AlaskaCare Retiree Health News | August 2018

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AlaskaCare Retiree Health News

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Volume 2 | August 2018

In This Issue

Welcome to Your Monthly E-Newsletter

Your AlaskaCare health team is now sending regular e-newsletters to provide you accurate and timely information about your AlaskaCare retiree benefits, directly from the Alaska Division of Retirement and Benefits. You can expect to receive an e-newsletter once a month; in addition, the Division may also send out timely information and updates through this email list. If you prefer not to receive these email updates, you can unsubscribe at any time. You will continue to receive the HealthMatters newsletter in the mail, as well as your important health plan information.

Do your retiree friends and neighbors also want to be “in the know” about their health plan? Forward them this e-newsletter and encourage them to sign up! To sign up:

  1. Go to in your Internet browser.
  2. Click on the envelope icon.
  3. Enter your email address.
  4. There will be a list of subscriptions you can sign up for. Select “AlaskaCare Retiree News and Updates” under AlaskaCare and click “Submit.”

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Tele Town Hall on EGWP: Thursday, August 23

Join us in a tele town hall Thursday, August 23 at 10 a.m. to learn more about Enhanced EGWP and what it means for Medicare-eligible health plan members and dependents.

Retirees may be called when the event starts. Just answer the phone to participate!

Registration is recommended to ensure you receive a call and can participate in this event. Registration will close at 9 a.m. AKST, one hour before the event starts.

Make sure we have your number! Pre-register now here.

The event will also be live-streamed online so you don’t have to call in to hear what is going on. The live-stream will be available shortly before the event at the registration link.

NOTE: You do not have to register in order to listen to the live-stream.

Can’t do either of these? Don’t worry! We have you covered the event will be recorded and a link to the recording will be shared online at after the event.

For more information about EGWP, click here.

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Retiree Health Plan Advisory Board: Upcoming Meeting on August 29

The Retiree Health Plan Advisory Board (RHPAB) is tasked with facilitating engagement and communication among the Commissioner of Administration, the Division of Retirement and Benefits, and the community of AlaskaCare retirees. The seven-member board meets four times a year.

The board has formed a subcommittee for more in-depth review and discussion about EGWP and the modernization projecta collection of initiatives and proposed changes to the health plan to provide updated and improved benefits for all retirees. The subcommittee has held two meetings so far, on July 26 and August 10, to review the Department’s overview and analysis of the initiatives. Documents and audio recordings of the meetings are posted on the board’s web page.

The next board meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, August 29, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., with locations in Juneau and Anchorage and teleconference provided. Members of the public are always welcome to attend and observe the meeting, or you can listen in via phone. Each RHPAB board meeting includes time on the agenda for public comment, and written comments may be submitted to the board at If you want to be sure that your comments are included in the agenda packet for the next quarterly board meeting, please submit them at least thirty days in advance of the next scheduled meeting. Please see the RHPAB public comment guidelines for more information and what to expect in a board meeting. For more information, including teleconference information and meeting materials, please visit the RHPAB web page.

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Important Notice: Recall of Heart Medications Containing Valsartan


If you take medication containing valsartan to manage high blood pressure and heart failure, please review the recent recall notice on the FDA website. Compare the medicines and manufacturers listed in the recall to the label on your prescription bottle. If this information is not listed on your prescription, contact your dispensing pharmacy or your prescribing physician to learn whether your medication contains valsartan.

If you are taking one of the recalled medicines, follow the recall instructions provided by the specific company found on the FDA recall page. Important note: Because valsartan is used in medicines to treat serious medical conditions, patients taking the recalled valsartan-containing medicines should continue taking their medicine until they have a replacement product. Contact your physician or pharmacy if you have any concerns about how this recall may affect you and your medications.

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Using Opioid Medications Safely: New Protections in AlaskaCare

The Alaska Opioid Policy Task Force, after substantial expert and public input, endorses a comprehensive public health approach to the prevention and reduction of opioid misuse and abuse in our state. Opioid use disorders, like other substance use disorders, are a disease that responds to treatment. Supporting Alaskans in recovery from opioid use disorders reduces the risk of relapse. Equally important are prevention policies that improve people’s overall well-being, and can help reduce the risk of opioid use, misuse, and abuse. Protecting against opioid misuse also means having better control over the supply of prescription opioids to patients, which requires tighter limits on prescribing these medications.

AlaskaCare has adopted the recommended safety measures for opioids, effective January 1, 2018. The changes are based on recommendations from the Alaska Opioid Policy Task Force (AOPTF), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) action plan on opioid medications. Here is what you need to know about these safety measures:

  • The plan will allow up to a seven-day supply of opioids. A pre-authorization is needed to obtain more than a seven-day supply of opioids during any ninety-day period.
  • Members who want to obtain more than a seven-day supply should ask their doctor to submit a pre-authorization in advance whenever possible. If necessary, members may request that a seven-day supply of opioids be dispensed while they await approval of a pre-authorization request by their doctor.
  • Members coming home from a surgery may also be affected if they need more than a seven-day supply of pain medication.
  • New quantity limits of 120 doses per 30 days’ supply will apply.
  • The new quantity limits will have a 180-day look-back period.
  • Members currently taking a drug that has been added to the opioid safety list will not be grandfathered in.

If you or someone close to you need information about the safe use of opioid prescriptions, we encourage you to contact the Aetna Concierge at (855) 784-8646 with any questions and to get support. Always discuss new prescriptions with your medical provider before leaving their office.

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Know Your Benefits

You worked hard during your service to Alaska, and you’ve earned these benefits! We want you to understand your AlaskaCare health plan, so you can make the best use of your health plan for yourself and your family. As a small service to you, we will feature information about health plan benefits in each issue. This month’s featured benefit is the Aetna Nurse Line. For questions about your benefits, you can always reach out to the Aetna Concierge with questions at (855) 784-8646.

This month’s featured benefit: Aetna Nurse Line

Do you have a question about your health? Not sure whether to schedule a doctor’s visit about it? The Aetna Nurse Line is a free service available to members, staffed by nursing professionals who can provide information and advice over the phone, and help point you in the right direction for your health care needs. The Aetna Nurse Line is available 24 hours, 7 days a week, toll-free at (800) 556-1555.

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Keyword of the Month: Actuarial Value

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The world of health care is complex and uses a lot of jargon. You don’t need to be a health care specialist to get the most out of your benefits but knowing some of the technical terms makes it a little less mysterious. This month’s keyword is Actuarial Value.

Actuarial Value is an important concept in health plans that helps plan administrators, insurance companies and others describe the overall value of the plan, and the average costs borne by the plan administrator and the member. First, a little more about the profession of actuarial science: actuaries use health data, population projections, and other statistics to estimate the current and future health needs of the people who are members of a health plan, the costs of paying for members’ health care, and the total costs of the plan. This information helps the health plan set monthly premium prices for those required to pay a premium and describe the actuarial value of the plan so it can be more easily compared with other plans.

Actuarial value is described as a percentage, representing the average breakdown of the cost to cover health care for a member each year. The percentage usually refers to the percent of cost that the health plan or insurer will cover: a plan with 80% actuarial value would cover, on average, 80% of total health care costs, and the individual member would pay the remaining 20% in the form of co-pays, deductibles and out of pocket costs. A lower-value plan may be closer to 60% or 70%, meaning that the member has more responsibility for health care costs. The AlaskaCare Defined Benefit retiree health plan has an actuarial value of 90%.

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