**This article is updated with 2017-2018 TRS rates, which are even higher than last year.**
Texas Teachers: 'Tis the season for finals and holiday parties--but this year be sure to add one more thing to your "To Do" list: save money by dropping your family from TRS health and sign them up for a private plan by December 15th!
Wait... what? Here's the skinny: TRS used to be a great deal for teachers and their families. Unfortunately that’s just not the case any more. We’ve found that teachers can save significant amounts of money and get better coverage by putting their family on a non-TRS plan.
Let’s look at an example and run a few simple numbers. Below are the TRS premiums offered for the 2017-2018 school year, straight from the TRS Activecare website and brochure.
These are the gross monthly costs before any contributions from the state or from your school district. This year, the average contribution a teacher will receive (state + district) is $225/mo for the teacher only. Typically, there is no additional contribution for a spouse or for a family. Your district may contribute a little more or a little less, but we’ll use the average $225 for our example.
- Scenario #1: For a single teacher looking at ActiveCare 1-HD, he or she can expect to pay $351 (premium) – $225 (contribution) = $126/mo. Not bad!
- Scenario #2: What if the teacher is married and wants to add his or her spouse on the same plan? The “Employee and Spouse” premium for ActiveCare 1-HD is $991 (premium) – $225 (contribution) = $766/mo. That’s $640 more each month just to add a spouse!
- Scenario #3: Now let's talk about a family with kids... that includes a teacher, spouse and child(ren). The “Employee and Family” premium for of ActiveCare 1-HD would be $1,316 (premium) – $225 (contribution) = $1,091/mo for a family of 3. Sure, health insurance has gotten expensive, but this is insane! That’s nearly $1,000/mo more expensive just to add a spouse and a kid.
What if instead of adding a spouse and/or children to TRS, you put them on a private plan? The answer is your family could save a lot of money AND get better coverage. Considering that private plans from Blue Cross Blue Shield, Aetna, Humana, Cigna, United, and others similar to ActiveCare 1-HD generally cost between $150-$300 a month depending on your age, it would cost a lot less to put a spouse and/or children on a private plan.
Our couple could put the teacher on TRS ($126/mo) and the spouse on a similar plan from Blue Cross (~$200/mo) for a total of ~$326/mo. That’s less than half than the $766 they would pay on TRS! And by the way, Blue Cross has more doctors on their plans than ActiveCare does.
Similarly, our family could find great coverage for the spouse and child for $400-500/mo total instead of an outrageous $1,316/mo on TRS.
The same math also generally holds true for families looking at ActiveCare Select and ActiveCare 2. The costs for adding a spouse and children is significantly higher on TRS than what the spouse or child could get from an equivalent private plan.
It's currently open enrollment for individuals on the health insurance market (non-TRS plans). That means now is the time to make changes or add your family if they are not covered. December 15th is the deadline for plans that start January 1st. January 31st is the last day to sign up for plans in 2016 (would start March 1st).
Ready to make a change? A few easy steps and you are on your way to big savings:
- Use our quick and easy online tool to see the options for your family.
- See our FAQs about signing your family up on a separate plan and dropping them from TRS.
- That's it! We're here to help answer any questions you may have. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Still have questions? We've answered a few of the most common ones here!