This is the ninth post in our A Dozen Days, A Dozen Ways to Vote Your Profession series.
At issue: State healthcare programs for active and retired educators are quickly approaching a funding crisis. Both programs are administered through the Teacher Retirement System (TRS) and are funded in part by appropriations from the Texas Legislature. Throughout the country, healthcare costs have risen in both the public and private sectors. With recent legislatures’ failing to adequately fund public education, an even greater burden has been placed on educators to absorb healthcare cost increases.
The problem for active educators: TRS-ActiveCare, the health insurance program for most active public education employees, is struggling to generate enough revenue to cover its claims.
- ActiveCare premiums increased by a range of 9 to 25 percent, depending on which plan members participated in, over the last year.
- ActiveCare claims last year exceeded its premiums by $142 million.
- There were 1,732 claims last year that cost ActiveCare over $100,000 each.
- ActiveCare paid 79 percent of its claims dollars last year on behalf of just 10 percent of enrollees.
- The trend of rising premiums is projected to continue, and more employees are opting out of comprehensive coverage and seeking cheaper and less inclusive healthcare plans.
- State funding for ActiveCare has not changed since 2002, despite the rising costs.
The problem for retirees: TRS-Care, the health insurance program for retired educators, has not seen such dramatic premium increases and is benefiting from recent legislative changes. Still, if the legislature fails to address healthcare funding in 2015, here is what is projected to happen to TRS-Care:
- The retirees’ healthcare plan will run out of funding in 2016.
- TRS-Care will face a deficit of $1 billion by the end of 2017.
- Retiree premiums would have to increase by 300 percent in order to keep TRS-Care afloat.
A solution lies in the hands of legislators: TRS-Care and TRS-ActiveCare will be in jeopardy if the legislators we elect to represent us fail to take action. The 84th Legislature must address the looming crisis by increasing funding, not only for healthcare but for public education in general. Many legislative races are in play this election year, and you have the power to choose pro-public education candidates who will fight for you and make sure you have access to quality health insurance. Use our 2014 Races search feature to view your legislative candidates’ Survey Responses and Voting Records. You’ll be able to gain insight on whether they are willing to support educators and students by providing the necessary appropriations for public education. Please be an informed voter and vote your profession in the March 4 primary.