AlaskaCare Employee News | June 2020 Special Edition

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June 2020, Special Edition | #92

Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)

COVID-19 Information and Resources for AlaskaCare Members

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 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. It also covers up to eight counseling sessions per problem, per year at no cost to you. You can also contact Alaska’s suicide prevention and someone-to-talk-to line at (877) 266-help, or text 4help to 839863.

Remember: most employees have access to EAP services. Employees covered under a union health trust should contact their trust provider for information about the services available to them.

What AlaskaCare is Doing for You

COVID-19 Testing: Effective March 9, 2020 through the end of the public health disaster or as mandated by the Federal CARES Act, the AlaskaCare employee health plans are waiving member cost share (e.g. deductible, co-insurance) for laboratory tests ordered to diagnose and treat COVID-19. 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 the diagnostic tests are billed with the office visit.

Waiving Cost Share for COVID-19 Inpatient Hospital Services: If you need inpatient treatment for COVID-19, AlaskaCare is here to help with the cost.  Effective March 25, 2020 through August 31, 2020, the AlaskaCare employee 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 in-network charges related to COVID-19 and related diagnoses.

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. Effective March 4, 2020, the AlaskaCare employee health plans are temporarily expanding coverage of telemedicine services delivered by your regular providers in alignment with Medicare temporary telemedicine expansions. For more information about the complete list of covered telehealth benefits, please review the AlaskaCare Health Plan Temporary Telemedicine Liberalization, or if you or your provider are unsure which telehealth services are eligible for coverage, please contact Aetna at (855) 784-8646 for more information.

Suspension of Disenrollment: Worried about paying your premiums? We will work with you to help you keep your health coverage.

Effective April 1, 2020 in accordance with federal guidelines, AlaskaCare is temporarily suspending disenrollment for members continuing their coverage under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) who fail to pay health benefit COBRA premiums timely. Please contact the Division to learn about your options. All missed premium payments are due in full 60 days following the termination of the national public health emergency per IRS regulations.

Medication Preparation: Effective March 4, 2020, through July 2, 2020 the AlaskaCare employee plans temporarily lifted restrictions on early medication refills. Members may obtain an additional 90-day supply of valid prescriptions. This does not apply to opioid medications.

Effective July 3, 2020 members requiring additional early medication refills due to reasons associated with the COVID-19 health emergency should ask their pharmacist to contact OptumRx.

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

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. 

Take Everyday Precautions

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

  • Wear a cloth face covering in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies), especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.
  • 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.
  • Stay informed—keep up to date with the latest guidance from federal, state, and local health organizations

Recipe of the Month

Grilled Eggplant Parmesan Sandwich



Exercise of the Month

The Leg Raise

An exercise that works the lower
abdominal muscles.


Health Fact of the Month

Combat your yen for sugar by following a Chinese medicine approach. Eat foods such as endive, radicchio, cooked greens, and olives to curb sugar cravings.

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: OptumRx Specialty
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