News & Announcements

COVID-19 Update

Please see below and visit the links for the latest policy updates, guidance, and FAQs regarding COVID-19:

  • CDC Guideline for COVID-19
  • RI.Gov Press Releases
    • 3/14/20 – New Insurance Initiatives Announced as Part of COVID-19 Response
  • Rhode Island Department of Health – State-specific updates
  • Division of Human Resources – COVID-19 related state employment policies and press releases
  • NEW Referral Requirement Reinstated
    • In response to the COVID-19 public health emergency, the requirement to get a referral before seeing a specialist was temporarily waived. This was done to help reduce the volume of non-urgent calls to primary care providers (PCPs) at the height of the COVID-19 crisis. Today, most PCP offices are prepared to see patients in person and manage referral requests. Therefore, effective September 1, 2020, covered employees will need a referral in order to see a specialist for the lowest applicable copay or coinsurance. This means:
      • With a referral, you will pay a lower copay ($25) under the Anchor and Anchor Plus health plans or pay a lower coinsurance (10%) after deductible under the Anchor Choice Plan with HSA.
      • Without a referral, you will pay a higher copay ($50) under the Anchor and Anchor Plus health plans or pay a higher coinsurance (30%) after deductible under the Anchor Choice with HSA health plan. However, you will not be denied care for covered services.
    • Please contact your primary care provider (PCP) about any referrals to specialists that you may need.
  • NEW No fees for COVID-19 treatments
    • The State is waiving member cost-sharing (copay, deductible, and/or coinsurance) for all medically necessary in-network treatment for COVID-19, including emergency services, inpatient services, and professional services. This waiver applies to employees and their dependents covered under the State’s Anchor medical plans. This change is effective at least through the state of emergency, but may be extended as determined to be necessary.
  • Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island (BCBSRI)
    • BCBSRI - the State’s medical plan administrator – has taken the following steps to enhance access to care during this time of heightened concern:
    • No fees for COVID-19 testing – If your doctor believes you need to be tested for COVID-19 and you meet the testing guidelines set by the CDC, there is no preauthorization required, and BCBSRI will cover the cost of the test. You will not need to pay any copays, deductibles, or coinsurance for COVID-19 testing. For all other covered benefits, your plan's copay, deductible, and/or coinsurance will apply.
    • No fees for calling your PCP for triage – BCBSRI has temporarily eliminated member cost sharing (copay, deductible, and/or coinsurance) for telemedicine or telephone triage services with primary care. Instead of visiting in person, you are encouraged to seek treatment with your PCP over the phone, and you can do so with the peace of mind that you won’t be charged for calling.”
    • Coverage for audio-visual and telephone calls with in-network specialist providers – BCBSRI is extending coverage to phone and audio/visual calls to in-network specialist providers for medically necessary and clinically appropriate care. BCBSRI is waiving member cost sharing (copay, deductible, and/or coinsurance) for these calls.
    • No fee triage calls with in-network behavioral health providers – BCBSRI is extending coverage for triage calls with in-network behavioral health providers to all State Anchor plan participants with no member cost sharing (copay, deductible, and/or coinsurance). Alternatively, you may utilize the State’s Employee Assistance Program, which offers FREE mental health assistance to all State employees and family members.
    • Doctors Online – For other common, non-emergency medical conditions, such as allergies and sinus pain, you can take advantage of Doctors Online, a telemedicine service offered by BCBSRI as part of your State health coverage. Doctors Online lets you see and talk to a board-certified doctor from your mobile device or computer without an appointment, 24/7, and most visits take about 10-15 minutes. BCBSRI is waiving member cost sharing (copay, deductible, and/or coinsurance) for this service.
    • The coverage of the above BCBSRI services will remain in effect through the state of emergency.
  • CVS Caremark
    • Relaxing refill restrictions – CVS Caremark is waiving early refill limits on 30-day prescriptions for maintenance medications at any in-network pharmacy to ensure you are able to maintain an adequate supply of medication on hand. CVS Caremark will allow a one-time 14 day override of a medication (other than controlled substances) for members that are sick/unable to get to their doctor’s to obtain an updated prescription.
    • Free home delivery from CVS Pharmacy – Beginning immediately, CVS Pharmacy will waive charges for home delivery of all prescription medications. With the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention encouraging people at higher risk for COVID-19 complications to stay at home as much as possible, this is a convenient option to avoid coming to the pharmacy for refills or new prescriptions.
    • Get 90-day supplies delivered by mail – You can have your prescriptions delivered to your home or wherever you need them by CVS Caremark Mail Service Pharmacy in 90-day supplies at no extra cost. To get started for you or a family member, you can choose one of the following options:
      • OPTION 1: Ask your doctor to send an electronic prescription (eRx) to CVS Caremark Mail Service Pharmacy. It needs to be a prescription for a 90-day supply of your maintenance medication.
      • OPTION 2: Sign in or register at Select “Prescriptions” from the navigation bar. From the drop-down menu, select “Request a New Prescription”. Search for your drug name and strength, add to your cart by selecting “Request a New Prescription”, and complete your order.
      • OPTION 3, FOR URGENT REQUESTS ONLY: If you can’t contact your doctor and you’re not able to register at, CVS Caremark can contact your doctor for you. To start this process, complete the Start Mail Service request form.
    • Not using CVS Pharmacy? Check your local pharmacy – Many retail pharmacies are offering home delivery service. If you are NOT filling your prescriptions with CVS Caremark, check with your local pharmacy to find out if they offer home delivery and whether there are delivery fees.
  • Your Dental Care During COVID-19
    • During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Rhode Island Department of Health has asked dental offices to see patients only for dental emergencies. If you have a dental emergency during this time, you should contact your regular dentist for guidance. Your dentist may talk with you over the phone and triage your dental emergency using photos, videos or live chat (known as a teledentistry exam). Delta Dental of Rhode Island has issued an Emergency Teledentistry Policy (effective until May 8, 2020), meaning your dental benefits will cover this type of exam during this crisis (your dentist must submit the appropriate documentation to Delta Dental as outlined in the Emergency Teledentistry Policy). If you have questions about your dental benefits, contact Delta Dental of Rhode Island at 401-752-6100 or visit
  • 2020 Wellness Fairs postponed
    • In light of heightened concern about COVID-19, the State has decided to postpone the 2020 Wellness Fairs. The Office of Employee Benefits will announce new dates for the fairs via email notification and on the Wellness Fairs page as soon as possible.
  • Employee Assistance Program (EAP)
    • Visit for the latest COVID-19 support resources from the EAP provider Optum, including educational flyers and new webinars that help you cope with the stress and anxiety surrounding COVID-19.
    • The Optum Public Crisis Hotline (866-342-6892) is free and open to anyone seeking emotional support during this difficult time.
    • See the latest Monthly EAP Newsletter for ways to reduce stress during uncertain times. For tips on maintaining your well-being while working remotely – from setting up an ergonomic workspace to keeping the camaraderie alive with your friends and colleagues – checkout the Optum Remote Well-Being Toolkits: Toolkit 1, Toolkit 2.
  • #FlattenTheCurve
    • If you’ve been seeing that Flattening the Curve chart everywhere, but haven’t quite worked up the mental energy to decipher it, this is for you. Watch the video that explains how you can help #FlattenTheCurve by practicing basic preventive measures like washing your hands and avoiding crowds.
  • Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA)
    • Health FSAs - The CARES Act expands and broadens the use of FSAs for certain types of healthcare products and services, including over-the-counter (OTC) items such as cold medicines and feminine care products as qualified medical expenses. Please visit for detailed guidance.
    • Dependent FSA (DFSA) – Due to the COVID-19 public health emergency, State employees may change their DFSA annual election amount by emailing and indicating the reason for the change. When the need to resume DFSA contributions arises, employees may reinstate their previous annual election amount OR elect a lower annual amount that is consistent with their future daycare expense needs (but not lower than their adjusted annual amount elected during COVID-19).
  • Deferred Compensation (457 Plan)
    • The CARES Act allows 457 Plan participants to have access to their savings if they are impacted by COVID-19. Specifically, anyone that satisfies the definition of "qualified individual" may request a COVID-19-related distribution from their 457 Plan. Federal guidance defines "qualified individual" as someone who:
      1. is diagnosed, or whose spouse or dependent is diagnosed, with the virus SARS-CoV-2 or the coronavirus disease 2019 (collectively for purposes of defining "qualified individual," "COVID-19") by a test approved by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (including a test authorized under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act); or
      2. experiences adverse financial consequences as a result of the individual, the individual's spouse, or a member of the individual's household (that is, someone who shares the individual's principal residence):
        • being quarantined, being furloughed or laid off, or having work hours reduced due to COVID-19;
        • being unable to work due to lack of childcare due to COVID-19;
        • closing or reducing hours of a business that they own or operate due to COVID-19;
        • having pay or self-employment income reduced due to COVID-19; or
        • has a job offer rescinded or start date for a job delayed due to COVID-19.
    • If you want to make a distribution request, please contact your 457 Plan provider(s) DIRECTLY. Before you take any action, the State encourages you to schedule a virtual counseling session with your chosen provider(s) to discuss the best way to manage your 457 Plan:
    • * TIAA also administers the State’s defined contribution 401(a) plan. You can discuss this with a TIAA consultant during a phone-based or virtual counseling session.

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