Make the Transition From Obamacare Coverage to Medicare

If you're in an Affordable Care Act marketplace plan, you should start thinking about Medicare enrollment several months before your 65th birthday.

There's a potentially nasty birthday surprise lurking for those who have health coverage through an Affordable Care Act marketplace plan. Most people in that boat should promptly drop private coverage and sign up for Medicare when they turn 65. If the transition doesn't go smoothly, they could face big coverage gaps and hefty financial consequences.

When it comes to making the leap to Medicare, "the most pervasive problem is doing nothing," says Casey Schwarz, senior counsel for education and federal policy at the Medicare Rights Center. People who are happy with their marketplace coverage might not even think about signing up for Medicare. By the time they do, their initial enrollment period may have passed, making them subject to lifelong late-enrollment penalties.

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Eleanor Laise
Senior Editor, Kiplinger's Retirement Report
Laise covers retirement issues ranging from income investing and pension plans to long-term care and estate planning. She joined Kiplinger in 2011 from the Wall Street Journal, where as a staff reporter she covered mutual funds, retirement plans and other personal finance topics. Laise was previously a senior writer at SmartMoney magazine. She started her journalism career at Bloomberg Personal Finance magazine and holds a BA in English from Columbia University.