TRS publishes long-awaited details on the new retiree healthcare plans

The Texas Retirement System of Texas (TRS) has posted to their website details on the new retiree healthcare plans that will go into effect January 1, 2021.  

TRS-Care covers 226,000 retirees and families. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas (BCBSTX) will administer TRS-Care Standard for those under 65, while United Health Care (UHC) will administer TRS-Care Medicare Advantage for those who have Medicare. The switch in providers was approved in February in response to member feedback about the cost of coverage.

TRS-Care Standard is poised to save $140 million over three years with BCBSTX, and UHC will save TRS-Care Medicare Advantage $314 million over five years. TRS-Care is counting on these savings to help improve the long-term sustainability of members’ health care benefits. Some important things to know about your retiree healthcare benefits: 

  • Pharmacy benefits will stay the same. TRS-Care Standard participants still have prescription drug coverage through CVS Caremark. TRS-Care Medicare participants have access to TRS-Care Medicare Rx through SilverScript. Members can continue to use the mail order service or current pharmacy. 
  • TRS will continue to provide $0 COVID-19 diagnostic testing, telemedicine, and hospital stays for all of 2020 in addition to other TRS health plan benefits for both active and retired members. TRS is continuing to monitor the impact of COVID-19 on the health plans and is getting guidance from health officials to find the best long-term solution for additional COVID-19 coverage in 2021. 
  • The 86th Texas Legislature appropriated $231 million to keep TRS-Care premiums the same through 2021, and the added savings from the new provider contracts allow TRS to support this commitment.
  • Members will not need a referral from a primary care provider (PCP) to see a specialist under either TRS-Care plan. 
  • Most current providers for TRS-Care Standard participants are in the BCBSTX and UHC networks. TRS is working with BCBSTX and UHC to build custom websites that will be online later this year. Members can look up their providers on the BCBSTX website and members can still see any provider that accepts Medicare and will bill UHC.  

TRS-Care members should be receiving plan information in the mail over the next month, and TRS will be hosting virtual counseling sessions and webinars throughout the Fall. Members can schedule individual virtual counseling sessions to discuss their benefits by calling 1-800-223-8778. An overview of the retiree healthcare plans and commonly asked questions can be found here.