Health Insurance

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DSC_1321Health Insurance Update

The TRB has adopted a new base medical plan (to read about the plan in detail click here) The plan is an Anthem Blue Cross Medicare Advantage PPO plan. This replaces the Regular Medicare plan with supplemental benefits (Stirling) that now becomes an optional benefit program. To purchase the optional benefit program (Stirling) you must pay the full excess cost of the plan. This will occur during an open enrollment period during April. The Optional plan (Stirling) will cost $125 per month more than the base for each member. So a single individual will pay $1,500 per year more and two individuals will pay $3,000 more per couple per year. For the full outline of the optional Stirling benefits plan click here. Other questions: When do we enroll?When does enrollment end? Do I really get a free gym membership? Click here for answers to some of the most frequently asked question about the new plan.

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The Budget Debate and Our Health Care

The state bi-annual budget process began with the presentation of the Governor’s budget. He is recommended an appropriation to the HIPA (our Health Fund) of 25%. Since 2010, the state has only fully funded the account (33%) once in 2012, leaving approximately $125 million NOT funded as of 2016. This has presented itself as a LOOMING CRISIS.

The TRB (Teachers Retirement Board) requested a full evaluation of the HIPA funding by its Health Insurance consultant, Dr. Joe Fields. The report was dated March 9, 2017 and we quote,

“Given the State’s recent inability to fully fund the TRB Medical Plan and assuming continuation of current policy, it is likely that the Medical Plan Trust Fund will be exhausted in the next 2.5 years. The current amount that the State is underfunding its contribution to the fund is approximately $16 million per year. Given that the State is flat-funding its contribution, the amount of short- funding increases (assuming no changes to funding) over the next two years to $20.6 million and then to $ 26.4 million. This produces a short-funding of $54.8 million over the two and half year period.”

“Given that the balance this year reached a low of $54 million, the fund would essentially be exhausted in two and half years. The way in which cash flows occur in this plan would indicate that any insolvency would most likely occur in October or November of 2019”.

Retired teachers have contributed to their health benefits during their entire educational careers. They have adjusted to new legislation (2006) and they expect the state to honor the legislative contract throughout their retirement. The above information reminds us of the saying”Who is Watching Those Who Should Be Watching for Us?” THE ARTC IS !

Your help is needed at this time to protect your hard earned benefits. Write, e-mail, call, speak directly to your legislators and direct them to fully fund the state portion (33%) to the HIPA for the budget years 2017-2018. For contact information click here.

Rick and Louise Follman, Insurance chairs