Blog

07 Dec
0

Important Health Care Dates and Options for Retirees

As many members of the Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) know, the open enrollment date for Medicare Advantage plans ends today, Thursday, December 7, 2017. Some TRS-Care participants who are Medicare-eligible and intend to terminate coverage with TRS-Care may have some questions about their options after today. Please continue reading to learn more about important deadlines and potential options.

If You Are Staying with TRS-Care

The new TRS-Care plans (high-deductible plan for retirees under age 65 and Medicare Advantage for retirees age 65 and older) go into effect on January 1, 2018. Those auto-enrolled in the TRS-Care plans should have already received their insurance cards in the mail. No other action is required at this time. Please contact TRS-Care if you have not received your new insurance cards: 1-888-237-6762.

Important Information About Medicare Options After Today

Notice to Members: You may have more time, known as a special enrollment period (SEP), to buy your new coverage as a result of your coverage with TRS ending. To obtain this SEP, it is necessary to contact the Centers of Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) at www.cms.gov and mention SEPs for Exceptional Conditions under Section 30.4.4. You will need to explain this situation to CMS resulting in your having additional time to make your decision about your future insurance coverage. For a Medicare Supplement you have until December 31, 2017 to take advantage of your Guarantee Issue right if you qualify, though not all TRS members do qualify for a Guarantee Issue right. Also, you will have 63 days from January 1, 2018 to take advantage of the Guarantee Issue if you qualify.

This link on the Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS) website provides a helpful FAQ that may offer guidance to Medicare-eligible plan participants still weighing their options. It is important to know that you may still have time to select another plan. Please read the FAQ carefully to determine if these options will apply to you.

Per the TRS website:

Notice to Retirees Who Want to Terminate TRS-Care – Deadlines

If you are enrolled in TRS-Care and want to purchase coverage on the individual market, you have access to a special enrollment event through Medicare until February 28, 2018. You may also be eligible for a guaranteed issue period. Please see the table below for your options.

Applies to Participants in:   Notes Ends on
TRS-Care 1

TRS-Care 2

TRS-Care 3

TRS-Care Medicare Advantage 3

Guaranteed Issue:

63 day guaranteed issue period to purchase a Medigap policy.

This allows you to purchase an individual market without health care underwriting. March 4, 2018
TRS-Care 1

TRS-Care 2

TRS-Care 3

TRS-Care Medicare Advantage 2

TRS-Care Medicare Advantage 3

Special Enrollment Period:

2 month period that allows purchase of a Medicare Advantage plan or Part D Drug plan.

This special enrollment period allows you to purchase a Medicare Advantage plan and/or Part D Drug plan in the individual market for 2 months after your TRS-Care coverage ends. February 28, 2018

If you are still interested in learning more about alternative Medicare products available through TRTA’s partnership with Aetna, please read below:

  • TRTA has partnered with Aetna Healthcare to offer TRS-Care participants and spouses alternative health insurance options. To access the alternative options, use the following:
  • Visit the Aetna/TRTA offerings website online at www.healthspire.com/TRTA.
  • Call 1.888.299.0919 (TTY: 711) between 8:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. local time, Monday through Friday to speak to a health plan expert who can guide you through your choices between the TRS plan or an Aetna plan.
  • This offering is available for TRTA members only. If you need to check or update your membership, please call TRTA at 1.800.880.1650.
  • Please note, if you are over 65 years old and decide to leave TRS-Care, you will not be able to return to the plan.

Additional Information about Participants Who Were Cancelled

TRS is aware that certain TRS-Care retirees who sent in requests to terminate their TRS-Care coverage in 2018 received a letter from SilverScript or Humana saying that they have been enrolled in a TRS-Care Medicare plan for 2018. These letters are incorrect—TRS apologizes for the confusion this has caused and understands your concerns.

Please be assured that if you already submitted a request to TRS to terminate TRS-Care, drop a dependent, or opt out of drug coverage, you do not have to take any action. Once Medicare terminates you from TRS-Care, you should receive a confirmation letter from Medicare saying you have been placed back in the Medicare plan you enrolled in outside TRS-Care. If you have not yet submitted a request to terminate your TRS-Care coverage, you must do so in order for TRS to terminate your TRS-Care coverage. Please contact TRS Health & Insurance Benefits at 1-888-237-6762 to request a termination form (700B).

TRS is closely monitoring the situation to ensure that the terminations are processed. If you would like TRS to confirm that the request to terminate TRS-Care has been processed, you can call TRS Health & Insurance Benefits at 1-888-237-6762.

Thank You

The Inside Line is a free service of TRTA, provided to you to keep you informed on current issues and events that impact your life.  If you value this service, please consider becoming a member of TRTA by clicking here. If you are already a member, thank you!

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27 Nov
0

TRTF Making a Difference: Bailey Bohlken

The Texas Retired Teachers Foundation (TRTF) is dedicated to cultivating the next crop of teachers and public education professionals in Texas. As a part of this mission, TRTF has created the Beginning Teacher Scholarship program. At $750 apiece, Beginning Teacher Scholarships are a great way for new teachers to pay for certification tests and classroom supplies. In 2018, TRTF will distribute 15 Beginning Teacher Scholarships!

Bailey Bohlken began her first year of teaching at Sulphur Springs High School this fall. Bohlken is teaching algebra and is also a softball coach. She received three scholarships during her studies, and the scholarships helped pave her way into the teaching field.

“When I was in school, (the scholarships) helped with tuition and books and just different expenses that I had,” Bohlken said. “As a new teacher, they’ve helped pay for my certification tests and also helped set up some new stuff for my classroom.”

Bohlken comes from a family of educators. Her mother, Dana Bohlken, has worked for more than 20 years as a teacher and coach. Two of Bohlken’s aunts and uncles have worked as teachers, and Bohlken’s sister is in her third year of teaching.

“She gets lots of advice. She gets lots of dos and don’ts,” said Dana Bohlken. “The good thing is we have lots of experience from different age levels and different subject areas, and so it’s just kind of a wide knowledge base.”

Bailey Bohlken received her greatest inspiration from her high school math class. It was in those classes that she learned the value of problem solving.

“I just fell in love with it, and it really clicked for me,” Bailey Bohlken said. “That was kind of the time that I figured out that, ‘Hey, this might be something that I really want to do for the rest of my life.’”

You can help support future educators like Bailey Bohlken by donating to the Texas Retired Teachers Foundation today! Download an application for the Beginning Teacher Scholarship by clicking here.

Thank You

Thank you for donating to TRTF! Your contributions truly help change lives!

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21 Nov
0

Happy Thanksgiving from TRTA and TRTF!

Dear Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) Members and Supporters,

This is the time of year to reflect and appreciate those who are a special part of our lives!

The TRTA Board of Directors and the Texas Retired Teachers Foundation (TRTF) Board of Trustees are so very thankful for the time you spend volunteering for TRTA and the donations you have made to help fund TRTF’s many charitable programs.

Your work and endeavors have made this a successful organization that gives a voice to retired educators as well as active educators still working in the school systems, and helps us provide assistance to retired educators in need, current classroom teachers and tomorrow’s educators! Your unwavering support has also meant that more than 400 educators—retired and active—could begin the recovery process after Hurricane Harvey through grants provided by TRTF’s Disaster Relief Fund.

Educators are the foundation for everything good that happens in our state. We know that educators make things happen. Your patience, love, knowledge, dedication and generous spirit make Texas great!

However, we also know that for all the good we do, the appreciation and salary is not commensurate. We know that the future holds many questions about health insurance for our retirees, and concerns about making ends meet.

Fortunately, that does not hinder what we have and want to give to others. Your Texas Retired Teachers Foundation does what its name implies. We are the base, the underlying structure that supports our members and future members too!

How the Foundation Can Help

If you or a retiree you know is in need of financial assistance this holiday season, please email the Foundation’s “A Helping Hand” program at help@trtf.org. TRTF has assisted many retirees with home repairs, dental work, hearing aids, medical bills, space heaters and much more! Likewise, if you or a retiree you know could use some financial assistance as a result of Hurricane Harvey, please call 1.800.880.1650 or send an email to help@trtf.org to request an application.

If you know a classroom teacher who is hoping to fund a great project for his or her students and is wondering where to find the money to accomplish this goal, have them apply for one of our thirty available Classroom Assistance Grants. Download application here. Each grant is worth $500!

If you have a grandchild or other family member who is about to graduate from college and plans to teach for the very first time in the fall of 2018, let them know about our Beginning Teacher Scholarship program. We may be able to assist them in paying for certification tests or supplies for their first classroom. TRTF has 15 scholarships to give in 2018. Download the application here. Each scholarship is worth $750!

Donate Today

If you believe in the legacy of public education in Texas, and want to show your support through a tax-deductible donation to any of our Foundation’s amazing programs, you may donate online today! You may also call and donate over the phone with a credit card at 1.800.880.1650.

The third quarter issue of The VOICE also featured a special article about the Foundation, along with TRTF’s annual appeal letter and donation card. You can mail in your donation using the pre-paid envelope included with your issue.

There are more than 80,000 members of TRTA. If we all give a little, we could do a lot! Foundation Month is your opportunity to make a difference for a colleague that could use help, create an opportunity for classroom teachers and students, or help open the door for a new teacher brimming with youthful enthusiasm to teach young minds.

Thank you for the opportunity you have given all of us to serve as your TRTA representatives. We are all deeply grateful to our members for everything that they do to support this great organization.

Happy Thanksgiving,

Tim Lee

TRTA Executive Director

Jamie Larson

TRTF Board President

Thank You

The Inside Line is a free service of TRTA, provided to you to keep you informed on current issues and events that impact your life.  If you value this service, please consider becoming a member of TRTA by clicking here. If you are already a member, thank you!

Be sure to like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and subscribe to our YouTube channel.

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