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Teachers' Retirement Board Negotiates Lower Costs and Enhanced Health Care Benefits for Retirees with Medicare

August 9, 2021

MONTPELIER, VT — Jon Harris, Chair of the Vermont State Teachers’ Retirement System (VSTRS) Board, announced Monday that after a rigorous bid process, the Board selected Vermont Blue Advantage (VBA) to deliver Medicare Advantage health insurance for VSTRS retirees with Medicare. “The reason for the change is simple – it allows us to closely match the benefits provided to Medicare-eligible members and provide significant enhancements, including a new vision and hearing benefit, at reduced premium averaging between 30% and 40%.”

The VSTRS Board is responsible for providing Vermont’s retired teachers with access to high quality health insurance.  Historically, health insurance has been provided through a partnership with the Vermont Education Health Initiative, or VEHI, to all retired teachers.  This year, VEHI partnered with VBA and submitted a joint bid in which VEHI will continue to provide health insurance to VSTRS’s non-Medicare retired teachers through the same group health plans as are in place today, and VBA will provide health insurance to Medicare-eligible retirees through Medicare Advantage plans.  

Vermont State Treasurer Beth Pearce noted: “I am pleased to join Chair Harris in announcing that in concert with Treasury staff, the VSTRS Board found and selected a plan option that will not only offer familiar benefit features at a significantly lower cost per month to Medicare-eligible retirees, but will also add new benefits, enhance telehealth and preventive care, and offer extensive provider choice. This amounts to great health care services and more money in retirees’ pockets.”

“I welcome members of VSTRS with Medicare,” says Pam Getsie, Plan President of Vermont Blue Advantage. “The customized plans bring VSTRS retirees and their dependents with Medicare the health care advantages they have earned and deserve, and the unmatched confidence that comes from carrying a BlueCross® BlueShield® card in your wallet.”

“I am pleased that we can offer a high-quality Medicare Advantage plan to the retired teachers and employees of our public schools, while substantially reducing VSTRS’ health care costs,” said Don George, President and CEO of Blue Cross. “This is precisely why we formed Vermont Blue Advantage: to deliver excellent products that offer peace of mind and savings to our long-term client partners and their retirees.”

Mark Hage and Bobby-Jo Salls, Trust Administrators for VEHI, said, “VEHI has proudly served the retired members and their dependents in VSTRS for two decades.  The VEHI team is pleased that we can continue to serve the non-Medicare retirees and their families and VSTRS as Medicare-eligible members transition to Medicare Advantage plans.”

The new plans will take effect on January 1, 2022. Over the course of the next few months, retired members will be receiving more specific information about what is changing and what is staying the same.  There will also be multiple opportunities for retirees to learn more about the new plans through a series of webinars delivered by staff from VSTRS, VBA, and VEHI.