap on the total amount of medical expenses an insurance company will pay for. You should look for a policy with unlimited lifetime benefits or at least $1,000,000 in coverage. 

Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs):

HMOs are managed care health plans that restrict you to a designated network of healthcare providers. Under an HMO, you must select a primary care physician in the network. If you become ill or injured (non emergency) then you must first visit your primary care physician before being referred to a specialist. HMO's usually pay for all of your medical expenses except for a small co-payment which is your responsibility for each visit to your healthcare provider. HMOs will not reimburse you for any medical expenses if you obtain care outside of the HMO network unless your HMO plan has a POS (Point of Service) option. POS gives you the flexibility of going outside the HMO network for medical treatment; however, the insurance company will only reimburse you for a portion of the expenses subject to co-insurance. HMOs are the most restrictive type of health plans available but are also among the least expensive types of health insurance. 

Preferred Provider Organizations (PPOs):

PPOs are types of managed care plans that gives you financial incentive to use specified or preferred healthcare providers. If you visit a preferred healthcare provider the insurance company will usually pay for all of the medical expenses after you pay a small co-payment which is usually $10-$20. PPOs also give you the flexibility of using doctors or hospitals out of the PPO network; however, you will be responsible for co-insurance payments similar to those in fee-for-service health insurance plans. PPOs differ from HMOs in that you have the freedom to choose any healthcare provider at anytime.