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

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Volume 31| December 2020

COVID-19 Vaccine & Vigilance

COVID-19 Vaccine

Your AlaskaCare plan has you covered!

When the time comes, know that your COVID-19 vaccine will be covered. Vaccine distribution began this week and due to limited supplies will occur in phases, focusing first on high-risk health workers, first responders, and older adults living in long-term care facilities. As more vaccine becomes available, additional groups will be eligible for vaccination. It is expected to take many months to vaccinate the entire U.S. population. 

Rest assured that the AlaskaCare health plan is covering the vaccine at no cost to you during the public health emergency. When available during the public health emergency, you can receive any FDA approved COVID-19 vaccine at any authorized vaccine provider, which may include pharmacies, public health clinics, physician offices, and hospitals. If you are Medicare-eligible, the COVID-19 vaccine will be covered under your Medicare Part B benefit, for all other members the COVID-19 vaccine is covered by the AlaskaCare plan under either your medical or pharmacy plan, depending on the authorized vaccine provider.

For more information, check out the links below: 


Ways to Stay COVID-19 Resilient this Winter

  • Avoid the 3 C's:
    • Crowded places,
    • Close contact settings, and
    • Confined/enclosed spaces.
  • Do the 3 W's:
    • Wear a mask,
    • Wash your hands, and
    • Watch your space.
  • Get caught up on preventive health. 
  • Move your body regularly—get outside every day.
  • Connect and seek support.
  • Plan healthy meals. 
  • Support your community.

Emergency Medical Transport Services

Emergency Medical Transportation: Planning Ahead Can Save You Money
Each year, thousands of Alaskans find themselves in sudden, unexpected health situations that require emergency medical transportation, commonly referred to as medevac. Life-saving air medical transportation can be expensive. Emergency medical transportation flights in Alaska can cost tens of thousands of dollars. Air ambulance and emergency medical transportation services are a covered benefit under the AlaskaCare plan, subject to the requirements for a medical emergency and the plan provisions. However, not all providers of emergency medical transportation services are in-network, which can impact your out-of-pocket costs.

In-Network Medical Transportation
If the emergency medical transport service provider is in-network, the provider and the plan have already agreed on prices for services and your costs are fully covered under the plan subject to standard cost sharing and applicable to plan provisions. You won’t receive a balance bill from in-network providers for any difference between what they bill and what the plan pays. LifeMed Alaska and Medevac Alaska are in-network providers for the AlaskaCare Plans and accepts Aetna’s reimbursement as payment-in-full for our members.

Bedside Membership Agreements
In 2018 guidelines were created by the State of Alaska, Division of Insurance to clarify the ability for air ambulance membership agreements to be sold to individuals who use the services without a waiting period. This allows any conscious patient to sign up for an air ambulance provider prior to use of such services. This includes emergency bedside situations at the hospital, as patients enter the aircraft, while on the aircraft, and perhaps even after leaving the aircraft. Knowing this vital information can protect you and your family financially.

Out-of-Network Network Medical Transportation
When a provider does not participate in the network, the provider and the plan have not agreed on what amount will be reimbursed for this service. For most charges from out-of-network providers, the AlaskaCare plan pays at the 90th percentile of the prevailing charge rate for the geographic region where the service was provided. This prevailing charge rate is based on data collected by FAIR Health, an independent health care data aggregator. An out-of-network provider may balance bill you for the difference between their charge and what the AlaskaCare plan has paid. You can find more information about FAIR Health here.

What Do I Need to Know About Balance Billing?
Balance billing is a type of healthcare billing that occurs when an out-of-network provider bills a plan member for the difference between the out-of-network provider's charge and the amount paid by a member's benefit plan for the out-of-network service. This situation can happen when a provider does not participate in a member's provider network, because the provider and the plan do not have a contractual agreement about the amount that will be reimbursed for their services.

For example: Under the terms of Rose’s health plan, after she meets her deductible she is responsible for 20% of the cost of services and the plan is responsible for the remaining 80% (until Rose meets her out-of-pocket costs for the year, at which point her plan will pay 100%). Rose has already met her deductible for the year and visits an out-of-network provider. She is billed $1,200 for the service, but her plan has determined that the recognized charge for that service is $1,000. According to the terms of her plan, Rose is responsible for $200, and the plan is responsible for $800. Because the provider is out-of-network they may bill Rose for the balance, or the additional $200 that is not covered by her plan – bringing her total charge to $400.

Suggestions for Protecting Yourself from Balance Billing by medical transportation Providers

  • Use an in-network provider when possible. LifeMed Alaska and Medevac Alaska are in-network providers for AlaskaCare members that services individuals located in Alaska.

Consider membership options from out-of-network providers servicing your community. We are always trying to contract with out-of-network providers so you don’t have to worry about balance billing, but it is not always possible. If you think you may need emergency medical transportation services from an out-of-network provider, consider researching the options available in your area. Some out-of-network providers offer the opportunity to purchase an annual membership that can provide additional protection from balance billing. As you evaluate the best choice for your personal circumstances, keep in mind that the providers and membership options available in each area may differ. If you would like to know if a specific provider participates in Aetna’s network, call Aetna at (855) 784-8646.

Holiday Emotional Well-Being Resources

While the holidays can be a time of warming hot chocolate, fragrant pine needles and the sounds of jingle bells, we know this year’s celebrations look different. With Alaska’s waning daylight hours making the days dark and COVID safety recommendations making us feel separate, becoming aware of our mental and emotional health is more important than ever. This is the first time in our country’s history that a mental health crisis will affect our entire nation at once. Aetna provides resources and support to focus on flattening this “second curve” – the less visible but growing mental health crisis. While so much seems behind us, we know there is still some miles on this road ahead and it is in our everyday practices that bring us peace during whatever challenges that arise.

This is the perfect time to dive into increasing resiliency and strengthening our mental and emotional health. Emotional well-being resources are available on Aetna’s website, and offer multiple options for support.

Resources for Living

COVID-19 is bringing a lot of changes to our lives, including stress and anxiety. Resources for Living mental well-being services include:

  • Real-time phone support to help callers cope with emotional impact of the pandemic, reach out by calling (833) 327-2386.

  • Access to informational content, community referrals, and management consultation for organizations.

  • Support for basic needs including family meals, access to childcare, and financial guidance.

  • Partnering with vendors to provide direct access to essential needs for seniors.

  • Access to Aetna’s Resources For Living (RFL) Toolkit online, which includes lives webinars, targeted articles, and expert resources on key topics like managing stress, helping young children cope, and strategies for medical staff.

COVID-19 Preparedness Guide

This guide helps you learn, connect with resources, and take initiative on being prepared with this changing lifestyle.

This guide shares information such as a quarantine shopping list, support groups, meal delivery applications, prescription delivery, remote fitness channels, and more!

Staying connected during social distancing can be challenging, especially for seniors who are at-risk for social isolation. Aetna's RFL is providing well being and emotional support for seniors, expanding social connectedness outreach. This enhanced support system is available for anyone, you do not need to be covered by an Aetna plan, so please feel free to share with friends and family.

Join Us for Future Town Hall Events

  Please join us on January 21 for a Town Hall event.  

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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COVID-19: What Your Health Plan is Doing for You

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.

Sign up for insights into DHSS's COVID-19 response
Subscribe to DHSS Insights for behind-the-scenes news about Alaska’s COVID-19 response and other efforts to protect the health and well-being of Alaskans. Stay informed and help put a lid on COVID!

Welcome the Following Providers to the Network

Aetna’s Alaska Network Continues to Grow!

Help us welcome all new network providers:


  • Aurora Family Medical Clinic
  • Martin Kaszubowski, MD PC
  • Akins Mobile Health & Clinical Consultants
  • Anodyne Pain & Wellness of Anchorage
  • Exhale Massage & Body Work
  • Perception Physical Therapy
  • Alaska Shoulder & Orthopedic Institute
  • Arctic Aurora
  • Talking with Ty Speech Therapy
  • Royal Body Care Massage
  • Myobalance, LLC  
  • Alaska Pediatric Surgeons/Oncology

Palmer / Wasilla

  • Maple Springs of Palmer
  • Integrative Wellness Solutions
  • Anesthesia Care Associates  
  • True Hope Counseling and Consulting
  • First Choice Physical Therapy
  • Alaska Facial Plastic Surgery & ENT  
  • Karis Integrative Medicine




Kenai / Soldotna
  • South Central Family Practice, PC
  • North Star Therapy


  • Enhance Orthopedics
  • Tranquility Behavioral Health

Using network providers can provide substantial benefits to members through the elimination of what's known as balance billing. The AlaskaCare plans limit payment of covered services to the recognized charge for the service provided. An out-of-network provider may bill you for the difference, or the balance, between the recognized charge and the actual charge. This is often referred to as balance billing and solely the member’s responsibility to pay. Network providers have agreed to accept, as payment in full, the negotiated charge. Therefore, you are not subject to balance billing when you use a network provider.

You will also have network access to many more Anchorage-area ambulatory surgical centers. To find an in-network provider, or to see if your provider is in-network, call the Aetna Concierge at (855) 784-8646, or use the online DocFind tool.

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