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Retired teachers sickened by increase in healthcare costs

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How about an $1,800 bill to treat the flu?

That’s what retired principal Trace Mahbubani paid in January for premiums, doctors visits, and Tamilflu to treat her husband and herself.

Mahbubani and nearly 250,000 other retired educators, custodians, cafeteria workers, and bus drivers are dealing with soaring health care costs in their state-run health plan.

“The premium went up, but the coverage went down," said Mahbubani. "And both changes are significant.”

Teacher Retirement System - Care, or TRS-Care, faced a budget crisis two years ago, but lawmakers pumped in half-a-billion dollars to help save it. And, legislators ordered the other half-a-billion dollars come out of the retirees’ pockets.

In one case, a $300 deductible became a $3,000 deductible in 2018 - a 900% increase.

Mahbubani says she and her husband can afford to put extra money away to handle the increases, but she worries for the retirees who are on smaller, fixed incomes who were counting on better healthcare insurance.

“All those years of teaching, I was thinking that 'the retirement is set, I don’t need to worry about that.' It’s kind of a slap in the face.”

The Texas Retired Teacher Association and other advocates say the long-term remedy rests with Texas lawmakers.

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