AlaskaCare Retiree Health News | Monthly e-newsletter | April 2020 Special Edition

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AlaskaCare Retiree Health News

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Volume 24, Special Edition | April 2020

Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)

COVID-19 Information and Resources for AlaskaCare Members

What AlaskaCare is Doing for You

Waiving Cost Share for COVID-19 Inpatient Hospital Services

If you need inpatient treatment for COVID-19, AlaskaCare is here to help.

Effective March 25, 2020, the AlaskaCare employee and retiree health plans are temporarily waiving applicable cost sharing provisions including deductible, coinsurance, and co-pays up to recognized charge for inpatient admissions and medically necessary transportation for both in-network and out-of-network charges related to COVID-19 and related diagnoses. 

AlaskaCare previously announced that we would waive your share of the cost for FDA approved testing and office visits for COVID-19 and other respiratory infections. If you’re not sure if your COVID-19 test is FDA approved, ask your healthcare provider or call Aetna at (855) 784-8646.

Expanded Coverage of Telemedicine

AlaskaCare is making it easier for you to connect with your regular health care providers remotely during the COVID-19 public health emergency. Retroactively effective March 4, 2020, the AlaskaCare employee and retiree health plans are temporarily expanding coverage of telemedicine services delivered by your regular providers in alignment with coverage updated by Medicare. While AlaskaCare already covered many telemedicine services, we’ve expanded the list of covered telehealth benefits to include services associated with:

  • Emergency department visits
  • Initial hospital care and discharge management
  • Critical care services
  • Home visits
  • Neonatal and pediatric care
  • Initial and continuing intensive care services
  • Physical and occupational therapy services
  • Clinical psychologist, clinical social worker, and speech language pathology services

For more information about the complete list of covered telehealth benefits, or if you or your provider are unsure which telehealth services are eligible for coverage, please visit the AlaskaCare website, or contact Aetna at (855) 784-8646.

AlaskaCare will also temporarily waive your share of the cost, including deductible, coinsurance, and co-pays up to recognized charge for eligible telemedicine services provided by network and non-network providers in accordance with Aetna’s payment policies.

Don’t forget, you also have temporary access to Teladoc!

Teladoc doctors are available for general medical consultations 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They can evaluate your risk for COVID-19 and help with next steps when necessary. Teladoc can also fulfill other health care needs unrelated to COVID-19 and is a convenient and affordable way to receive care whenever you need it, from wherever you are within the United States.

Suspension of Disenrollment

Are you worried about paying your premiums? We’ll work with you to help you keep your healthcare coverage.

Effective April 1, 2020, AlaskaCare is temporarily suspending disenrollment from AlaskaCare health plan coverage for members continuing their coverage under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA), or paying health benefit premiums through Direct Bill, who fail to self-pay health benefit premiums timely.

Coverage at Temporary COVID-19 Facilities

If you need care from a temporary facility or alternate healthcare location, you’ll be covered.

The AlaskaCare employee and retiree health plans will pay claims for covered services when members are billed for services located at, sponsored by, or facilitated by the local, state, or federal government during this pandemic until such alternate sites are closed.

Streamlining Administration

AlaskaCare is working with Aetna to temporarily ease administrative requirements during the COVID-19 public health emergency. This includes:

  • Extending the duration of existing medical precertifications for services from six months, to nine months; 
  • Suspending management tools for inpatient care, including precertification, retrospective review, and other requirements; and
  • Working with Aetna to increase claim turnaround times to facilitate faster payments to providers.

To see the full list of actions the AlaskaCare plan has taken to support members, please visit the AlaskaCare webpage.

Resources for Coping with COVID-19 Fears

The outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) may be stressful for some people. Fear and anxiety about a disease can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions in adults and children. If you or a family member are struggling, please don’t wait to reach out. You have resources, and we are here to help.

AlaskaCare Employee Assistance Program 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.

The EAP staff are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. To speak with a counselor, call (855) 417-2493. This service provides assessment, treatment, and referral services. You can also contact Alaska’s suicide prevention and someone-to-talk-to line at (877) 266-help, or text 4help to 839863.

Aetna is offering webinars to help you navigate these challenging times. Webinars include:

  • Staying CALM to Cope
  • Challenges for Parents 
  • Ways to Stay Connected 
  • Ways to Relieve Stress 

For more information and to sign up, click here

The preceding temporary administrative changes are prospective in nature and shall remain in effect until earlier of the date of: 1) the termination of the suspensions contained in the applicable COVID-19 Disaster Order of Suspension; 2) the termination of the Declaration of Public Health Disaster Emergency issued by Governor Mike Dunleavy; or 3) the national public health emergency is terminated by the Secretary of Health and Human Services; including any extensions or amendments thereof. The temporary administrative changes listed above are in response to a State of Alaska and federally recognized health emergency and do not provide a vested right to coverage for any individual. The Division of Retirement and Benefits retains the sole discretion to rescind or modify these temporary administrative changes depending on the circumstances.

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
DRB Call Center: (907) 465-4460 |Toll Free: (800) 821-2251

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

Long Term Care Benefits: CHCS Services, Inc.
Member Services: (888) 287-7116

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