Our Picks of Retiree Health Insurance

Best Retiree Health Insurance

Publushed by:

John E Chambers

Last updated:

Best Overall: Humana Health Insurance

Short summary

Humana Health Insurance was founded in 1961 and began as a nursing home organization that was geared mainly towards end of life care for the elderly.

The company went on to grow rapidly into one of the largest health insurance providers in the United States.

Fast forward to thirty years later, Humana was the largest hospital operator in its county and had been developing their own health insurance plans for their clients. Soon afterwards, Humana fully directed their focus on the managed healthcare plans that they had in place, subsequently relinquishing its hospital division endeavours.

As of today, Humana is one of the most respected and highly sought after health care providers for retirees. Humana Inc. is a fortune 500 company that has grown to be one of the largest in the nation.

Humana offers dental, medicare, small business, and vision coverage, which compared to some of our other candidates for best retiree health insurance, is more inclusive and arguably the better choice.

If dental and vision coverage are important, which for many retirees are two of the more important areas, then Humana has you covered. Definitely a front runner for the best retiree health insurance provider in this review.

However, their comprehensive coverage plan will inherently be of higher cost than some of the other available health insurance options.

Quick Facts

Best Overall
Humana Health Insurance
Humana Health Insurance

Runner Up: Aetna Health Insurance

Short summary

Aetna Health Insurance was founded in 1853 in Hartford Connecticut.

Their healthcare network is made up of a total of over 1.2 million health care professionals – 690,000 primary care doctors and related specialists, as well as over 5,700 hospitals.

Aetna Health Insurance has been named on the highly regarded Fortune’s “World’s Most Admired Companies” list, and boasts a rank of number 4 in the “Health Care: Insurance and Managed Care” category.

In terms of current active clients , Aetna health insurance serves approximately 22.1 million medical members, 12.7 million dental members and 13.1 million pharmacy benefit management services members. Their annual revenues are over $60 billion.

Aetna offers medicare and small business plans, but does not offer dental, vision or individual & family plans. This may be a problem for people who are transitioning into retirement and looking for a plan that suits their needs for the future. Dental and vision health care coverage are often two of the more important plans for the elderly, as these two aspects of their health are inevitably declining in the later stages of life.

As a result, Aetna Health Insurance may not be the ideal health insurance provider for certain situations. Backed by years of experience and well respected among the health care provider industry, Aetna does offer some good coverage options, but is limited in other important areas.

Although this can be considered a drawback, their health insurance plans will inherently be less expensive, making Aetna a frontrunner for the best affordable health insurance.

Quick Facts

Best Overall
Humana Health Insurance
Humana Health Insurance

Alternative #1: United Healthcare

Short summary

UnitedHealthcare is the nation’s largest health insurance company.

Founded in 1977 as UnitedHealthcare Corporation, it is a business platform from UnitedHealth Group.

This project’s main focus is to provide a simple and seamless route to health insurance plans and benefits that truly meet the needs of individuals and employers.

United Healthcare is dedicated to following the best medical care practices while implementing the highest level of innovative business management strategies.

They serve 50 U.S states and have invested over 3 billion dollars into technology and innovative strategy development. This is a great sign for prospective health insurance customers as United Healthcare is clearly striving to create highly efficient operations while offering quality healthcare plans to their members.

UnitedHealthcare offers plans in all major areas including medicare, small business, dental, vision and individual/family plans. This demonstrates the versatility that UnitedHealthcare offers in terms of the best retiree health insurance plans and the coverage that they provide to their members.

Retirees who choose to go with this will be getting top tier plans that offer extensive coverage in virtually all major areas including dental and vision.

Although this is a huge positive, there is also the relative cost of such great coverage that may be an issue. Retirees who are seeking the best affordable health insurance plan to suit their needs may not find a price range that they are comfortable with.

Quick Facts

Best Overall
Humana Health Insurance
Humana Health Insurance

Alternative #2: Medicaid

Short summary

The Center for Medicaid and Chip Services (CMCS) is one of six centers within the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).

The CMCS is essentially the focal point for three important state-based health coverage programs – Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and the Basic Health Program (BHP).

These three programs work in tandem to allow people of all age ranges and income brackets to have access to healthcare that they can afford.

Medicaid is the program that aims to provide proper coverage to people in low-income situations including adults, children, pregnant women, the disabled and the elderly.

They are currently known as one of the highest volume payers for health care costs in the United States. There is however fairly strict eligibility requirements in terms of earned income, and therefore is not available to more financially stable individuals.

The Children’s Health Insurance Program, through Medicaid and other CHIP programs, provides health insurance to children who are within the eligibility requirements. These children come from families who have incomes that are too high to qualify for Medicaid but cannot afford other private coverage.

The Basic Health Program brings the option for states to provide affordable coverage options and stable long-term care for people whose income is fluctuating around the eligibility levels for Medicaid and CHIP.

In terms of the best retiree health insurance providers, Medicaid is somewhat of a targeted option for people who are not necessarily financially stable and have fluctuating income levels year by year.

As a result, they may not be able to provide the proper health insurance plans and associated coverage for retirees. Medicaid has been designed to ensure that people in low-income situations have access to basic coverage options.

Quick Facts

Best Overall
Humana Health Insurance
Humana Health Insurance

Alternative #3: Cigna Health Insurance

Short summary

Cigna health insurance was founded in 1982, but their origins can be traced all the way back over 200 years to the Insurance Company of North America.

This was the first marine insurance company in the United States, however it was not until 1982 that Cigna was officially founded. This occurred through the merger of the INA and the Connecticut General Life Insurance Company, creating Cigna health insurance.

With over 95 million customers spread throughout 30 different countries, Cigna is truly an international organization. Cigna Global Health Benefits is a business unit within Cigna that serves upwards of 15.2 million global medical customers.

They have fostered over 1 million relationships with their widespread customer base and healthcare professionals, clinics and other facilities across the world.

Although Cigna has a great reputation and ranks fairly well among other large health insurance companies, there are a few drawbacks that should be considered.

One of the most significant constraints is the fact that Cigna Global Health Benefits only offers medicare plans to their customers across the world. They unfortunately do not offer dental, vision or small business plans and the associated coverage to their members.

When it comes to health insurance plans for retirees, this lack of coverage could potentially be an issue. Dental and vision are two aspects of late stage health that are incredibly important for most and will likely require attention.

Dental care and vision care are often very expensive and therefore are important parts of retiree health care plans in a lot of cases. These are important factors to consider when looking for the best retiree health insurance options.

Quick Facts

Best Overall
Humana Health Insurance
Humana Health Insurance

Best Retiree Health Insurance FAQs

Which Type of Insurance Is Most Important for Retired Persons

Healthcare worker advising patient on prescription medicine

Retirement is a stage in life when everything changes. From travel plans to daily schedules and living situations, there are often a lot of moving pieces. One of the less exciting but incredibly important changes is a retiree’s health insurance coverage and the policies that need to be added, dropped or changed.

There are some types of insurance that are less important for individuals coming into retirement. One of the most obvious types that is not at all necessary for retirees to have as a part of their coverage plan would be disability insurance.

Once seniors have stopped working and officially enter retirement, disability insurance essentially becomes pointless. Most retirees will choose to relocate the money they previously were spending on disability coverage to other forms of insurance that will serve to keep them stable into retirement.

When we are talking about which type of insurance is most important for retired persons, the answer is somewhat obvious. Medical insurance is for many reasons the most important coverage for retirees to have in place. Increasing health care costs in combination with the unavoidable need for more care with old age make medical insurance even more important for people transitioning into retirement.

Although most retirees are eligible for Medicare, it does not cover 100 percent of medical costs in the end. There are a number of supplemental plan options that can help offset the cost if not fully cover the services that basic Medicare does not. Examples of these supplemental plans would be Medigap and Medicare Part D coverage.

What Health Insurance Is Available For Early Retirees?

Early retirement is quite a common goal among people in the workforce, regardless of what their occupation is. But what exactly defines “early”?

For most, early retirement means stopping work before benefits used by retirees such as Social Security and Medicare become available.

If you are looking to start traveling the world on your own time and sleeping in whenever you’d like before your retiree benefits kick in, there is still hope. Let’s discuss a few potential methods for taking care of your health insurance needs if you have the privilege of retiring before the age of 65.

1. Obtain insurance through the federal marketplace

It is possible to find health insurance coverage similar to what you may have had with your employer. The Affordable Care Act has enabled coverage from your employer and coverage through healthcare.gov to essentially offer the same coverage benefits, deductibles and premiums. You may also be eligible for subsidies based on your income.

2. Use COBRA coverage

COBRA coverage, or The Consolidated Omnibus Reconciliation Act, allows individuals to maintain their coverage after exiting the workforce. This is a rule that requires employers to extend offers for access to coverage after separation of service by employees, for a certain amount of time.

Instead of searching for a plan that is similar after early retirement, you can continue to use the same plan you were on while employed.

One thing to keep in mind is the fact that COBRA coverage is only a temporary option for early retirement coverage. It usually lasts a maximum of 18 months.

3. Private Health Plans

These plans do not conform to the rules put in place by the Affordable Care Act, thanks to the fact that they are private. As a result, early retirees may be able to find reasonable coverage for their specific situations at a significant discount. This coverage offers premiums that are often more stable as well.

With a private health plan early retirees can choose from a number of coverage styles that allow them to build a plan that suits their specific needs. Most times this coverage can be purchased at any time of year.

What Insurance Do You Get At 65

medical bill

Prior to retirement, workers are usually covered by their employer’s health insurance plan. Oftentimes, even if it isn’t necessary for them to work, people will postpone retirement until the age of 65. This is because of the fact that at 65, they will qualify for the government’s healthcare program, known as Medicare.

Individuals are eligible for Medicare if they or their spouse has worked for at least ten years in a Medicare-covered employment, they are 65 years of age or older, and are a citizen of the United States.

If retirees are eligible for Social Security retirement benefits, they are automatically eligible for Part A of the Medicare program, starting on the first day of the month in which they turn 65.

If they are receiving Social Security retirement benefits, they are automatically enrolled in Medicare Part B at the same time they become eligible for Part A, unless they decide to opt out of Medicare Part B coverage.

Medicare Part A provides inpatient and or hospital expense coverage. Medicare Part B offers outpatient and medical coverage. Part C of the Medicare program offers an alternate method for members to receive their Medicare benefits, with more details involved. Finally, Medicare Part D provides prescription and pharmaceutical drug coverage benefits.

Is It Mandatory To Go On Medicare When You Turn 65?

Medicare is a public health insurance program designed for people of age 65 and over, as well as individuals with disabilities. It covers hospitalization and a number of other medical costs fully or at reduced rates.

It is not necessarily mandatory for eligible persons to go on Medicare, however the insurance is automatically offered, and in some cases opting can be quite complicated for a number of reasons. Late enrollment often comes with penalties and declining Medicare parts A and B which are the foundation of the program, often comes with some sort of consequences.

Some of the more common reasons individuals may consider deferring or delaying their Medicare coverage include:

  • They would like to continue contributing to a health savings account (HSA)
  • They are continuing to work and have an insurance plan through an employer
  • They have coverage through Veteran Affairs, TRICARE, or CHAMPVA


We have discussed a variety of aspects in regards to the best retiree health insurance options, and other related areas of interest.

After comparing five of the best available health care providers for retirees (Aetna, Cigna, UnitedHealth, Humana, Medicare), we have determined which is the stand alone favourite.

In terms of the best retirement health insurance, we have given Humana the highest praise. With their comprehensive insurance plan that offers Medicare coverage, small business, dental and vision coverage, Humana is an exceptional option for retirees looking to get the best protection.

With over 14 million members actively served and a #1 ranking in Fortune’s “Social Responsibility” category, Humana is proven to be a well respected and reliable health insurance provider.

We have also discussed a number of frequently asked retirement insurance questions. It was concluded that medical insurance is the most important type of insurance for retirees to have set up, while briefly discussing the supplemental plans that should be taken into consideration.

We also discussed the health insurance options available for early retirees, from federal marketplace insurance and COBRA coverage options, to the private health plans and what they have to offer.

Finally, we talked about Medicaid’s eligibility requirement, the program’s focus and what it has to offer its members. The question as to whether or not it is mandatory to take part in Medicaid at age 65 was also addressed, with common reasons for deferring the program listed for reference.

Retirees looking for health insurance guidance can consider what we have discussed and make an informed decision that will keep them protected through retirement.

Humana Health Insurance

Humana Health Insurance

John E Chambers

John E Chambers is an experienced financial advice expert. Born in Chicago, he has a master's in Industrial Finance, but he has spent decades offering investment advice to businesses and individuals alike. He is the founder of RetireeWorkforce.com and wants the website to be valuable for retirement advice. In addition, he writes articles that help users jump-start their retirement plans and choose the best investment options. If not pondering over stock market statistics or reading some magazines, you can find John spending time with his family. As an early retiree, John also offers unique insights into what post-retirement life is like.