RETIREES BEING GIVEN ACCESS TO TELEMEDICINE
The Alaska Division of Retirement and Benefits is taking proactive steps to try to keep retirees in the State’s AlaskaCare health insurance plan from getting sick. The changes announced today come in response to what the division referred to as a “national public health emergency” due to the COVID-19 virus.
There are about 60,000 retired beneficiaries in the AlaskaCare plan; that include retirees, their spouses, and in some cases their dependents.
The division lifted restrictions on early medication refills for certain prescriptions.
The new policy, valid through the end of March, allows members using the State of Alaska retiree prescription plan OptumRx to refill medications earlier than they typically would “to ensure an adequate supply in the event of unforeseen circumstances.”
The policy does not apply to opioid medications, but does allow retirees to stock up on most of other medications, to assist those who are planning to self-isolate and minimize public contact over coming weeks.
“We are actively working to support health and safety by making early refills or replacements of lost or damaged medications readily available without any additional administrative burden or additional cost. AlaskaCare will be optimizing member benefit flexibility while the potential risk for exposure to the novel coronavirus remains a public health concern,” according to the plan’s home page.
Members may call their pharmacy and request they transfer prescriptions from the pharmacy to OptumRx Home Delivery. To start home delivery, log in to OptumRx.com, use the OptumRx app, or call (855) 409-6999.
Members may also call OptumRx at (855) 409-6999 and request home delivery prescriptions be transferred to their local pharmacy.
Also, effective March 9, AlaskaCare retiree plan members will have access to a Teladoc service with $0 copay.
This telemedicine service is already available to AlaskaCare current employees, and is being expanded to help former employees of the State of Alaska get access to a doctor without causing strain on what is expected to be a burdened medical system. Additionally, it will help retirees who need more routine care get help they need without going to doctors’ offices or clinics, where they might come in contact with someone with the virus.
“A benefit of Teladoc is the ability to fulfill other health care needs that are unrelated to the coronavirus without an appointment or waiting. Using telemedicine can reduce the strain on the local medical system and helps you and your family members avoid unnecessary contact,” the division wrote.
The AlaskaCare retiree plan will also waive the member deductible and coinsurance for respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), influenza, respiratory panel, and COVID-19 testing that is deemed medically necessary under the terms of the plan. This will be effective as soon as administratively possible, anticipating the week of March 9, 2020, according to the division.
Starting on March 9, 2020, the AlaskaCare retiree health plan temporarily will cover the influenza vaccine received at a pharmacy or other health care provider. Influenza vaccines are already available to AlaskaCare employee plan members.
The changes will be in effect until the national public health emergency is terminated by the Secretary of Health and Human Services or until 90 days, which ever comes first.
Additional information is available at: AlaskaCare.gov.
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