The TRS-Care Issue Explained


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TRS-Care is the health insurance program more than 260,000 retired Texas educators rely upon. The program is provided by the Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS), the state agency responsible for running teachers' retirement pensions.

During the 85th Regular Session of the Texas Legislature, TRS-Care faced a $1.1 billion budget shortfall. If nothing had been done by the Legislature to address this issue, retirees' premiums would have skyrocketed (even tripling), and the program could have closed within two years, leaving many without a quality health care option. The Texas Legislature made changes to TRS-Care funding for the program to remain solvent.

In 2016, the Legislature held an Interim Study Committee, which studied the issue of rising TRS-Care health insurance costs. The committee put forth two proposals, both of which required retirees to pay the entire shortfall. Read TRTA's full review of the study here.

Texas retired educators live on a fixed income. The average retiree receives $2,035 per month from the TRS pension. Ninety-five percent of Texas retirees did not pay into Social Security during their careers, and those who do receive Social Security are often harmed by federal provisions called the Windfall Elimination Provision and the Government Pension Offset.

Retirees can not afford to pay for the entire TRS-Care shortfall.

TRS-Care was created in 1986. It was originally designed to be a placeholder health insurance program for retirees. However, as the program grew and more retirees paid into it, TRS-Care became a reliable, quality health care program for teachers and other Texas educators. 

However, with rising health care costs, TRS-Care expenses have outgrown its income. TRS-Care is primarily funded by retired teachers, but it also receives funding from active educators, school districts and the state. The state's contribution level is equal to 1 percent of active educator payroll. Health care costs are rising at a disproportionate rate as compared to teacher salaries. Thus, TRS-Care will continue to see budget shortfalls under its current system. The TRS-Care funding system must be re-worked to satisfy its modern needs.

How You Can Help

1. Call your legislators! You can reach your State Senator and your State Representative in Austin by using this toll–free Legislator Hotline: 1.888.674.3788. 

2. If you once taught a current Texas state legislator during your career, please contact the TRTA office in Austin at 1.800.880.1650, or email us at info@trta.org. We could use your help this session!

3. Email your legislators! If you already know your legislators’ names, emailing them is easy! Texas Senators: firstname.lastname@senate.texas.gov. Texas Representatives: firstname.lastname@house.texas.gov. Not sure who your state legislators are? Just visit the Who Represents Me website and enter your address. Look for your State Senator and State Representative.

4. Sign up for TRTA’s free e–newsletter service The Inside Line so that you can receive up–to–the–minute updates about what’s happening at the Capitol! You can subscribe here. Read all of the latest updates about what's going on this legislative session by clicking here.

5. Check your email regularly, and when you receive The Inside Line from Tim Lee that includes an Action Alert, click on the alert link to send your legislators an urgent message! TRTA will often use these special alerts when action is needed right away, such as when a bill affecting your retirement benefits is up for a vote.

6. Like TRTA on Facebook and share our posts about TRS–Care.

7. Find and friend your legislators on Facebook! Just type their title, first and last name into the Search tool on Facebook to find them. Be sure to click “Like” once you find their page. Not all legislators have Facebook pages, but many do. Facebook is a great way to stay in touch with legislators and share urgent messages from TRTA with them.

8. Create a post on your Facebook wall, sharing a simple message such as “My name is (first name) (last name). I am a retired teacher, and I need the Texas Legislature’s help! I taught in Texas public schools for (number) years, and I use TRS–Care for my health insurance. Without TRS–Care, I would not be able to afford (example: medical treatments for my diabetes).” Insert your own personal story about what TRS–Care means to you and how important it is to your health and retirement security!

9. Write an editorial and send it to your local newspaper! You can find a sample editorial here.

 

Frequently Asked Questions (Click Question to Expand)

Will there really be changes to TRS-Care this session? Should I really be concerned?


What would it take to keep TRS-Care reasonably affordable?


Is it likely that the Texas Legislature will provide this level of funding?


So, if the Legislature DOES NOT fix the broken TRS-Care funding system, what will happen to retirees UNDER the age of 65?


So, if the Legislature DOES NOT fix the broken TRS-Care funding system, what will happen to retirees OVER the age of 65?


If we are shifting the costs to the retirees, why is it just us?


What is the likelihood that the school districts and active educators will be asked to contribute more, i.e., share the pain with retirees?


Will the high-deductible plan for under 65/Medicare Advantage only for over 65 solution fix the overall problem with TRS-Care?


What if I cannot afford this health care?


Will my doctors take this new insurance plan?


I am not retired yet. Will this impact my health care options or my ability to retire?


I do not have TRS-Care and my annuity is not keeping pace with the cost of living. Is the Legislature considering any benefit increases for TRS retirees?


Do my legislators have the same insurance as retired teachers?