AlaskaCare Retiree Health News | Monthly e-newsletter | January 2021

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Volume 32| January 2021

Coronavirus Vaccine

Alaskans aged 65 years and older are currently eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine!

Alaska’s vaccine supply is currently limited, but in the coming months the vaccine will become more widely available. The State is implementing a phased approach to vaccine eligibility and has shared the requirements and timelines for Phase 1a and Phase 1b—this includes Alaskans aged 65 years and higher.

If you are eligible, please click here to locate a clinic near you and book an appointment. If all slots are full in your area, please keep checking back. The scheduling calendar will be updated daily. As more vaccines become available, more time slots will be added to the scheduling calendar.

The AlaskaCare Retiree health plan covers 100% of the cost for FDA approved COVID-19 vaccines under both the medical and pharmacy plans, at any authorized site of care.

Every state is approaching vaccine eligibility differently. If you are located outside of Alaska, check with local resources to find out when you will be eligible to receive the vaccine in your area.

The Alaska Vaccine Allocation Advisory Committee meets regularly to adjust, clarify, and create more phases, as meets the vaccine distribution quantity. For the latest news from Alaska's Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Zink, about vaccinating Alaskans 65 and older, click here or read the DHSS Press Release

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!

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.

Rest assured, the AlaskaCare health plan is covering the vaccine at no cost to you during the public health emergency. When available, you can receive any FDA approved COVID-19 vaccine at any authorized vaccine provider. This may include pharmacies, public health clinics, physician offices, and hospitals. 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.

Learn how your health plan is supporting you.

It’s Not Too Late to Get Your Flu Shot

It’s not too late to get your Influenza or Pneumococcal Vaccine. Peak flu season is typically in February, and there is still time to receive a flu vaccine. While seasonal influenza viruses are detected year-round in the United States, flu viruses are most common during the fall and winter. The exact timing and duration of flu seasons can vary, but influenza activity often begins to increase in October and drop off in April.

To help support members during COVID-19 the AlaskaCare Retiree plans added temporary coverage of the Influenza Vaccine and Pneumococcal Vaccine. 

Top Diseases of 2020—Inflammation

Inflammation happens to all of us, it’s a part of the body’s natural healing mechanism when an injury or infection happens. However, sometimes the immune system mistakenly perceives healthy tissues or cells as harmful and starts attacking them instead. This can result in headaches, redness, swelling, stiffness, and damage to normal tissues. Inflammation can cause a variety of acute or chronic conditions, and has been linked to diabetes, asthma, Alzheimer’s disease, and various forms of arthritis.

If you are experiencing any pain that comes and goes (acute), most of the time you don’t have to worry. Taking over-the-counter pain relievers can help relieve symptoms or applying cold compresses can reduce swelling. If your symptoms are more serious, such as fever, severe pain, or shortness of breath, it is important to contact a doctor. The cause of such acute inflammation may need more attention and treatment. If the pain is constant (chronic), it is important to speak with a doctor. Pain does not need to become a part of everyday life. Through a physical exam and further analysis, a doctor will evaluate symptoms. Common treatments include changes in diet, exercise, medication, or surgery if necessary.

Easy Prevention Tricks
According to Medical News Today, the best approach to prevent and self-heal against condition related to inflammation is to return to the basics of healthy living, choosing a good diet, getting plenty of sleep, and exercising regularly. Diet and exercise have the strongest impact on managing chronic inflammation, as they help control weight and improve sleep. Other strategies to prevent inflammation can include quitting smoking, limiting alcohol, and finding a new activity to manage stress.

Consider adding these foods with anti-inflammatory properties, high in antioxidants and polyphenols:

  • Olive oil
  • Leafy greens, such as kale and spinach
  • Tomatoes
  • Fatty fish, such as salmon, sardines, and mackerel
  • Nuts, such as walnuts and almonds
  • Fruits, such as cherries, blueberries, and oranges
  • Herbs, such as ginger and turmeric
  • Green tea

Consider avoiding these foods which may increase inflammation in some people:

  • Refined carbohydrates, such as white bread and pastries
  • Fried foods
  • Red meat
  • Processed meats, such as hot dogs and sausage

Telehealth, Telemedicine, and
Teladoc® Digital Support

What’s the difference?

As the use of telecommunications increases in the practice of medicine, the terms telehealth and telemedicine are used often, and at times interchangeably. This isn’t surprising as they encompass similar services, including medical education, e-health patient monitoring, patient consultation via video conferencing, health wireless applications, transmission of image medical reports, and many more.

However, the clearest way to differentiate the two is that telemedicine is a subset of telehealth. Telehealth refers to the broad electronic and telecommunications technologies used to provide care and services at-a-distance. A physician in one location uses telecommunication infrastructure to deliver care to a patient at a distant site. Telehealth typically involves more general health non-clinical services, whereas telemedicine is a specific telehealth that involves a clinician providing medical services.

Use of telehealth began increasing about fifty years ago when hospitals and university-based medical centers began experimenting to reach patients in remote locations. Today, it is evolving faster than ever before with the widespread availability of video chat applications like Skype, Facetime, and Zoom as increased ease of access to computers and internet. The real role of telemedicine at present lies in the convenience it offers to patients and practitioners by cancelling the necessity for a physical visit to get medical advice or treatment. It is cost-effective, in comparison to the process of waiting to see a doctor or practitioner.

Quality healthcare at your fingertips!

Teladoc® is an example of a platform that combines telehealth and telemedicine. It offers virtual doctors’ consultations 24/7/365, by phone or video anytime, anywhere.

AlaskaCare retiree health plan members have temporary access to Teladoc effective on March 10, 2020 through the end of the public health disaster. Take advantage of this short-term measure, with a $0 copay, to conveniently and affordably receive quality medical care.

All Teladoc® doctors are board-certified, state-licensed (with an average of 20 years practice experience) and can treat many health issues, including:

  • Cold and flu symptoms
  • Respiratory infections
  • Allergies
  • Sore Throat
  • Bronchitis
  • Sinus problems
  • Caregiving
  • … and more!

How To Use Teladoc®
To utilize the benefit, begin by registering your Teladoc® account. There are three ways to register:

  1. Online:
  2. Mobile App:
  3. Phone: (855) Teladoc (835-2362)

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.

Town Hall

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.

Please join us for a Town Hall event on:

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

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