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

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Volume 30| November 2020

Dental-Vision-Audio Open Enrollment is Happening Now

Open Enrollment for the AlaskaCare Retiree Dental-Vision-Audio (DVA) Plans opened on October 20 and will end November 25, 2020.

This is your opportunity to review your DVA coverage options and make benefit elections for you and your family for the next plan year, beginning on January 1, 2021.

If you do not participate in Open Enrollment, your benefit selections will not change from what you have now. You can make changes to your benefit elections online at during the Open Enrollment period, which began October 20 and will end November 25, 2020. 

You can review the 2021 Benefit Comparison Guide and 2021 Enrollment Guide containing monthly premium information and coverage comparisons online:

Ready to Enroll?

Find the Online Enrollment Form and Instructions at

Need more information?

  1. Visit the AlaskaCare Retiree Dental-Vision-Audio Plan webpage. This page is updated frequently with more information about your dental plan options and open enrollment.

  2. Check out the DVA Frequently Asked Questions. If you have questions, we may already have provided the answer in our online FAQs.

  3. Join us for the next Retiree Town Hall event on November 19, 2020.

  4. Contact the Division of Retirement and Benefits Member Service Center. You can reach us toll-free at (800) 821-2251, in Juneau at (907) 465-4460, or at

If you need assistance to complete your enrollment or if you need a paper enrollment form, contact:

Member Service Center

Juneau: (907) 465-4460 | Outside Juneau: (800) 821-2251
Monday - Thursday: 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Alaska Time)

IRMAA Transition

SUCCESS! Your Income Related Monthly Adjustment Amount (IRMAA) reimbursements are about to get a lot easier! Effective January 1, 2021 (create an account as early as December 15, 2020), OptumRx, in partnership with the Division of Retirement and Benefits, will now provide a one stop shop for your 2021 IRMAA needs.

This new process will create a more efficient way for members to receive reimbursement for the Part D IRMAA Surcharge. If you fall into one of the below income brackets and are subject to the Part D IRMAA surcharge for your prescription drug coverage, the Division of Retirement and Benefits will cover the full cost of the premium surcharge each month, through a tax-advantaged Health Reimbursement Arrangement (HRA) account, administered by OptumRx.

This is an annual process since you may have varying amounts of income each tax year. For 2021, Medicare has increased the tax return thresholds for the IRMAA based on the 2019 filing year, as well as reduced the monthly IRMAA amount in each bracket.

Individual Modified Adjusted Gross Income

Household Modified Adjusted Gross Income (MAGI)

2021 Monthly Part D IRMAA Surcharge
Less than or equal to $87,000 Less than or equal to $174,000 Not assessed a surcharge
Greater than $87,000 and less than or equal to $109,000 Greater than $174,000 and less than or equal to $218,000 $12.20
Greater than $109,000 and less than or equal to $136,000 Greater than $218,000 and less than or equal to $272,000 $31.50
Greater than $136,000 and less than or equal to $163,000 Greater than $272,000 and less than or equal to $326,000 $50.70
Greater than $163,000 and less than or equal to $500,000 Greater than $326,000 and less than or equal to $750,000 $70.00
Greater than $500,000 Greater than $750,000 $76.40

Follow these steps to establish your 2021 IRMAA reimbursement account online:

  1. Register and/or log in to your OptumRx account either online or through the mobile app.

  2. Navigate to forms by clicking on the "Information Center" tab on the Navigation bar at the top, select "Programs and Forms", then click on “IRMAA HRA Enrollment Form”.

  3. Complete the online IRMAA HRA Enrollment form.

  4. Navigate to forms by clicking on the "Information Center" tab on the Navigation bar at the top, select "Programs and Forms", then click on “IRMAA HRA Enrollment Form”.

  5. OptumRx will confirm eligibility and set up your Health Reimbursement Account (HRA).

  6. Once your HRA has been created, Optum Bank will send you a Welcome Packet.

  7. Log in to Optum Bank to view your HRA account status/balance or to sign up for Direct Deposit. Your banking information that may be with PayFlex cannot be transferred on your behalf to Optum Bank.

If you have any questions on how to submit your documents online or if you do not have internet access and would like to submit paper documentation, please contact OptumRx at (855) 409-6999.

REMINDER: HRA claims for reimbursement of 2020 IRMAA must be received by March 31, 2021. Retroactive reimbursements will not be issued for claims received beyond 90 days after the close of the benefit year.

To find out if you will be subject to IRMAA, you may contact Social Security at (800) 772-1213. For general questions about your pharmacy benefits, contact OptumRx, the AlaskaCare pharmacy benefits manager at (855) 409-6999. For more information about the HRA account, contact the Division at (907) 465-4460 or toll-free at (800) 821-2251.

Get Ready for Flu Season

Protect Each Other by Protecting Yourself First—Get the Flu Shot this Season

Healthcare systems could be overwhelmed treating both patients with flu and patients with COVID-19. This means getting a flu vaccine during 2020-2021 is more important than ever. Flu vaccine prevents tens of thousands of hospitalizations each year. For example, during 2018-2019 flu vaccination prevented an estimated 58,000 flu-related hospitalizations. Manufacturers estimate between 194 and 198 million doses of flu vaccine will be available this season. So far, nearly 90 million doses of flu vaccine have been distributed in the United States.

It is especially important for:

  • Those over 65 years
  • Those with chronic health issues

When should I get vaccinated?

Today is the best day to get the flu shot!

It is recommended to get a flu vaccine BEFORE the virus begins to spread in your community, as antibodies take about two weeks to develop in the body and protect you. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) encourages people to get the flu vaccine by the end of October. Vaccinations should be available throughout the winter, into January or later.

Prevention is Key

The Flu vaccine is an important preventative tool for everyone:

  • Those with chronic health conditions
    • Flu vaccination has been associated with lower rates of some cardiac events among people with heart disease, especially among those who had had a cardiac event in the past year.

    • Flu vaccination also has been shown in separate studies to be associated with reduced hospitalizations among people with diabetes and chronic lung disease.

  • Those during & after pregnancy
    • Vaccination reduces the risk of flu-associated acute respiratory infection in pregnant women by about one-half.

  • For children
    • A 2020 study found that during the 2018-2019 flu season, flu vaccination reduced flu-associated hospitalization by 41% and flu-associated emergency department visits by half among children (aged 6 months to 17 years old).

Despite the many benefits offered by flu vaccination, only about half of Americans get an annual flu vaccine and flu continues to cause millions of illnesses, hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations and tens of thousands of deaths. Many more people could be protected from flu if more people got vaccinated.

  • The CDC estimates that flu vaccination prevented 7.5 million flu illnesses, 3.7 million flu medical visits, 105,000 flu hospitalizations and 6,300 flu deaths.


There are many similarities between the annual flu and COVID-19. Here is what you need to know about the similarities and differences.


Once you start feeling ill, it’s important to take note of the signs and symptoms you notice. You may also have no symptoms to severe symptoms.

Common symptoms of both COVID-19 and the flu include:

  • Cough
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle pain or body aches
  • Fever or feeling feverish/chills
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
Key Differences

One of the most important aspects to note is that COVID-19 appears to be contagious for a longer period of time than someone infected with the flu, according to the CDC.

  • Flu viruses may cause mild to severe illness like the common signs and symptoms listed above.

  • COVID-19 is an emerging virus with new symptoms being documented all the time. The biggest difference many notice includes change in or loss of taste or smell when it comes to COVID-19 symptoms.

AlaskaCare Has You Covered!

The AlaskaCare Retiree Plan temporarily* covers the flu shot during the COVID-19 public health emergency. Ask for the Trivalent and Quadrivalent influenza (flu) shots along with pneumococcal (pneumonia) shot.

  • If you get your flu or pneumonia shot at a network pharmacy, AlaskaCare will cover 100% of the cost. Call OptumRx at (855) 409-6999 to find a pharmacy in the network.

  • If you use an out-of-network pharmacy for your flu or pneumonia shot(s), an upfront cost applies which can be reimbursed by submitting a claim to OptumRx for the plan’s portion.

  • If you go to your doctor’s office for your flu or pneumonia shot(s), the standard deductible and coinsurance will apply.

* 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.

Reminder: Shingles Vaccine

As a result of the adoption of the AlaskaCare enhanced EGWP, the Division expanded coverage of vaccines covered by Medicare Part D to both Medicare-eligible and non-Medicare eligible retirees when administered at a pharmacy.

Common vaccines that have been added to the AlaskaCare retiree pharmacy benefit include:

  • shingles
  • diphtheria
  • tetanus
  • measles-mumps-rubella (MMR)
  • polio
  • hepatitis
  • HPV

Don’t forgot to have the vaccines administered at your pharmacy!

Your immune system declines as you age and that puts you at an increased risk for shingles. For those who are 50 years and older, the shingles vaccine helps your immune system defend against shingles. Shingles vaccines are typically given as a two-dose series. To ensure you get the protection against shingles, it's important to get both shots. If you’ve already received your first dose, don’t forget to set up a time to get your second dose.

2021 Plan Booklets Open for Public Comment

We Want to Hear from You!

The Department of Administration, Division of Retirement and Benefits, proposes to adopt changes to the AlaskaCare Defined Benefit Retiree Health Plan, effective for the 2021 plan year. The comment period opened October 23 and closes on November 23, 2020.

You may comment on the proposed plan booklet updates by submitting written comments to:

  • State of Alaska
    Department of Administration
    Division of Retirement and Benefits
    P.O. Box 110203
    Juneau, AK 99811-0203

Additionally, the Division of Retirement and Benefits will accept comments by email at Comments may also be submitted through the Alaska Online Public Notice System.

  • A copy of the proposed plan booklet is available on the Division of Retirement and Benefits webpage. A public teleconference to answer questions about the proposed changes will be held on Monday November 9, 2020 at 1 p.m. Alaska time.

    • Teleconference# (855) 244-868
      Meeting# 133 203 3209
      ID# 72257239

  • Public comments will be accepted through 4:30 p.m. AKDT on November 23, 2020.

Join Us for Future Town Hall Events

  Please join us on November 19 for a Town Hall event.
Our partners from Aetna will be joining the event to help answer member questions.

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. Pre-register now online.

We want to hear from you! The next Town Hall Events will be on:

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We Value Your Feedback!

As an employee of the State of Alaska, 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

  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

COVID-19 Coronavirus

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.

Health Benefit Contact Information

Division of Retirement and Benefits
Member Service 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