Important Health Care Dates and Options for Retirees

Published date: 12/7/2017

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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