Health Insurance Intricacies

Not only are the pension options important to consider when it comes to retirement, but so are the associated fringe benefits, specifically post-employment health insurance. This topic, like most of those with MA pensions, is complicated. But, as a general rule, MA public employees do get some health insurance options once they retire.

Health Insurance Options

Generally, when you collect your pension you will get an option of health insurance coverage from the unit or district from which you retired. There are some exceptions to this, because health insurance options for retirees is governed at the local level. Most districts will provide some health insurance options, but your particular district will need to be asked. Even if you are a teacher, participating in the MTRS, your health insurance is administered differently depending on which district from which you retired. Since the difference in options can cost a member thousands of dollars over their lifetimes, this is worth investigating.

Health Insurance Subsidies

Health insurance is an expensive benefit. Not only are the options available determined on the local level in the unit or district from which you retire, but so are the amounts that district will contribute to the premium. It is not uncommon for the district to pay a portion, say 80%, of an employee's health insurance premium but, once that employee retires, the same district will pay a smaller percentage of the premium for that same person. Again, it pays to investigate these subsidies to help you budget during retirement.

Health Insurance Problems

Some local districts have particular rules when it comes to retirees and health insurance. For instance, if you left employment as a MA public employee but didn't take retirement immediately after, you may not get any health insurance options when you do go to retire from the system. These rules for "inactive members" must be checked before you consider leaving the public system and waiting to take your retirement benefit.


Most retirees who have paid into Medicare and qualify for its benefits will be required to give up their insurance and take Medicare once they reach age 65. At that point, the unit will often have a "Medigap" or other insurance option to offer you in conjunction with Medicare, which is administered by the Federal government. The options available to you as a Medicare participant will often be subsidized in a similar way to other retiree health insurance options. It it still possible, however, that your unit or district doesn't require you to use Medicare as your primary insurance once you turn 65. This is unlikely, but if so, a thorough examination of the features and benefits of using Medicare vs your current insurance is in order.

Insurance for Spouses and Survivors

This is an important consideration in the decision to take retirement benefits. Generally, neither the A or the B option (which gives a lump-sum benefit to your survivor) will allow for your survivor to qualify for health insurance benefits through the district once you are gone. Each district can have local idiosyncrasies, so it pays to investigate.

Health insurance is a significant benefit and is worth attending to the details. CONTACT us today and we can easily look into your options for you.

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