From time to time the Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) previews its news bulletin, The VOICE.

Below you will find excerpts from an article on how TRTA is working to preserve TRS-Care and provide the best health care options for retired educators.

You can read the entire article here.

TRS–Care has provided health care coverage for hundreds of thousands of retired educators and many dependents for more than three decades—a much needed benefit for those who dedicated their lives to school children and who live on modest fixed incomes. Legislative changes in 2017 resulted in a plan that does not always fit all needs for all plan participants.

The changes to TRS–Care last year created a difficult situation for many Texas public education retirees, not just for plan participants, but also for the Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) and legislators. Previously, TRS–Care offered multiple plans to choose from. Now there’s one (each for over 65 retirees and for under-65 retirees), and that one–size–fits–all plan doesn’t work for every retiree or dependent. This new reality is motivating some TRS-Care participants to consider the individual Medicare marketplace where health care options vary widely.

More than 37,000 TRS-Care participants left and enrolled in an individual plan in 2017. Since then, many TRTA members have told us that a local broker has advertised that they can offer members a lower rate and better coverage than the current TRS–Care plan. Members have asked us if that is true and, if so, is TRTA offering any sponsored, trusted program to evaluate alternative options to TRS–Care? Whether TRS-Care is right for you depends on your individual needs.

In an effort to help our members, we’ve taken an in-depth look at TRS-Care, and you will find this information in the upcoming edition of The VOICE.

Due to our members’ demand for TRTA to find a trusted partner in the individual Medicare marketplace, we are proud to announce our partnership with Via Benefits Insurance Services brought to you by our benefits partner AMBA.

Does that Mean TRTA is in the Insurance Business? Is TRTA Competing Against TRS-Care?

No, TRTA is not in the insurance business. We are not competing with TRS or TRS-Care.

We are working with Via Benefits to provide a marketplace of Medicare policy options to retirees over the age of 65 with both Medicare A and B coverage. We’ve developed this plan because TRTA represents the entire population of TRS retirees. Prior to the changes to TRS-Care, there were many TRTA members in the individual Medicare marketplace. Since the changes, that number has grown significantly, and all of these members are looking to TRTA for a trusted partner to work with.

That tells us a lot of people need help with their Medicare options. TRTA’s number one priority is helping public education retirees. We’re leveraging our membership size with Via Benefits to offer something that our members can use and that no one else can deliver. Via Benefits is a trusted benefit partner with organizations in the states of Ohio and Nevada, and with large private employers like General Motors. TRTA is the largest retired educator organization in the nation and we are offering a marketplace driven solution for those who need it.

What do you say to someone considering the individual marketplace?

The first thing I tell them is to stop and evaluate their position. If you leave, you can’t come back. If you’re a dependent, and you’re saying that you need something else, then I would look to a marketplace solution that’s very transparent. But first you should talk to TRS for consultation. If the issue with the health care is purely about cost, then you can compare TRS–Care to the marketplace. If there’s another reason, then I suspect that a lot of those issues can be resolved by working with TRS. If you decide to leave TRS–Care, work with a partner that you can trust. TRTA has searched all over the country for a group we believe represents our values and expectations when working with a retiree or dependent who needs a plan in the individual Medicare marketplace.

TRTA supports TRS–Care as the best first option for retirees.

Who’s Via Benefits?

Via Benefits is the oldest and largest private Medicare marketplace that will, at no cost to you, review your health care plan to ensure that you have the coverage that is right for your 2019 needs and budget.

They do this by comparing your current coverage and anticipated needs to the coverage offered by the leading national and regional plans available in your area. They offer a selection of affordable and competitive plans including Medicare Advantage, guaranteed issue Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap) and Medicare Part D Prescription Drug plans.

A 15–minute conversation with a Via Benefits licensed benefit advisor will help you understand whether an individual Medicare plan is a better fit—offering equal to or better coverage for less cost. These knowledgeable advisors have helped more than 1.8 million retirees find coverage that meets their needs and budget.

Is TRTA Recommending this Over TRS–Care?

We know your health care options have changed. Everyone’s situation is unique. For many, TRS–Care is still a great option. For others, TRS–Care does not fit as well as it once did when there were more plan options. We want what is best for every TRS retiree. If you are a TRTA member and you want an option in the individual Medicare marketplace, you won’t find a better partner than Via Benefits.

What You Can Expect When You Call Via Benefits

The advisor will ask a few questions, such as:

  • How is your health?
  • What medications do you take?
  • Who are your doctors, and what are your preferred hospitals?
  • What are your 2019 travel plans (if you plan to travel)?
  • What do you like about your current TRS–Care coverage?

They’ll take this information and find a selection of insurance plans that meet the criteria you’ve outlined. They’ll review each option, giving you ample opportunity to clarify plan details. Once you understand the plans available in your area and how they compare to your current plan, you’ll be able to make an informed choice about your 2019 coverage. If the advisor’s recommendation is that TRS–Care is the right plan for your needs and budget, the advisor will let you know. If you decide that an alternative plan is a better fit, the advisor will help you complete and submit your application.

Via Benefits:

  • Has been vetted and approved by TRTA and AMBA
  • Employs benefit advisors that provide unbiased advice at no cost to you—benefit advisors are salaried and focused on finding you the right plan
  • Offers thousands of plans from over 125 insurers
  • Enables you to evaluate and understand your coverage options

Why You Should Review Your Health Care Coverage Every Year

  • Your needs and medications change, and so should your coverage
  • Plan rates change
  • Peace of mind

Is TRTA Being Paid by Via Benefits to Offer This Alternative?

No, TRTA is not being paid by Via Benefits. This is an option we support for our members to have the flexibility they may need in their health care choices.

As a reminder, be sure to look for the complete article when The VOICE is released!

VIA Benefits Contact Information

+1 888 651 7306 | TTY: 711
Monday through Friday, 7:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m.