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20 Oct 2017
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TRS-Care Seminars Underway

The Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS) has completed the first two weeks of seminars regarding the new TRS-Care health insurance plans. TRS has added several new meetings to the schedule. Additional meetings have been added in Austin, the Houston area, Corpus Christi, the Rio Grande Valley, Greenville, Victoria and El Paso. Many members of the Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) have attended these meetings and many will attend the internet webinars.

To view the meeting schedule, including how to RSVP, please click here. This link also includes presentation materials, videos and handouts that describe the insurance changes.

TRS-Care is Still a Great Option

Many members have contacted TRTA with questions regarding enrollment processes, dates and deadlines, as well as processes related to spouses seeking insurance options outside of TRS-Care.

The TRS website has a wealth of information regarding every aspect of the TRS-Care changes and process. Many of your questions are answered in this TRS Q & A, found by clicking here. The most commonly asked questions are related to the Medicare population. Be sure to visit the link to read complete explanations to the questions below.

I am a TRS retiree with Medicare and currently participate in TRS-Care, and I want to remain in the TRS-Care plan. What do I need to do?

If you are currently in TRS-Care and plan to remain with the program, TRS will auto-enroll you in the new TRS-Care Medicare Advantage program as of January 1, 2018.

My spouse is also Medicare eligible and a TRS-Care participant and wants to retain TRS-Care coverage. What does my spouse need to do?

TRS will also auto-enroll your spouse in the new plan if they are retaining TRS-Care coverage.

What about prescriptions for the Medicare-eligible population?

All Medicare-eligible members remaining with TRS-Care will receive a new prescription card before January 1. The prescription vendor will change from Express Scripts to Silver Scripts (through CVS Caremark). If you want to know more about your prescription drug benefits, contact TRS.

Prescription Drug Coverage (Express Scripts Medicare through Dec. 31, 2017): 1-877-680-4881 (TTY Users: 1-800-716-3231)

Prescription Drug Coverage (through SilverScript beginning Jan. 1, 2018): 1-844-345-4577; Option 2

Please be patient and understand that there are many participants in this category. During the month of January, pay close attention to any prescriptions you have had and also any new prescriptions. Check to see that they are filled properly. Call the number on the new prescription card to work through any glitches as this transition takes place.

What if I choose to leave TRS-Care?

If you leave TRS-Care, you may not be able to re-enter the program if you are already age 65 or older in the future, unless you experience a special enrollment event or you turn 65 years of age. Go to the “Leaving TRS-Care” section at the bottom of this webpage to find out about documents you may need and how to obtain them from TRS.

In addition, please read this document for important questions to ask any insurance agent regarding your choice and the process.

Please use caution when comparing costs and benefits of different plans. If you make the decision to leave TRS-Care, here are the steps to take per the TRS website:

“What steps must I take in order to drop my TRS-Care coverage?

We encourage you to carefully consider your decision before leaving TRS-Care.

You aren’t required to be enrolled in TRS-Care Medicare Advantage, but it is your only medical plan option through TRS-Care if you’re eligible for Medicare. If you opt out this plan, you will be disenrolled from TRS-Care. If you don’t want to be in TRS-Care on Jan. 1, 2018, you have until Nov. 9, 2017 to opt out of your coverage by calling TRS Health and Insurance Benefits at 1-888-237-6762 (Dial Relay Texas 711), Monday – Friday 8 a.m. – 5 p.m., Central Time. If you notify TRS after that time, you’ll receive ID cards in the mail that you can disregard. You do have the option to cancel your TRS-Care coverage any time throughout the year.

Please note that you may drop your prescription coverage (TRS-Care Medicare Rx) and continue TRS-Care Medicare Advantage coverage, however, if you purchase an individual Medicare Part D prescription drug plan, you’ll be disenrolled from TRS-Care Medicare Advantage. Medicare may also make you pay a late enrollment penalty if you don’t have other creditable drug coverage.”

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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13 Oct 2017
0

Aetna Alternative Insurance Plans

The Texas Retired Teachers Association (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. Please note, Aetna’s call center will be open this weekend.
  • 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.
  • If you are over 65 years old and decide to leave TRS-Care, you will not be able to return.
  • If you decide to opt out of TRS-Care retiree health insurance benefits, you will still need to inform TRS by calling 1.888.237.6762. Press #6 to get to TRS-Care.

TRS-Care is the Still the Best Option for the Money for Most Medicare-Eligible Retirees

Many TRTA members have contacted us with questions and concerns about their health care coverage. TRTA believes in TRS-Care and wants it to thrive now and in the future. TRTA works closely with the Teacher Retirement System (TRS) to ensure that TRS-Care provides the best service within its legislative funding limits. Even with recent changes, TRS-Care still offers the best benefit for the money for the majority of TRS annuitants.

However, we know that some Medicare eligible members (particularly a spouse) on the plan may opt-out of TRS-Care due to increased expense. As a result, TRTA has contracted with Aetna to provide alternatives to TRS-Care for members who find themselves looking for other options. The TRTA Aetna supplement plans are deeply discounted for TRTA members, and these discounts are only available through the Aetna call center that works with TRTA.

TRTA cannot tell you which insurance product will work best for you and your family. These decisions should be based on your personal health care and financial needs. Our partnership with Aetna will continue to honor the trust relationship we have with TRTA members and retirees across the state.

Use Caution, Take Your Time, and Take Notes

Please use caution as you explore any alternatives to TRS-Care, and make sure you know all of the consequences of leaving a group plan like TRS-Care if you choose to enter the individual health care market. Oct. 15 – Dec. 7 marks the open-enrollment period for the TRS-Care/Humana Medicare Advantage plan and all MA plans. During this time, many insurance sales people will be attempting to sell you into leaving TRS-Care.

Take your time and take notes.

  • Make sure you compare options to all the benefits of your current program, including choice of providers and prescription coverages.
  • Ask anyone who is trying to sell you a product to demonstrate how the benefits of their option may be better than the TRS-Care/Medicare Advantage plan that will be the only options after Jan. 1.
  • If you have a number of prescriptions, make sure you understand the prescription plan and how coverage gaps (the donut hole) may affect you under any plan you buy. TRS-Care/Silver Scripts RX plan does not have coverage gaps and this can be a significant difference.
  • Ask any vendor to explain to you what the timeline is for signing up for Medicare Advantage plans or supplement (Medigap) policies. Have them tell you the last day you can make a decision. Don’t let them rush you.

Our Goal

TRTA’s goal in the partnership with Aetna is to ensure that you are assessing your long-term health care needs, while communicating with knowledgeable vendors who have the ability and the experience to offer quality advice. This partnership also offers quality health care alternatives for Medicare-eligible individuals at a discount for TRTA members who have already made the decision to leave TRS-Care. TRTA’s coordination with both TRS and Aetna ensures that you will be communicating with representatives who are familiar with your current TRS-Care coverage and can answer your questions effectively.

Whether or not you choose the TRTA/Aetna alternative, you need to feel comfortable that the person selling you insurance is as concerned about your long-term health care needs as they are just selling you a policy today. If you talk to someone at the Aetna number 888-299-0919 and you have further questions, contact us here at TRTA. Our mission, our goal and our job is to represent and protect your interests. We believe that this partnership is a part of that mission, and we want to make sure it serves your interests. We will continue to be an advocate for retired educators in future legislative sessions regarding TRS-Care and health care in general.

Thank You

Thank you for your membership to TRTA. If you know a retiree who is not yet a member of TRTA, please encourage them to join.

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

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01 Oct 2017
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TRTA Partners with Aetna to Offer Discounted Health Coverage Products

UPDATE: The link to the Aetna website is live at: www.healthspire.com/trta

As members of the Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) know, the TRS-Care retiree health insurance program is changing in 2018. You may have many questions about these changes, and it is important that you understand how your health care coverage will be affected.

For the past several months, TRTA has heard from members that the cost of coverage, especially for spouses, may be difficult to afford for some participants in TRS-Care when changes go into effect in January 2018. Many of our members who are Medicare A and B eligible have asked TRTA to search for dependable health care alternatives that can be trusted.

TRTA has heard this plea, and is now partnering with Aetna to provide solutions should TRS-Care no longer be an option for you. TRTA is pleased to announce that Aetna is offering a suite of products endorsed by the TRTA Board of Directors and designed to meet a variety of health care needs.

The products being offered are for retirees and dependents age 65 or older who are Medicare A and B eligible. These products are discounted for members of TRTA.

Aetna, a company that has worked with the Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS) in the past as a provider for TRS-Care products, has coordinated with TRTA and TRS to come up with the best possible options for public education retirees. Aetna has worked diligently to address needs for retirees living on fixed incomes and has introduced special rates because of their relationship with TRTA.

Please know that the Aetna programs being endorsed by TRTA are not part of TRS or the TRS-Care program. While TRTA is endorsing the Aetna plans as a possible alternative for members whose needs may be benefited, any decision to leave TRS-Care is one that should be made with education, review, and caution.

TRTA feels comfortable that Aetna will assist our members in making an educated decision, even if that decision is to stay with TRS-Care. As always, TRTA recommends careful review of any health care options, as a decision to leave TRS-Care could mean you may not be able to return to the program in the future.

Even if you or your spouse has considered leaving the TRS-Care program, please know that TRS-Care may still be the best option. We encourage you to communicate with TRS about any decisions you make regarding your health insurance coverage. Please be aware that if you leave TRS-Care, you will not be able to re-enter the program if you are already age 65 or older unless you have a special enrollment event, which is rare.

TRTA also urges caution for the next several months, as many retirees may be contacted by a variety of insurance companies in the individual market offering health care options. TRS-Care participants are part of a group plan, and the recent changes made to the TRS-Care program have prompted insurance companies to begin offering numerous alternative health options for retirees.

Understandably, choosing insurance products can be an overwhelming experience! TRTA cannot say whether or not one insurance product will work better for you and your spouse than another. TRTA’s coordination with TRS and Aetna, however, ensures that you will be communicating with representatives who are familiar with your current TRS-Care coverage and can answer your questions effectively.

How to Learn More

  • Beginning October 3, 2017, you may visit the Aetna/TRTA offerings website online at www.healthspire.com/TRTA. (Please note, this website will not be live until Tuesday, October 3).
  • 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.
  • Beginning October 5, 2017, you may 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.
  • If you decide to opt out of TRS-Care retiree health insurance benefits, you will still need to inform TRS by calling 1.888.237.6762.

Thank You

Thank you for your membership to TRTA. If you know a retiree who is not yet a member of TRTA, please encourage them to join.

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

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