What about retirees who are 65+ ?

Up to now, this series has focused primarily on Texas teachers, like me, who retired before the age of 65, thinking promises about our healthcare would be kept. We know the 2017 Legislative Session destroyed those promises. One question that keeps coming up is this: “What about those who are 65 and over?”

The bottom line is that the news isn’t much better for them.

In keeping with the comparison between TRS and ERS, here is what that looks like for retirees 65 and over:

2017 TRS: Under the current healthcare plan, retirees are able to choose between TRS-Care 1, 2, or 3. Since most retirees choose 2 or 3, let’s focus on those. Let us also focus on individuals who worked in public schools in Texas for 30 or more years.

For retirees who currently have Medicare Part A and Part B who choose TRS-Care 2, their current premium is $60 per month. For those with TRS-Care 3 (the high plan), their current premium is $90.

For retirees who currently have Medicare Part B only and have TRS-Care 2, their premium is $145. Those with TRS-Care 3 have a $215-per-month premium.

For retirees whose spouse is also insured through TRS, with both the retiree and the spouse having Medicare Parts A and B, the TRS-Care 2 premium is $160 per month for both. The TRS-Care 3 premium is $235 per month. (There are other premiums based on which Medicare plans the spouse has; however, this provides a basic overview of current TRS-Care premiums.)

2017 ERS: Retirees must be enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B.

As with ERS retirees under the age of 65, those over 65 also get free healthcare. That’s right! Their premium is $0.

ERS retirees over the age of 65 who are under HealthSelect Medicare Advantage pay $157.08 per month to insure a spouse. Those who have KelseyCare Advantage HMO pay $131.84 per month for the spouse.

2018 TRS: As with those of us under the age of 65, starting January 1, 2018, TRS retirees over the age of 65 will no longer have the option of choosing TRS-Care 1, 2, or 3. This group of TRS retirees will all have Medicare Advantage administered through Humana. For the retiree only, the monthly premium will be $146. For those who previously had Medicare Part A and Part B, that means an increase of $56-$86, depending on whether they had TRS-Care 3 or TRS-Care 2, respectively. For retirees who had Medicare Part B only, it is a decrease of $69 or an increase of $1, again depending on which tier they are on currently.

Starting January 1, the premium for the retiree and spouse will rise from $235 (Tier 3) or $160 (Tier 2) per month to $590 per month, an increase of $355-$430 PER MONTH.

The deductible for those 65 and over will be $500, and the maximum out-of-pocket will be $3500.

(According to the Texas Retired Teachers Association, Human has indicated it will pay healthcare bills even if a retiree’s doctor’s office does not take Medicare Advantage.)

Note that while these healthcare changes don’t go into effect until January 1, 2018, pharmacy changes go into effect September 1 of this year. Express Scripts will be out and CVS Caremark will be the new pharmacy benefit provider.

2018 ERS: Guess what? ERS retirees will see no premium change. Yes. Just like ERS retirees under the age of 65, ERS retirees who are 65 and over will continue to get healthcare with no monthly premium. The monthly premium for spouses will remain the same.

How did this happen to TRS retirees? Can anything be done about it? There is still much more to explore during this Summer Series.

Chris Ardis retired in May of 2013 following a 29-year teaching career. She now helps companies with business communications and social media and works as a sales coordinator for Tony Roma's and Macaroni Grill. Chris can be reached at cardis1022@aol.com.