Dear Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) Members,

Thank you for your patience and diligence in communicating with us about the issues that concern you.

After posting our last update about the Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS) announcing a change to their Medicare Advantage provider from Humana to UnitedHealthcare (UHC), many of you have sent emails or called us about concerns you have with provider participation.

Many members from the Houston area have contacted us, and we have many requests to check on Houston Methodist hospital.

Below is a message from the TRS regarding Houston Methodist:

“We (TRS) work to ensure that our participants have access to a broad network of high-quality providers. UnitedHealthcare will offer a larger selection of providers for TRS-Care Medicare Advantage participants to choose from, and 99% of the providers that TRS-Care participants use the most are in the network.

We understand that retirees have questions about whether Houston Methodist Hospital will be in UHC’s network. We have confirmed with Houston Methodist Hospital will continue to see UHC Group Medicare Advantage participants, including TRS-Care Medicare Advantage participants.

In addition, TRS-Care Medicare Advantage participants will continue to be able to see any provider who accepts Medicare who is willing to bill United Healthcare.

UHC will have a provider search tool available online in advance of the change has committed to provider outreach and working closely with TRS and our members to ensure a smooth transition.”

This is the most current information TRTA has at this time.

TRS manages a very robust group Medicare Advantage program and generally has more ability to work with providers due to the size of the covered group. TRS also has the ability to establish provider guidelines.

In the meantime, if you have questions about large provider networks in your area, please feel free to email us at info@trta.org, and we will deliver those questions to TRS so they can work with UHC to know where the concerns may be.

In addition to the Houston Methodist group, we have also been asked about MD Anderson. As the days unfold, I know we will receive many provider questions, and we will gladly provide those inquiries to the TRS for their information.

We have also been asked about Silver Sneakers. TRTA will get information about this highly used, much loved program as soon as possible.

As a final note, TRS has reported that the premiums and benefits remain unchanged for the next plan year.

Some TRTA members have asked if the “savings” TRS reported will help reduce out-of-pocket expenses for health care participants. While we are pleased to learn that TRS hopes to save more through this procurement, there are many details that must be reviewed before we can predict how any savings may be applied to the program. This is all very new and we did not have a chance to hear any of the presentations the vendors made to TRS as they were reviewed by the TRS Board in closed session.

We are optimistic that TRS will be responsive to these concerns and we will do all we can to help answer these questions as quickly as possible.

Please know that your benefits are secure, as the change of providers is not set to go into effect until January 1, 2021.

Thank you for your membership and thank you for supporting the Texas Retired Teachers Association!

Tim Lee
Executive Director