AlaskaCare Retiree Health News | Monthly e-newsletter | July 2020

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Volume 26| July 2020

COVID-19 Information and Resources for AlaskaCare Members

In response to the COVID-19 national public health emergency declared on January 31, 2020 and the State of Alaska public health disaster emergency declared on March 11, 2020 by Governor Mike Dunleavy, the Division of Retirement and Benefits has implemented temporary plan changes and suspensions in the AlaskaCare health plans.

Learn how your health plan is supporting you.

Stem Cell Therapy: Get the Facts

What Is It?
Stem cell therapy is an exciting, emerging field in medicine, with many possibilities. As noted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, stem cell therapies may offer the potential to treat diseases or conditions for which few treatments exist. Stem cells, sometimes called the body’s “master cells,” are the cells that develop into blood, brain, bones, and all of the body’s organs. They have the potential to repair, restore, replace, and regenerate cells, and could possibly be used to treat many medical conditions and diseases.

Because this is a new treatment, however, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is concerned that some patients seeking a cure are vulnerable to risky, untested stem cell treatments that are illegal and potentially harmful. The FDA is increasing its oversight and enforcement to protect people from dishonest and unscrupulous stem cell clinics, while continuing to encourage innovation so the medical industry can properly evaluate and harness the potential of stem cell products.

To do your part to stay safe, make sure that any stem cell treatment you are considering is either FDA-approved, or being studied under an Investigational New Drug Application (IND), which is a clinical investigation plan submitted and allowed to proceed by the FDA.

FDA Regulation
The FDA has the authority to regulate stem cell products in the United States. Today, doctors routinely use stem cells that come from bone marrow or blood in transplant procedures to treat patients with cancer and disorders of the blood and immune system.

With limited exceptions, investigational products must also go through a thorough FDA review process as investigators prepare to determine the safety and effectiveness of products in well-controlled human studies, called clinical trials. The FDA has reviewed many stem cell products for use in these studies.

The AlaskaCare Health Plan follows FDA guidelines and covers FDA approved services. For information about your benefits, contact the Aetna Concierge at (855) 718-1768. For more information about stem cell therapy, visit the FDA's website.

Reminder: Notify Us of Your
Dependent Status Changes

If you have a dependent that will be graduating from college, remember to notify the Division of Retirement and Benefits of their change in status. You should also notify the Division if you need to add or remove dependents due to marriage, divorce, birth, death, or adoption. You can find the Dependent Status Change form on the Division's website.

In accordance with Alaska Statutes 39.35.680(12) and 14.25.220(13):

  • If your dependent child is under 23 years old, they are required to be registered at and attending on a full-time basis an accredited educational or technical institution recognized by the Department of Education and Early Development.
  • If your dependent child is age 19 or older and is not a full-time student, then the dependent is eligible for coverage only if they are totally and permanently disabled, and the disability was documented prior to their 23rd birthday.

Let us and Aetna know if your dependent child has recently become a full-time student. The AlaskaCare Verification of Student Status Form is available on the AlaskaCare website. 

Have you Checked your
Beneficiaries Lately?

Make sure your money goes where you want it to by keeping your beneficiaries up-to-date on your accounts. Any time you have a major life event, especially if you have married, divorced, or had children, it’s a good time to review your policies.

For further information and beneficiary forms, visit our website

Self-Care During Tough Times

Protecting the health of you and your loved ones has been an important concern for all of us the last few months during the COVID-19 pandemic. Preventing the spread of this disease through hand-washing and good hygiene, physical distancing, covering your face in public places, and avoiding crowded spaces helps us all do our part to protect everyone’s health. But have you also made time to focus on your well-being and practice self-care?

Self-care describes intentional practices to maintain your physical, mental, and emotional health with positive coping strategies to deal with stress. Self-care is always important, but even more so in this stressful and uncertain time, when many of our routines, social interactions and other parts of everyday life have been disrupted. It is normal for all of us—adults, children, and babies—to feel increased stress and anxiety right now. Recognizing this in ourselves and our loved ones is important and giving ourselves the time (and permission) for self-care helps everyone stay healthy and resilient.

So, what does self-care mean? How do I start? Self-care simply means taking time for activities that help you feel good, reduce stress, and keep you healthy. Some ways to care for yourself:

  • Sleep: Get a good night’s sleep, take a nap, or short rest when you are feeling tired.
  • Eat healthy: Cook a nutritious meal, treat yourself to healthy take-out, or enjoy a snack of fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • Stay active: Indoors or outdoors, find a physical activity you like and work it into your daily or weekly routine. Exercise and other activities that raise your heart rate, use your muscles, and get you moving are not only good for your body, but your mental health and stress level as well.
  • Spend time in nature: Exposure to natural settings, from wilderness to city parks to your own backyard, has been shown to have a significant positive impact on mental health. Even having access to a window with an outdoor view, or displaying images of natural landscapes in your home, can boost your mood.
  • Relax: More than ever, finding time to do the things we enjoy is important. Make time for your favorite hobby, reading a new book (or returning to an old favorite), or enjoy a movie or TV show you have been meaning to watch.
  • Communicate: Whether you keep a journal, have a close confidant, share with your partners, or participate in a support group, putting how you feel into words can be therapeutic. Other ways to process our emotions include visual arts, music, dance and movement, creating and inventing.

Self-care doesn’t have to mean alone time. Connect with friends, family, and other people you care about, even if it’s virtually or long-distance. Take a walk with a neighbor, cook a meal with your kids or grand kids, play a board game or watch a movie as a family. Whatever makes you happy and helps you deal with the stress—make time for self-care!

Remember, during the COVID-19 public health emergency, AlaskaCare retiree health plan members have access to support through the AlaskaCare Employee Assistance Program (EAP). Contact the AlaskaCare EAP at (855) 417-2493 or visit for more information.

Need Help Managing Your
Chronic Medications?

The use of numerous prescription and over-the-counter medications is common among seniors. To get the most benefit from those medications, it is important to take each one exactly as your doctor prescribes. It may seem like an overwhelming task, but a little information, organization, and help can keep you on your medication schedule and away from drug interactions.

The Medication Therapy Management Program (MTMP) offered by OptumRx can help. MTMP is focused on improving therapeutic outcomes for Medicare Part D members taking 8 or more chronic medications.

The program includes:

  • A review of medications to assess medication use and identify medication-related problems. This may be conducted person-to-person or "behind the scenes" by a qualified provider or using computerized, clinical algorithms.
  • An interactive, person-to-person consultation performed by a qualified provider at least annually to all MTM-eligible members.
  • An individualized, written summary of the consultation for the member, including but not limited to:
    • a personal medication list (PML),
    • reconciled medication list,
    • action plan, and
    • recommendations for monitoring, education, or self-management.

To see if you qualify for the program, or to register for the program, contact OptumRx Member Services at (855) 409-6999.

We Value Your Feedback!

As an AlaskaCare Retiree member, your input is valued and important. Below, please see a list of ways to contact us with your feedback. Also, a full list of AlaskaCare health plan and partner contact information can be found on our website.

AlaskaCare – Plan Administrator

  • Toll Free: (800) 821-2251
  • In Juneau: (907) 465-4460
  • TDD: (907) 465-2805
  • Fax: (907) 465-3086
  • Email:
Come visit us:
State Office Building
6th Floor
333 Willoughby Avenue
Juneau, AK 99801 
Send us a letter:
State of Alaska
Division of Retirement and Benefits
P.O. Box 110203
Juneau, AK 99811-0203

Please Join Us for Town Hall Events

Thank you very, very much for the town hall meetings. They are wonderful, and it's very good to know you all actually care about us.

         - AlaskaCare Retiree Plan Member in Washington

Town Hall Events are group calls hosted by the Alaska Department of Administration, Division of Retirement and Benefits for all interested AlaskaCare retirees and families to ask questions about the AlaskaCare health plans. You can join the call to learn more about your health plan and ask Division staff any questions you have about your benefits. This format gives retirees a chance to connect directly with Division staff to hear the latest news on all things AlaskaCare, raise questions, share comments, and learn more about the health plans.

Please join us for a Town Hall event on:

For those of you who have participated, thank you for joining us, you have asked some great questions! Town Hall events are held on the third Thursday of the month. Register in advance here to make sure your phone number is on the call list. The event is free, open to all AlaskaCare retirees and dependents, and will last one hour.

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