TRS, ERS switch insurance providers, local retirees losing access to URHCS

Local News

UPDATE: December 24, 2020 9:00 a.m.

UnitedHealthcare has finalized an agreement with United Regional Health Care System that ensures TRS-Care Medicare Advantage participants will continue to receive care at the system’s hospitals and from its physicians. The agreement takes effect Jan 15, 2021. Between Jan. 1 – 15, participants can still receive care at the system on an out-of-network basis at the same level of benefits.

As a TRS-Care Medicare Advantage participant, you have the same benefits whether you are in- or out-of-network. If you choose to see an out-of-network doctor, you don’t pay any additional out-of-pocket cost beyond what you would pay to see an in-network provider.

If you need help finding a doctor or a specialist, call UnitedHealthcare at 1-866-347-9507, TTY 711, 7 a.m. – 6 p.m. CT, Monday – Friday. Or, find a provider at and click on “Look up a provider now.”

WICHITA FALLS (KFDSX/KJTL) — Some retired employees in the Wichita Falls area may soon have to find a new place for healthcare.

The Teachers Retirement System of Texas and the Employees Retirement System of Texas have awarded Medicare Advantage plan contracts to an insurance company United Regional is not in-service with.

Raymond Cartwright is one retiree who will be affected. After teaching for 40 years altogether in Iowa Park, Holliday, Burkburnett and Wichita Falls, he retired three years ago.

He may soon have to find a new healthcare provider after two decades of going to United Regional Health Care System, whether that be the hospital or the United Regional Physician Group.

“My first reaction was disbelief and then anger,” Cartwright said.

When Cartwright opened the letter from United Regional, he couldn’t fathom what he read.

It explained that the TRS and ERS are moving to a different health insurance company and one that United Regional has no part in.

“They made it sound like you better watch out because you weren’t going to have anybody to see as a doctor or go to the hospital,” Cartwright said. “You shouldn’t let it go this long, you’ve put a lot of stress on a lot of people.”

Medicare Advantage plan contracts for TRS and ERS will go through UnitedHealthcare Incorporated beginning Jan. 1 instead of Humana.

United Regional CEO Phyllis Cowling said they’ve sought more clarity from the health insurance provider to little avail.

“We had trouble getting meetings and even getting them to return our emails and phone calls, until the last couple of weeks,” Cowling said. “They’ve been more willing to engage with us.”

This goes beyond retired teachers, affecting former employees with WFISD, MSU, Allred Prison, the North Texas State Hospital and TX-DOT.

They’ll only be able to utilize United Regional for emergencies.

“We’re trying to get that gap closed, again we know it’s important, it’s important for our community, it’s important for us,” Cowling said. “But we have to do it responsibly.”

As for Cartwright, he’s at a crossroads.

“Could be Kell West, I haven’t checked with them, could be Electra, there’s a hospital there, might have to be the metroplex,” Cartwright said. “I could go look for a different plan, but if I do that I can never rejoin the plan with the Teacher Retirement System.”

A devastating blow to a large group of retirees, as United Regional hopes to seal a deal.

URHCS will continue to accept traditional Medicare and Humana Medicare Advantage.

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