Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)
Posted March 5, 2020
Updated April 9, 2020
Information and Resources for AlaskaCare Members
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention↗
- Alaska Department of Health and Social Services↗
- COVID-19 Health Alerts and Mandates for Alaska↗
- CDC Coronavirus Self Checker↗
- We Are All in This Together
- Resources for Coping with COVID-19 Fears
- Take Everyday Precautions
- Member Cost Share Waived for In-Patient Hospital Services for COVID-19
- Expanded Coverage of Telemedicine; Member Cost Share Waived
- Suspension of Disenrollment
- Coverage at Temporary COVID-19 Facilities
- Streamlining Administration
- Medication Preparation
- Teladoc for Employees and Retirees
- Diagnostic Testing
- Influenza Vaccine (flu shots) Coverage for Retirees
- Pneumococcal Vaccine Coverage for Retirees
- Crisis Response Line
- Maintenance Medications that Require Preauthorization
What AlaskaCare is Doing for You
In response to the national public health emergency associated with the COVID-19 disease outbreak, the Commissioner of the State of Alaska Department of Administration directed the Division of Retirement and Benefits to implement the following temporary changes:
- Waiving Cost Share for Inpatient Hospital Services: If you need inpatient treatment for COVID-19, AlaskaCare is here to help.
Effective March 25, 2020, the AlaskaCare employee and retiree health plans are temporarily waiving applicable cost sharing provisions including deductible, coinsurance, and co-pays up to recognized charge for inpatient admissions and medically necessary transportation for both in-network and out-of-network charges related to COVID-19 and related diagnoses.
- Expanded Coverage of Telemedicine: AlaskaCare is making it easier for you to connect with your regular health care providers remotely during the COVID-19 public health emergency and will also cover the cost of eligible telemedicine visits.
Retroactively effective March 4, 2020, the AlaskaCare employee and retiree health plans are temporarily expanding coverage of telemedicine services delivered by your regular providers in alignment with coverage updated by Medicare. While AlaskaCare already covered many telemedicine services, we’ve expanded the list of covered telehealth benefits to include services associated with:
- Emergency department visits
- Initial hospital care and discharge management
- Critical care services
- Home visits
- Neonatal and pediatric care
- Initial and continuing intensive care services
- Physical and occupational therapy services
- Clinical psychologist, clinical social worker, and speech language pathology services
For more information about the complete list of covered telehealth benefits, please review the AlaskaCare Health Plan Temporary Telemedicine Liberalization, or if you or your provider are unsure which telehealth services are eligible for coverage, please contact Aetna at (855) 784-8646 for more information.
AlaskaCare will also temporarily waive your share of the cost, including deductible, coinsurance, and co-pays up to recognized charge for eligible telemedicine services provided by network and non-network providers in accordance with Aetna’s payment policies.
Don’t forget, you also have access to Teladoc!
Teladoc doctors are available for general medical consultations 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Teledoc doctors can evaluate your risk for COVID-19 and help with next steps when necessary. Teladoc can also fulfill other health care needs unrelated to COVID-19 and is a convenient and affordable way to receive care whenever you need it from wherever you are within the United States.
- Suspension of Disenrollment: Worried about paying your premiums? We’ll work with you to help you keep your healthcare coverage. Effective April 1, 2020, AlaskaCare temporarily is suspending disenrollment from AlaskaCare health plan coverage for members on Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave, military leave, continuing their coverage under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA), or paying health benefit premiums through Direct Bill, who fail to self-pay health benefit premiums timely. If you find yourself in this situation, you can keep your coverage and the Division will work with you to set up a payment plan.
- Coverage at Temporary COVID-19 Facilities: If you need care from a temporary facility or alternate healthcare location, you’ll be covered. The AlaskaCare employee and retiree health plans will pay claims for covered services when members are billed for services located at, sponsored by, or facilitated by the local, state, or federal government during this pandemic until such alternate sites are closed.
- Streamlining Administration: AlaskaCare is working with Aetna to temporarily ease administrative requirements during the COVID-19 public health emergency. This includes:
- Extending the duration of existing medical precertifications for services from 6 months to 9 months;
- Suspending management tools for inpatient care, including precertification, retrospective review, and other requirements; and
- Working with Aetna to increase claims turnaround times to facilitate faster payments to providers.
- Medication Preparation: Effective Tuesday, March 3, 2020, the AlaskaCare employee and retiree plans lifted restrictions on early medication refills. Members may obtain an additional 90-day supply of valid prescriptions. This does not apply to opioid medications.
- Teladoc for Employees and Retirees: Effective March 9, 2020, AlaskaCare retiree health plan members will have temporary access to Teladoc general medical services with a $0 copay. This service is already available to AlaskaCare employee health plan members. Teladoc doctors are available for general medical consultations 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Teledoc doctors can evaluate your risk for COVID-19 and help with next steps when necessary.
- Diagnostic Testing: Effective March 9, 2020, the AlaskaCare employee and retiree health plans are waiving member cost share (e.g. deductible, co-insurance) for laboratory tests ordered to diagnose and treat COVID-19 including: respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), influenza A & B, viral respiratory panel, and COVID-19 testing. To qualify for waived deductible and co-insurance, laboratory tests must be deemed medically necessary under the terms of the plan and they must be FDA-approved. The co-insurance and deductible are also waived for the office visit if the primary diagnosis code for the visit is COVID-19 or any of the above diagnostic tests are billed with the office visit.
REMINDER: The AlaskaCare plan will only cover FDA-approved tests. FDA-approval is changing rapidly and some entities are marketing non-FDA approved tests. Don’t get caught off guard! Ask your healthcare provider or call Aetna at (855) 784-8646 to ensure the test you receive is FDA approved.
- Influenza Vaccine (flu shots) Coverage for Retirees: Effective March 9, 2020 the AlaskaCare retiree plans will cover Trivalent and Quadrivalent influenza vaccines received at an in-network pharmacy. If a retiree plan member receives an influenza vaccine from an out-of-network pharmacy the AlaskaCare retiree plans will cover the cost up to the recognized charge; the member will be responsible for paying the total amount of the prescription at the time of purchase and must submit a paper claim for reimbursement. If a retiree plan member receives an influenza vaccine from a healthcare provider, the standard deductible and coinsurance will apply for the vaccine and the office visit. Reimbursement for members that obtain services from an out of network provider may result in balance billing if the provider charges above the recognized charge.
- Pneumococcal Vaccine Coverage for Retirees Effective March 9, 2020 the AlaskaCare Retiree Plan will cover pneumococcal vaccines consistent with the guidelines published by the CDC. The pneumococcal vaccine will be covered at 100% if administered at an in-network pharmacy. If a retiree plan member receives a pneumococcal vaccine from an out-of-network pharmacy the AlaskaCare retiree plans will cover the cost up to the recognized charge; the member will be responsible for paying the total amount of the prescription at the time of purchase and must submit a paper claim for reimbursement. If a retiree plan member receives an influenza vaccine from a healthcare provider, the standard deductible and coinsurance will apply for the vaccine and the office visit. Reimbursement for members that obtain services from an out of network provider may result in balance billing if the provider charges above the recognized charge. Whenever possible, to avoid exposure to sick patients and minimize the strain on the medical system, pneumonia vaccines should be obtained at a network pharmacy.
- Crisis Response Line: We know that the uncertainty around COVID-19 may cause stress and anxiety. If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health crisis, please know that help is available. Aetna is providing support for AlaskaCare employee and retiree health plan members through the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) during the COVID-19 public health event. EAP staff is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. To speak with a counselor contact AlaskaCare EAP at (855) 417-2493. You can also contact Alaska’s suicide prevention and someone-to-talk to line at (877) 266-help or text 4help to 839863.
- Maintenance Medications that Require Preauthorization: Maintenance medications that require prior authorization, set to expire between March 17 and May 1, 2020 will automatically be extended by 90 days. This measure is to help ease the burden on an already stressed provider network. Opioids or medications that are dosed for a finite duration will follow the normal process for renewals. Prior authorization requirements for medications that are newly prescribed will remain in place.
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.
We Are All in This Together
What happens in the next few weeks depends on what each of us does today. Everyone can play their part in slowing the spread of COVID-19, protecting our most vulnerable Alaskans, and making sure our health systems can handle this pandemic. What we do to practice social distancing now will save people’s lives.
Resources for Coping with COVID-19 Fears
The outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) may be stressful for people. Fear and anxiety about a disease can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions in adults and children. If you or a family member are struggling, please don’t wait to reach out. You have resources, and we are here to help.
The AlaskaCare Employee Assistance Program Crisis Response Line is also available to retirees. We know that the uncertainty around COVID-19 may cause stress and anxiety. If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health crisis, please know that help is available. Aetna is providing support for AlaskaCare employee and retiree health plan members through the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) during the COVID-19 public health event.
EAP staff are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. To speak with a counselor contact AlaskaCare EAP at (855) 417-2493. This service provides assessment, treatment and referral services, and covers up to eight counseling sessions per problem per year at no cost to you. You can also contact Alaska’s suicide prevention and someone-to-talk to line at (877) 266-help or text 4help to 839863.
Aetna is offering webinars to help you navigate these challenging times.
- Staying CALM to Cope
- Challenges for Parents
- Ways to Stay Connected
- Ways to Relieve Stress
For more information and to sign up, click here.
Take Everyday Precautions
Avoid close contact with people who are sick. Take everyday preventive actions:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing, or having been in a public place.
- If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
- To the extent possible, avoid touching high-touch surfaces in public places—elevator buttons, door handles, handrails, handshaking with people, etc. Use a tissue or your sleeve to cover your hand or finger if you must touch something.
- Wash your hands after touching surfaces in public places.
- Avoid touching your face, nose, eyes, etc.
- Clean and disinfect your home to remove germs: practice routine cleaning of frequently touched surfaces (for example: tables, doorknobs, light switches, handles, desks, toilets, faucets, sinks & cell phones)
- Avoid crowds, especially in poorly ventilated spaces. Your risk of exposure to respiratory viruses like COVID-19 may increase in crowded, closed-in settings with little air circulation if there are people in the crowd who are sick.
- Avoid all non-essential travel
- Stay informed—keep up to date with the latest guidance from federal, state, and local health organizations.