After the budget meeting for the state of Texas on Tuesday, March 28, many retired teachers are left wondering if they need new health insurance. The budget didn’t leave nearly enough room for TRS Care funding, which is where most retired Texan teachers get their healthcare coverage from. Many of them also supplement that with Medicare, but TRS Care represents a significant part of their insurance for healthcare services.
TRS Care presented its proposed budget as part of the meeting, but their proposal had to be cut down significantly in this first draft of the budget. A different budget may end up going into place, but that’s impossible to predict at this point. What many people are predicting right now as that the premiums on TRS Care will increase dramatically as a response to the severe budget cuts.
It is estimated that the premiums could increase by as much as two or three times what they are now, and that is going to price many retirees out of these plans. They must turn elsewhere to get their medical insurance coverage. They have other options, of course, but not many of them know what those options are. Those who already supplement with Medicare may be looking to fully fund their coverage with Medicare, even adding on additional coverage through Medicare plans to make up for the TRS Care plan they must cancel.
What Price Increases Would Mean
Let’s look at exactly how the potential rate increases will affect current TRS Care subscribers. Keep in mind that it is not definite that the rates will change. Even the budget is in its first draft right now, so that could change as well. We are just looking at the potential for change and helping people determine what they can expect from a likely scenario. The budget for TRS Care hasn’t been met for some years now, and it has been operating at a deficit during that time. It is expected to reach a tipping point this year, and new rates could go into effect as soon as September 2017.
If that happens, then the average cost of a TRS Care plan, which is around $450, could skyrocket to $1,000 or even $1,500. That would be simply unaffordable for most of its current subscribers. They mainly live off their pensions, and they would not have the funds to keep paying the premiums, if they were to go up that high. Even increases much lower than that could be catastrophic, and many people would have to look somewhere else for their coverage.
Thankfully, there are other options available to them, and they can find help through Medicare and its supplement plans for a reasonable price. If they do decide to switch to a Medicare plan and drop their TRS Care coverage entirely, then they should know that they cannot go back and sign up for the TRS Care plan later. Once they are out, they are out for good, and there is no going back. However, if the rates really do increase so much, they would not have much of a reason to go back anyway. Still, it is something to keep in mind for those who are prone to impulsive decisions. They should stop and take some time to think the this through before dropping their current plan and signing up for something else.
What Medicare Offers
A Medicare Supplement plan can provide a lot of the same coverage as the TRS Care plan. It can take care of deductibles, co-payments, coinsurance, blood costs, hospital room expenses, foreign travel costs for emergency care and more. Retirees will need to decide if they need a high coverage or low coverage plan, though.
There are lots of different Medicare supplement plans, and each one offers something unique in regards to its coverage. They may find that they only need a little additional coverage beyond the base Medicare plan. That base plan already covers them for quite a bit, and they may not need much extra.
If they do need plenty of additional coverage to the base plan, though, then they should look at the high coverage plans. Plan G and Plan F are far and away the most popular of the Medicare supplement plans. They offer the largest overall coverage, and they have the highest price. Consumers can save money by comparing rates on them from one insurance company to the next. Unlike the standard Medicare plan, they won’t be able to buy the supplement plans through Medicare. They must purchase them at private insurance companies, such as Aetna, AARP, Mutual of Omaha and others.
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They can take comfort in knowing that the rates won’t affect their coverage at all. They can seek out the lowest rates on these plans and not have to worry if their coverage will change once it is completely standardized. The rates are not standardized, though, and they can change at any time.
Plan G is the one that has the potential to save retirees the most money. It’s the one most people sign up for, but each person needs to consider if it is a good fit for them. It may have too much coverage for many. This plan costs around $125 a month, but cheaper and higher prices are certainly available, so consumers should do some shopping around.
If they sign up for Plan G, they will have all supplemental medical expenses covered by this plan except for the Medicare Part B deductible. That’s only a $183 charge, though, and it will only be charged very once in a while.
It may be cheaper to go with Plan F, which covers that deductible. The price difference can be marginal between the two plans, and it is worth any retiree’s time to examine these two plans and compare their price and coverage to ensure they get the best plan for their situation. TRS Care Retirees have great options with Medicare and Medigap Insurance. Find them now by calling us at 1-888-891-0229, or enter your zip code below.
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