During the April 17 TRS Board Meeting, trustees voted to approve new health-care plan options and rate changes that will lower health-care costs and reduce premiums for nearly half a million Texas school employees. Some TRS-ActiveCare members with families may see premiums reduced by as much as 8% starting September 1, 2020.
These savings are found in the new TRS ActiveCare Primary+, which will replace TRS-ActiveCare Select. Additionally, members covering children will see an average rate decrease of 3% in every plan except TRS-ActiveCare 2. The premium increase for those with employee-only coverage is less than $20 per month in the high deductible plan. In addition to the above, TRS is introducing a new plan called TRS-ActiveCare Primary that offers the lowest premiums and copays for doctor visits. Participants who choose this new plan will pay $30 to see their primary care provider, $30 for physical therapy, and $70 to see other specialists. These saving are possible as a result of the changes in providers approved at February’s Board Meeting.
TRS also is attempting to reduce barriers to care by increasing access through plans like TRS-ActiveCare HD and TRS-ActiveCare 2 that will be supported by a broad nationwide network. TRSActiveCare Primary and TRS-ActiveCare Primary+ will be supported by a “quality-driven” statewide network.
These changes are coming about as a result of the feedback TRS received from meetings with school district leadership and directly from members through its annual customer service satisfaction survey. The results highlighted several areas where members felt TRS could improve its health-care options, including lower premiums, more affordable coverage for families, and broader networks with fewer restrictions. While it’s mostly good news with the plan changes, those in West Texas switching to Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas benefits may see a 5% increase in co-insurance and a different co-pay structure.
TRS worked with its new vendor to offer more options at better rates while still keeping medical growth costs for the system low. TRS health-plan costs have increased by 7% from 2013-2019, which is significantly lower than the 24% increase many other self-funded employers in Texas have experienced. TRS also has managed to keep administrative costs to about 4%.
TRS is also looking to improve its communications and support system for members by introducing a pilot Ambassador Program to have specialists positioned around the state to support districts in the field. While most meetings must be virtual due to the coronavirus pandemic, TRS is still working to support benefit administrators through these changes with seven virtual regional trainings, an administrative guide and training survey, and an annual enrollment toolkit. Members can expect annual enrollment announcement mailers, email updates through The Pulse, an annual enrollment video plus enrollment guide, a district intranet toolkit, access to a provider search tool, as well as a PCP selection FAQ.
Given all the big changes members are encouraged to look closely at each option and choose the plan that best meets their needs. It is also important to keep in mind that your district will determine your final share of the total premiums. School districts must combine their funding with state funding to contribute at least $225 per employee per month, but some may choose to contribute more than the minimum to reduce your monthly cost For more information on TRS health-care Plans, follow the links below.