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.”
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!