Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)
Posted March 5, 2020
Updated June 18, 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↗
- COVID-19 Traveler Information↗ and Traveler Health Tips (DHSS)↗
- Take Everyday Precautions
- COVID-19 Testing
- Waiving Cost Share for Inpatient Hospital Services
- Expanded Coverage of Telemedicine
- Teladoc for Employees and Retirees
- Suspension of Disenrollment
- Medication Preparation
- Influenza Vaccine (flu shots)
- Pneumococcal Vaccine
- Crisis Response Line
- Previous Actions
What AlaskaCare 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. Please note, these temporary changes are the result of Federal and State health mandates, suspension orders, and other guidance. The Division's compliance with these various requirements is temporary in nature and does not create a vested benefit in relation to these changes. All temporary administrative changes will be automatically rescinded upon the expiration of relevant enabling documents.
The Division will continue to monitor events and will make additional changes as necessary. Please visit this page for up-to-date information on temporary plan changes in response to COVID-19.
- COVID-19 Testing: Effective March 9, 2020 through the end of the public health disaster or as mandated by the Federal CARES Act, 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. 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 the diagnostic tests are billed with the office visit.
- Waiving Cost Share for Inpatient Hospital Services: If you need inpatient treatment for COVID-19, AlaskaCare is here to help with the cost. Effective March 25, 2020 through August 31, 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 in-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. Effective March 4, 2020, through September 2, 2020 or to the end of the public health disaster, whichever is sooner, the AlaskaCare employee and retiree health plans are temporarily expanding coverage of telemedicine services delivered by your regular providers in alignment with coverage temporarily expanded by Medicare. If you or your provider are unsure which telehealth services are eligible for coverage, please contact Aetna at (855) 784-8646 for more information.
- Teladoc for Employees and Retirees: Effective March 10, 2020 through the end of the public health disaster, 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. 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. Using telemedicine can help you and your family members avoid unnecessary contact.
- Suspension of Disenrollment: Worried about paying your premiums? We will work with you to help you keep your healthcare coverage.
- Effective March 26, 2020 through June 1, 2020, AlaskaCare is temporarily suspending disenrollment from AlaskaCare health plan coverage for members on FMLA or Military Leave or who pay health benefit premiums through Direct Bill, who fail to pay health benefit premiums timely.
- Effective April 1, 2020 in accordance with federal guidelines, AlaskaCare is temporarily suspending disenrollment for members continuing their coverage under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) who fail to pay health benefit COBRA premiums timely. Please contact the Division to learn about your options. All missed premium payments are due in full 60 days following the termination of the national public health emergency per IRS regulations
- Medication Preparation: Effective March 3, 2020, through June 2, 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. Effective July 3, 2020 members requiring additional early medication refills due to reasons associated with the COVID-19 health emergency should ask their pharmacist contact OptumRx.
- Influenza Vaccine (flu shots): Effective March 6, 2020 through the end of the public health disaster, the AlaskaCare retiree plans will temporarily cover Trivalent and Quadrivalent influenza vaccines received at a 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 costs 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 (pneumonia shots): Effective March 13, 2020 through the end of the public health disaster, the AlaskaCare Retiree Plan will temporarily cover pneumococcal vaccines consistent with the guidelines published by the Centers for Disease Control (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 a pneumococcal 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.
- 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.
- Previous Actions:
- March 26, 2020 through June 1, 2020 AlaskaCare temporarily suspended disenrollment from AlaskaCare health plan coverage for members on FMLA or Military Leave or who pay health benefit premiums through Direct Bill, who fail to pay health benefit premiums timely.
- March 25, 2020 through June 1, 2020 AlaskaCare temporarily waived cost share for inpatient services at out-of-network hospitals.
- March 29, 2020 through June 1, 2020 AlaskaCare temporarily suspended management tools for inpatient care including precertification, retrospective review and other requirements.
- March 9, 2020 through June 1, 2020 AlaskaCare temporarily waived cost share for non-COVID-19 testing, including respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and influenza A & B tests.
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.
Take Everyday Precautions
Take everyday preventive actions to avoid the spread of COVID-19 and other diseases:
- Wear a cloth face covering in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies), especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.
- 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.
- Stay informed—keep up to date with the latest guidance from federal, state, and local health organizations.