TRS premiums skyrocket

EL PASO, TEXAS (KTSM) - The Teacher Retirement System of Texas is hiking up it's premiums after years of no increases to it's health insurance plans. The change means of public education employees now have to pay hundreds of dollars monthly. 

TRS serves nearly 270,000 retirees in El Paso and across Texas, some of whom are using the system's healthcare insurance as a supplement.

" I was a teacher for 25-years and a counselor for 11, so that's 36-years in the retirement system and I've always been happy with them," said retired teacher Rowena Garcia, "but this time I feel very betrayed because whoever accepted this deal with Humana, our Medicare supplement, was certainly not looking out for a retired teacher."

She said her monthly bills with TRS went from $130 to $529 for her and her husband. A difficult payment to make without a source of income and she is apparently not the only one searching for an explanation, since this has caused a high volume of people trying to call the TRS. 

KTSM contacted the TRS through email and were given the following response: 

"TRS-Care was facing a projected $1 billion shortfall for the retiree health plan in the 2018-2019 biennium.  As a result, the legislature contributed an additional $700 million to sustain the program.  The remaining shortfall was addressed through adjustments to premiums and benefits to help to sustain the program. The retirees have not seen any contribution increases in more than 12 years and saw few benefit changes in the same time frame. 

 

TRS began communicating the upcoming rate and benefit changes to retireees last summer and significantly increased the outreach in the fall.  In addition to mail outreach and electronic channels, TRS hosted a series of more than 90 meetings across the state reaching more than 45,000 retirees.

As a result of recent plan health changes and pension benefit system upgrades, TRS has experienced much higher than usual call volumes and longer hold times.  To address these needs, TRS added additional capacity, training new agents to handle health related calls, as well as pension inquiries.  TRS also has two telephone lines to meet member needs, including one dedicated to TRS-Care.  In recognition that the pension benefit line has at times been at capacity, TRS recently posted this information on its web page and included it as a recording on the pension benefit line: 

 
TRS apologizes for any inconvenience you’ve experienced during this period of high call volume. In order to best serve you, we ask that you call 1-800-223-8778 about your pension benefits or 1-888-237-6762 for TRS-Care questions."

 


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