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Insights & advice

Should retirees get health insurance?

Feb. 2022 – 15 min read

Key takeaways

  • While some retirees may be fortunate enough to have healthcare benefits continue into retirement, most won’t.

  • Thankfully, there are several options for health insurance in retirement. Find a plan that works for you.

  • Whether personal health insurance is worth the cost depends on your health, where you live, and how you deal with the financial risk of not having insurance.

  • You can apply for personal insurance online in less than 15 minutes

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What happens to your benefits when you retire?

If you’re approaching retirement, an important question you may want to ask your employer is “Will I have health and dental benefits when I retire?”. 

While some retirees may be fortunate enough to have healthcare benefits continue into retirement, most won’t.

Can you keep your health insurance when you retire?

Most people won’t have an employer-sponsored healthcare benefits plan available to them in retirement.1

A few may be able to keep their plans by paying the same as they are now. 

A few will be able to keep their plan by paying more for their insurance.

And a few will be able to join a separate “rollover” plan through their employer or association within a short time after they retire. With this type of plan, you won’t have to answer medical questions or have a medical exam to qualify. The cost of insurance is based on your age, and you can choose the coverage package you need from basic to more enhanced.

What’s covered by your provincial/territorial health insurance?

Provinces provide certain services and supplies for eligible residents, such as:

Is personal health insurance worth it for retirees?

If your health and dental benefits don’t fall into one of the situations described above, you can also think about personal health insurance. But is it worth it? It depends on:

  • Where you live – Because what’s covered by provincial/territorial health care plans varies by province, what you might get in Ontario, could cost you hundreds of dollars in Nova Scotia. Get to know what’s covered in the province where you live. 

  • Your health – If you currently have expensive prescriptions or rely on medical equipment, and those costs aren’t covered under your provincial/territorial plan, personal health insurance may be worth it.

  • Your mindset – For some people the benefits of knowing they’re covered if something unexpected happens to their health outweighs the cost of insurance.

Who gets personal health insurance?

Generally, the people who purchase personal health insurance value the group benefits they had when they were working. 

William and Maureen are retiring soon and have always had health insurance. They take prescription medications for ongoing medical conditions, know they’re going to need expensive dental care in the future and use a lot of paramedical services such as massage or physiotherapy. They also plan to vacation out of the country. 

They know the government won’t cover all their healthcare costs, and that their healthcare costs will be more than the premiums for a personal healthcare plan. They also won’t want to worry about qualifying for coverage or purchasing travel insurance separately. 

What is the average cost of personal health insurance for retirees?

It can range from just over $100 to over $400 per month. The cost will vary depending on your age, where you live and how much coverage you need.

How to get personal insurance

There are great options available for retirees.

Ready to get health and dental coverage?

If you’d like to explore plans and see how much they could cost you, get a quote

Apply now
Footnote 1
1 If you are a Quebec resident, personal health insurance can provide supplemental coverage to the prescription drug coverage provided under the Régie de l’assurance maladie du Québec (RAMQ) basic prescription drug insurance plan. Personal health insurance doesn’t remove your obligation to have drug coverage through the RAMQ drug public plan, through your employer or an association you are a member of or through the employer of your spouse.

This information is general in nature, and is intended for informational purposes only. For specific situations you should consult the appropriate legal, accounting or tax advisor.

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