May 1, 2020

Extension of COBRA deadlines due to COVID-19 outbreak

 

Participants and their dependents may encounter problems in their health coverage portability due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Accordingly, timeframes for various Federal notifications, including COBRA, are being extended until 60 days after the end date of the declared National Emergency. Under COBRA, this extends the election periods and premium due dates.

For example, had the National Emergency ended on April 30, COBRA could be elected retroactively for periods beginning March 1 as late as August 28, and payments for March through June could be made as late as July 29 without being considered delinquent.

The U.S. Department of Labor Web site explains this extension in further detail and gives examples of how this extension and others can help.

You can also call the Benefits Fund office for more information at (877) RN BENEFITS [762-3633].

April 27, 2020

COVID-19 financial relief available through the Brave of Heart Fund


Cigna and New York Life, together through their foundations, created the Brave of Heart Fund, designed to provide financial support in the form of charitable relief grants to support the families of healthcare workers who lose their lives to COVID-19. See the message below from Express Scripts for more information and a link to the Brave of Heart Fund.

IMPORTANT NOTE:Express Scripts, the NYSNA Benefits Fund’s prescription drug provider, through its affiliated company Cigna and the New York Life Foundation is sponsoring this program. The NYSNA Pension Plan and Benefits Fund does not administer or endorse it. Your participation in the program is entirely your decision and is completely voluntary on your part. We are bringing this information to your attention because we feel that it is important to share initiatives like this with our participants during this time.

 

ESIChampionsForBetter

Brave of Heart: Honoring the Legacy of Health Care Heroes

 

During a time when most of us have been asked to stay home to help contain the spread of COVID-19, courageous frontline health care workers and volunteers are tirelessly and selflessly putting themselves in harm’s way to help those who desperately need it – risking their lives every day to protect and save ours.

Tragically, some of these heroes will not survive the battle against COVID-19. As a way to honor their legacy and sacrifice, Cigna and the New York Life Foundation have partnered to launch The Brave of Heart Fund (“the Fund”). The Fund will provide financial grants and support to families of frontline health care workers – including doctors, nurses, technicians, orderlies, cafeteria workers, custodians and others – who lose their lives in the fight against COVID-19.

With support from people across the country, the Fund aims to raise $125 million, beginning with initial contributions of $25 million each from Cigna and the New York Life Foundation. The New York Life Foundation will also provide a dollar-for-dollar match on the first $25 million in individual donations received, while Cigna will provide a range of emotional and behavioral health services to aid families’ recovery. You can learn more about the Fund, how it will be administered, and how you can participate by visiting the Brave of Heart Fund.

As an Express Scripts client, you know firsthand that our mission is to improve the health, well-being and peace of mind of those we serve. Extending our support and care to the families of the health care heroes who lost their own lives serving others is the very least we can do to recognize the extraordinary sacrifice they made to keep us safe and well. I hope that you will consider joining us in this effort.

 

 

April 6, 2020

Mental health care support from Oxford and Express Scripts

To help our participants on the frontline of the coronavirus crisis navigate through this unprecedented time, the NYSNA Benefits Fund has expanded your access to a selection of virtual and online mental health care, support, and resources. 

From Oxford

Place a call: Optum’s Emotional-Support Help Line is a free service designed to support our participants and their dependents who may be experiencing anxiety or stress. The support line, (866) 342-6892, is available 24/7. 

Use an app: Learn to manage stress, anxiety, and depression with Sanvello provided through Optum’s Live and Work Well web page. During the COVID-19 crisis, all content, coping tools, and peer support programs are free for Fund participants. Download the Sanvello App or go to the Live and Work Well homepage and click on “Find out more” in the Coronavirus headline. You will then see the link to Sanvello under “Get Support Now.” 

Virtual visits with mental health care professionals: Due to recent changes, many doctors and therapists in our network are allowed to conduct mental health phone or video sessions (virtual visits). Optum’s Live and Work Well site can help you find a local mental health care provider, including a list of those offering virtual visits.

From Express Scripts

Get the support you need to think and feel better with SilverCloud , offered through Express Scripts, a digital mental health platform with programs to help you reduce symptoms of stress, improve your sleep, and build resilience at no cost to you. You can access the programs from anywhere on your desktop, cell phone, or tablet. Visit SilverCloud for more information or to start your mental health program.

 

March 25, 2020

Free access to telehealth for Benefits Fund participants

Due to the continuing COVID-19 crisis, the Benefits Fund understands some of our participants may be hesitant to visit your healthcare provider in an office setting. As a result, effective immediately, NYSNA Benefits Fund participants and their eligible dependents have access to telehealth services through Amwell at no cost to you. Amwell’s telehealth services provide phone or virtual visits with board certified doctors 24 hours a day, seven days a week via telephone, tablet, or personal computer. Services available to our participants include:

  • Urgent care for common conditions such as flu, rashes, and infections;
  • Behavioral health services, including evaluation and treatment;
  • Specialty care, ranging from women’s health, pediatrics, and cardiology.

How to connect

NYSNA Benefits Fund participants can connect to an Amwell provider by taking the following steps (have your United Healthcare Oxford identification card handy as you’ll need your ID number from this card). YOU MUST SIGN UP BY GOING THROUGH THE OXFORD WEB SITE (OXHP.COM). BENEFITS FUND PARTICIPANTS CANNOT ACCESS THIS BENEFIT THROUGH THE AMWELL APP OR WEB SITE:

  1. Login or sign up for a member portal account on Oxford’s Web site at oxhp.com
  2. Once on the home page of the member portal, look for the specially-marked “COVID-19 Updates” box in the center of the screen. Click on the link “To schedule a virtual doctor visit,” which will bring up an Amwell login page.
  3. Participants must sign up for an Amwell account by clicking on the “Sign up for Amwell” link.
  4. Follow the prompts to create an account using your personal e-mail address and establish a password.
  5. When asked for your health plan information, find “United Healthcare Oxford” in the dropdown list. You’ll also need to provide your subscriber identification number found on your Oxford ID card. When asked for a “Service Key,” you may skip this information and move on to the next step.
  6. Press “Finish” to complete the Amwell sign-up process. You’ll know you’ve signed up successfully when you see a welcome screen.

Once you have signed up for an Amwell account, you’ll be able to choose the type of provider you wish to connect with (urgent care, behavioral health, or specialty care) and decide how quickly you want to speak to a provider. You may choose to either visit with the next available provider or search through a list of providers and “wait in line” for a provider of your choice (this option will show you how many other patients are waiting ahead of you).

Choosing the “Urgent Care Visit” option, gives participants the fastest access to a provider. Within this category, there are healthcare providers geared to help in a variety of medical areas including:

  • General medicine;
  • Women's health;
  • Children's medicine;
  • Menopause care; and
  • Pregnancy and post-partum care.

Most visits with an Amwell provider take approximately 10 minutes. The visits are private, secure, and HIPAA-compliant. Amwell’s medical providers may order prescription medications as necessary sent to the pharmacy of your choice (applicable pharmacy copays will apply). These providers are unable to order lab work or other testing but may recommend follow-up with your primary care provider.

 

March 19, 2020

Federal Response Act provides COVID-19 testing and services at no cost to participants

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act has been passed and went into effect on March 18, 2020. This Act affects NYSNA Benefits Fund participants and their families by providing certain mandates for medical coverage related to COVID-19 (coronavirus). This means, effective immediately, Benefits Fund participants and their eligible dependents are not required to pay copayments, deductibles, or coinsurance for:

  • Testing for the diagnosis of COVID-19 or the detection of SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2) as approved by the FDA;
  • Items and services provided during health care provider office visits, urgent care center visits, and emergency room visits only when related to the testing for COVID-19 (this includes temporary walk-up or drive-through testing locations)

These rules will remain in effect until either the national emergency declared by the President or the public health emergency issued by the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is lifted.

 

March 16, 2020

COVID-19 testing for Benefits Fund participants

If you have been exposed and are ordered to be tested for Coronavirus (COVID-19), NYSNA Benefits Fund participants and their eligible dependents are eligible to receive the appropriate diagnostic test at no cost to you.

 

March 16, 2020

Prescription supply reminders

The Benefits Fund strongly encourages our participants to make sure they have an adequate supply of required prescription medications on hand. Keep in mind, a 90-day supply of prescription medication can be refilled after you have used at least 75 percent of the current supply, so there's no need to wait until the last minute. If you fill your prescriptions through the Express Scripts mail order service, the refill date can be found on your prescription bottle label.

You may also find out the status of your prescription refills by going to your member account at www.express-scripts.com.

 

March 16, 2020

Telemedicine visits are covered

 

Please be aware, if telemedicine "visits" are an option from one of your medical providers, these "visits" are covered for NYSNA Benefits Fund participants with their applicable office visit copayment.

 

March 16, 2020

Emotional support services available

Through the Fund's medical benefits with Oxford Health Plans, Optum offers access to an Emotional-Support Help Line to support anyone who may be experiencing anxiety or stress as a result of the recent and ever-changing developments regarding the coronavirus. The free service can be reached by calling (866) 342-6892 24 hours a day, seven days a week. There is also information available on the related Web site located at www.liveandworkwell.com.

 

March 13, 2020

Message from our CEO

Recognizing the ongoing challenges and uncertainty that coronavirus (COVID-19) is causing at home and around the world, the NYSNA Pension Plan & Benefits Fund staff want you to know that our highest priority remains the health and well-being of our participants and your families.

While at the moment, the Plan & Fund office is operating as normal, we have established various contingency plans that will allow our staff to continue providing a high-level of service to our participants in the event those operations are disrupted. If and when that occurs, more information about how to contact us or our benefit partners will be provided on this page and through additional communication methods..

Additionally, the Plan and Fund office staff have taken steps to mitigate the spread of the virus locally, including limiting unnecessary travel, conducting meetings by teleconference, practicing social distancing, providing additional sanitizer dispensers and disinfectant wipes throughout the office, and establishing procedures to encourage employees who feel sick to stay home.

The NYSNA Pension Plan & Benefits Fund understands the important front-line position of our participants during this crisis and we thank you for your dedication. You should be confident that our staff will be here for you during this challenging time.

As always, please call us at (877) RN BENEFITS [762-3633] with any questions or concerns.

For additional information regarding this ongoing situation provided by public health and other government agencies, please consult the following resources:

Ronald F. Lamy
Chief Executive Officer, NYSNA Pension Plan & Benefits Fund

 

March 10, 2020

Communications Representative Suspends On-site Visits

On-site facility visits by Sharron Carlson, our communications representative, are currently on hold for the foreseeable future. Please check back soon for future visit dates. In the meantime, if you have any questions or concerns regarding your pension or healthcare benefits, please call us at (877) RN BENEFITS [762-3633] Monday through Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.