AlaskaCare Employee News | March 2020 Special Edition

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Special Edition

March 2020 | #90


Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)

COVID-19 Information and Resources for AlaskaCare Members

Increased Demand for Tele-Medicine May Mean Longer Wait Times

Telemedicine services, including Teladoc, are an excellent way to connect with a health care provider from the comfort of your own home. As the COVID-19 disease outbreak progresses, increased demand for telemedicine services is occurring across the state and the nation.

As clinicians work to meet this increased demand for telemedicine services, members may experience longer wait times for consultations than they experienced previously. We appreciate your patience as health care delivery systems work to expand their capacity to handle increased patient volumes.

If your situation is more urgent, or if you are experiencing an emergency, please contact an urgent care clinic or call 911. If you believe that you may have been exposed to COVID-19 and are seeking medical care, call your health care provider before going in so that they can prepare for your visit.

Virtual care resources available to members include:

  • Aetna 24-Hour Nurse Line: (800) 556-1555
  • Teladoc: (855) TELADOC or (855) 835-2362

Elective Procedures—03/19/2020
Health Mandate from Governor Dunleavy

All patients, providers, hospitals and surgical centers are required to postpone or cancel all non-urgent or elective procedures for three months to decrease the overall impact on the Alaska health care structure and preserve personal protective equipment. This would include pre-scheduled surgeries deemed non-essential. This mandate does not apply to surgical cases coming through the emergency room or for an existing hospitalized patient. Other states may be taking similar action. If you are affected by this contact your provider to discuss your options.

Note: Precertification for surgery is valid for nine months. If you are unable to complete your surgery within the nine-month time frame, your provider may need to obtain precertification at a later date.

View all health mandates issued by Governor Mike Dunleavy, DHSS Commissioner Adam Crum, and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Anne Zink.

Elective Oral Health Care—03/19/2020
Health Mandate from Governor Dunleavy

Dental clinical settings and oral health professionals are recognized within the highest risk categories for both transmission and contraction of the coronavirus, as most dental procedures release significant aerosols in the operatory atmosphere. Therefore, in concurrence with recommendations from the American Dental Association (ADA), the Alaska Dental Society, and the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, elective oral health care procedures are required to be postponed for a period of one month.

View all health mandates issued by Governor Mike Dunleavy, DHSS Commissioner Adam Crum, and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Anne Zink.

Drive Through COVID-19 Testing Available in Anchorage

Providence Alaska Medical Center is partnering with Alaska Native Medical Center, Alaska Regional Hospital and Anchorage Neighborhood Health Center to offer free drive-through COVID-19 testing to the community. You must have a referral from a clinician before being tested for COVID-19. If you are seeking a referral, please contact a clinician to discuss your options. 

If you’re experiencing symptoms, call your health care provider. Here is an additional tool you may want to consider:

What Your AlaskaCare Health Plan is Doing for Members

In response to the national public health emergency associated with the COVID-19 disease outbreak, the Commissioner of the State of Alaska Department of Administration directed the Division of Retirement and Benefits to take the following steps:

Maintenance Medications that Require Prior Authorization
Maintenance medications that require prior authorization, set to expire between March 17 and May 1, 2020 will automatically be extended by 90 days. This measure is to help ease the burden on an already stressed provider network. Opioids or medications that are dosed for a finite duration will follow the normal process for renewals. Prior authorization requirements for medications that are newly prescribed will remain in place.

Medication Preparation
Effective Tuesday, March 3, 2020, the AlaskaCare employee and retiree plans lifted restrictions on early medication refills. Members may obtain an additional 90-day supply of valid prescriptions. This does not apply to opioid medications.

Diagnostic Testing
Effective March 9, 2020, the AlaskaCare employee and retiree health plans are waiving member cost share (e.g. deductible, co-insurance) for laboratory tests ordered to diagnose and treat COVID-19 including: respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), influenza A & B, viral respiratory panel, and COVID-19 testing. To qualify for waived deductible and co-insurance, laboratory tests must be deemed medically necessary under the terms of the plan and they must be FDA-approved. The co-insurance and deductible are also waived for the office visit if the primary diagnosis code for the visit is COVID-19 or any of the above diagnostic tests are billed with the office visit. Reimbursement for members that obtain services from an out of network provider may result in balance billing if the provider charges above the recognized charge.

Crisis Response Line
We know that the uncertainty around COVID-19 may cause stress and anxiety. If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health crisis, please know that help is available. Aetna is providing support for AlaskaCare employee and retiree health plan members through the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) during the COVID-19 public health event. EAP staff is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. To speak with a counselor contact AlaskaCare EAP at (855) 417-2493. You can also contact Alaska’s suicide prevention and someone-to-talk to line at (877) 266-help or text 4help to 839863.

The Division of Retirement and Benefits retains the sole discretion to rescind or modify these temporary administrative changes depending on the circumstances.


COVID-19 Updates

Aetna Resources for Living Available to the General Public

Aetna has expanded its Resources for Living program to the general public, regardless of whether or not the person is an Aetna member during the COVID-19 outbreak. Anyone can call in and access the services listed below.

For Individuals:
AlaskaCare members: (855) 784-8646
Non-AlaskaCare members: (833) 327-2386

Coalition Health Clinics Open for Scheduled Appointments Only

Effective Tuesday, March 17th the coalition health clinics will not accept walk-in visits at the Anchorage and Fairbanks locations. This will allow the dedicated provider more time to provide telephonic consults. Effective Saturday, March 21st all Saturday appointments are stopped until further notice.

  • Anchorage Coalition Health Center | (907) 264-1370
  • Fairbanks Coalition Health Center | (907) 450-3300

We Are All in This Together

What happens in the next few weeks depends on what each of us does today. Everyone can play their part in slowing the spread of COVID-19, protecting our most vulnerable Alaskans, and making sure our health systems can handle this pandemic. What we do to practice social distancing now may save people’s lives.

Take Everyday Precautions

Avoid close contact with people who are sick. Take everyday preventive actions:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing, or having been in a public place.
  • If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • To the extent possible, avoid touching high-touch surfaces in public places—elevator buttons, door handles, handrails, handshaking with people, etc. Use a tissue or your sleeve to cover your hand or finger if you must touch something.
  • Wash your hands after touching surfaces in public places.
  • Avoid touching your face, nose, eyes, etc.
  • Clean and disinfect your home to remove germs: practice routine cleaning of frequently touched surfaces (for example: tables, doorknobs, light switches, handles, desks, toilets, faucets, sinks & cell phones)
  • Avoid crowds, especially in poorly ventilated spaces. Your risk of exposure to respiratory viruses like COVID-19 may increase in crowded, closed-in settings with little air circulation if there are people in the crowd who are sick.
  • Avoid all non-essential travel
  • Stay informed—keep up to date with the latest guidance from federal, state, and local health organizations

Health Benefit Contact Information

Division of Retirement and Benefits
Member Services: (907) 465-4460 | Toll-Free: (800) 821-2251

Medical Benefits: Aetna
Member Services: (855) 784-8646

Dental Benefits: Moda/Delta Dental
Member Services: (855) 718-1768

Pharmacy Benefits: OptumRx
Member Services: (855) 409-6999

Specialty Pharmacy: BriovaRx
Enrollment Services: (855) 427-4682

Health Flexible Spending Accounts (HFSA): PayFlex
Member Services: (800) 416-7053

Surgery Plus
Member Care Advocate: (855) 715-1680

Vision & Audio Benefits: Aetna VSP
Member Services: (855) 784-8646

Member Services: (855) 835-2362