Illinois retired teachers are in the dark about their health coverage.
TRIP is the Teacher Retirement Insurance Program. For those on Medicare, it can function as the supplemental insurance.
For those teacher retirees not old enough or who do not qualify for Medicare (Yes. Many Illinois teachers do not qualify for Medicare) it is their sole health insurance.
This may come as a surprise to some: Retirement health care does not come free to teachers. We pay most of the premium. Active teachers also pay into TRIP. The state and the home school district pay little into TRIP. Unlike our pension, it is not constitutionally protected since for some strange reason it is not considered a benefit.
Central Management Services (known as CMS) manages health care for teacher retirees.
Word has come from the Teacher Retirement System, IEA, IFT and the Illinois Retired Teachers Association that those covered by TRIP and Medicare will have to make some health coverage choices very soon.
This morning Janet Kilgus, Retired Chair of IEA, sent out this email.
You may want to have your members forward this to their legislators. We are finding that many legislators do not know that those of us 65 and older who are on Medicare and who use TRIP insurance for our secondary insurance (as well as others on state insurance plans) are going to be forced to make choices we fear we will not happy about but also which we are currently “in the dark” about.
The following was recently posted on the CMS web site.
Please keep in mind that this is the first step in the process of having a different carrier/plan for those age 65 or older who are also eligible for Medicare. This same carrier/plan will also be used for the state employee/retiree health plan.
The next step will be for CMS to review the bids and choose carriers. CMS has promised that TRS stakeholders (IRTA, IEA, IFT, Administrators, School Board Association, etc.) will be informed of any changes prior to a new type of plan for retirees and the specific procedures for implementing this change.
Please do NOT call TRS requesting additional information because we don’t have any at this time. As soon as we receive additional information, we will forward it to you.
State-sponsored Medicare Plan
The State of Illinois requested bids for a State-sponsored Medicare plan on June 21, 2013. It is the goal of the State of Illinois, Department of Central Management Services to have a contract in place by October 1, 2013, which will allow an enrollment period to make elections which will be effective January 1, 2014. One or more of the following options will be available choices for coverage for anyone who has Medicare as their primary coverage:
- Medicare Advantage PlanMedicare Supplement
- Nationwide PPO
Once the contracts are in place, DCMS will schedule informational/educational seminars regarding the new health plan options for those retirees who will be affected. The locations and times of the seminars will be posted on this website once they are scheduled.
More information will be posted to this website as it becomes available. Please check back often.
Note: At this time, members who have one or more dependents on their coverage who do not have Medicare as their primary coverage will not be required to change to one of the new Medicare plan options.
TRS Director of Outreach
Retired teachers who depend on TRIP and Medicare are absolutely in the dark about the coming changes to our health coverage. When CMS releases the options, retirees will have a very short amount of time to investigate their options, talk to their families and make a choice.
It is frightening to many.
The committee which is supposed to maintain oversight of CMS, made up of the stakeholders such as IEA, IFT and IRTA, has met only one time in the past six years. That one meeting was several weeks ago.
The situation is a mess.