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

Having trouble viewing this email? View it as a Web page.

Link to Facebook  Connect with us on Twitter  Email us

AlaskaCare Retiree Health News

AKCare Banner

Volume 41| October 2021

Open Enrollment for the AlaskaCare Retiree Dental-Vision-Audio Plans

Is Open and Runs Through November 24, 2021

Open Enrollment for the AlaskaCare Retiree Dental-Vision-Audio Plans is open and runs through November 24, 2021 This is your annual opportunity to review your Dental-Vision-Audio (DVA) coverage options and make benefit elections for you and your family for the next plan year, which begins on January 1, 2022. This does not apply to or impact your medical benefits.

If you do not participate in DVA Open Enrollment, your benefit elections will not change from what you have now. You can make changes to your benefit elections online at during the Open Enrollment period, now through November 24, 2021.

The plan options and monthly premiums are the same as they were last year. You can review the 2022 Benefit Comparison Guide and 2022 Enrollment Guide containing monthly premium information and coverage comparisons online:

If you are not a current Retiree DVA plan member, you are not eligible to participate in Open Enrollment.

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. Contact the AlaskaCare Member Services Center. You can reach us toll-free at (800) 821-2251 or in Juneau at (907) 465-4460 or at

Public Comment Period—Plan Booklet

The Department of Administration, Division of Retirement and Benefits, proposes to adopt changes to the AlaskaCare Defined Benefit Retiree Health Plan Information Booklet, effective for the 2022 plan year to reflect the addition of Preventive Coverage and Specialty Medication Prior Authorization.

We want to hear from you!

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

Public comments will be accepted through 4:30 p.m. AKDT on November 19, 2021.

A copy of the proposed plan booklet will be available on the Division of Retirement and Benefits webpage. A public teleconference to answer questions about the proposed changes will be held on October 29, 2021, at 1 p.m. Alaska time.

  • Teleconference # (855) 244-8681
  • Meeting # 2451 840 3138
  • ID # 932 58 778

Get the Facts: Prior Authorization for Specialty Drugs

In addition to adding coverage for preventive care services on January 1, 2022, the plan will also add prior authorizations for specialty medications. We know you may have some questions about the prior authorization process, and we want you to get the facts straight from us.

What is prior authorization? Prior authorization is a pre-approval process that checks to make sure drugs are being used safely and effectively. Before you fill your specialty medication, the prior authorization process will verify your drug is medically necessary, appropriately prescribed, and meets clinical, evidence-based standards including those established by the FDA to promote safe and effective use of those medications.

What are specialty medications? Specialty Medications are prescribed to treat chronic, complex, or rare conditions such as cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, and hepatitis C, and can have severe side effects if taken incorrectly. Only about 1% of prescriptions filled under the plan are specialty medications.

How do I know if I’m taking a specialty medication? You can review the OptumRx Specialty Pharmacy Drug List to see if any of your current medications are specialty drugs that may require a prior authorization starting January 1, 2022. Please note this list may change over time and may be updated prior to January 1, 2022.

If I’m taking specialty medication that requires prior authorization, what should I do next? If your specialty drug requires prior authorization, you will receive a notification letter at the beginning of November advising the medication requires prior authorization review. Prior authorization is common in health plans and physicians are already familiar with the process. Providers may submit prior authorization requests electronically, over the phone, or by mail.

Is my prescription drug coverage changing? No, your prescription drug coverage is not changing. The plan will continue to cover medically necessary and clinically appropriate prescription drugs. There is no change to member copayments which will remain $8 for brand medications, $4 for generic medications, and $0 for medications filled through mail order.

Have more questions? We’re here to help.

EGWP Enrollees: 2021 IRMAA Submission Reminder

Certain high-income retirees who are Medicare-eligible and enrolled in the AlaskaCare enhanced Employer Group Waiver Program (EGWP) pharmacy plan are required to pay a premium surcharge associated with Medicare Part D plans, known as an Income Related Monthly Adjustment Amount, or IRMAA. This is required by Medicare and is the same type of surcharge that high-income enrollees already pay for a Medicare Part B plan.

If you are an individual who earned more than $87,000 or a married couple who earned more than $174,000 in 2019, you will be required to pay the IRMAA for 2021. Retirees enrolled in EGWP whose household income was below this threshold will not be subject to the IRMAA premium surcharge. If you are required to pay the IRMAA premium surcharge, the Division will reimburse you for the amount you are charged each month for the Part D IRMAA premium surcharge through a tax-advantaged health reimbursement arrangement (HRA) account, so the EGWP plan has no additional cost to you!

For steps on completing your 2021 IRMAA reimbursement, please visit our IRMAA webpage or contact OptumRx at 855-409-6999.

The deadline to receive reimbursement for the 2021 Part D IRMAA is December 31, 2022.

Every year in November, Social Security sends a letter outlining what the next year's IRMAA premium surcharges are, if applicable to you. Once you receive your letter from Social Security or a bill from Medicare for your 2022 Part D IRMAA premium surcharge, you may complete the same steps listed on our IRMAA webpage to begin the reimbursement process for 2022.

Get Ready for Flu Season

During the 2021-2022 cold and flu season, getting a flu vaccine is important to protect yourself, your loved ones, and your community from the flu.

Everyone needs to do their part to prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses, like flu and COVID-19. What will happen this fall and winter is uncertain, but it is likely that there will be COVID-19 and seasonal flu activity. The best way to prevent seasonal flu is to get vaccinated every year.

Does the AlaskaCare Retiree Plan cover flu shots?

Yes, through December 30, 2021, the AlaskaCare retiree plan is temporarily covering Trivalent and Quadrivalent influenza vaccines along with the pneumococcal (pneumonia) vaccine. Effective January 1, 2022, the flu shot will be covered permanently by the health plan through the addition of preventive care services.

  • If you get your flu or pneumonia vaccine at a network pharmacy, AlaskaCare will cover 100% of the cost. Call OptumRx at (855) 409-6999 if you need help locating a network pharmacy.
  • If you get your flu or pneumonia vaccine at an out-of-network pharmacy, you will need to pay for the vaccine upfront and submit a claim to OptumRx to be reimbursed for the cost, up to the recognized charge.
  • If you get your flu or pneumonia vaccine at your doctor’s office, the standard deductible and coinsurance will apply.

Permanent coverage for flu and pneumonia shots is part of the addition of preventive care coverage to the retiree health plan and will go into effect on January 1, 2022.  

Free Drive-Thru Flu Shots offered by Alaska Regional Hospital

  • When: Tuesday, October 26 | Thursday, October 28
  • Where: Alaska Regional Hospital Bldg. C Parking Lot Anchorage, AK 99508
  • How: In vehicles, please, no walk-ups. Everyone in the vehicle must be masked.
  • Who: Participants 9 years and older.

Annual vaccination is the best way to protect yourself, your family, and people vulnerable to serious flu illness (older adults, children under 4 years, pregnant women, and people with chronic health conditions).

  • The flu vaccine may make your illness milder if you do get sick.
  • Flu vaccination can reduce the risk of more serious flu outcomes, like hospitalizations.

Vaccine Information:

  • Quadrivalent (designed to protect against two influenza A and two influenza B viruses).
  • No latex or thimerosal.
  • The “High dose” flu vaccine will not be available at this event.
  • The flu vaccine has been updated for the 2021-2022 season.
  • It takes approximately 2 weeks to build up immunity after getting a flu shot. You cannot get the flu from this vaccine, and it does not protect you against COVID-19

WA Cares Fund—Long Term Care for Washington residents

Beginning January 2022, Washington workers will pay up to $0.58 per $100 of earnings to the WA Cares Fund. The WA Cares Fund is a new fund to which Washington residents contribute while working, and through which can access long-term care benefits.

To qualify for benefits from the WA Cares Fund, you must have worked and contributed to the fund for:

  • At least ten years at any point in your life without a break of five or more years within those ten years, or
  • Three of the last six years at the time you apply for the benefit, and
  • At least 500 hours per year during those years.

People who have a need for long-term services and supports may begin applying for benefits in January 2025. Each person who is eligible to receive the benefit can access services and supports costing up to $36,500. To qualify for benefits, you must have met the WA Cares contribution requirements by the time you apply. You must also need help with activities of daily living. You must be at least 18 years old and a current resident of Washington to receive long-term care benefits.

For more information on WA Cares Fund premiums, see RCW 50B.04.080 and RCW 50B.04.085.

Future AlaskaCare Town Hall Events

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:


For help finding a COVID-19 vaccine provider or making an appointment, you may choose to:

  • Call the COVID helpline at (907) 646-3322 for assistance.
    • Hours: Mon - Fri, 9 a.m. - 6:30 p.m., and 9 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. Sat - Sun.

  • Email:

  • The statewide toll-free number for the Aging & Disability Resource Centers has been updated to include an option to select for help scheduling a COVID-19 vaccine. Currently, four full-time ADRC staff are available to help seniors. If you need assistance, call and leave a message.
    • (855) 565-2017, option #1.
    • Hours: 8 a.m. - 6 p.m.

Check with your local public health office, primary care provider, or local health authorities for more information.

We Value Your Feedback!


As a State of Alaska retiree, 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 plans 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:

Physical Address:

State Office Building
6th Floor
333 Willoughby Avenue
Juneau, AK 99801 

Mailing Address:

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