Nov. 3, 2011

Provider websites: Quick access to information -- lots of it

by Paula Van Brocklin

Taking charge of your health and retirement benefits has never been easier, now that most providers offer robust websites that give you access to your personal data and other helpful information with the click of a button.

Here's a sampling of the information available at your fingertips from Wellmark/Blue Cross Blue Shield, TIAA-CREF, Delta Dental, Avesis (vision) and Medco (prescription drugs). Once you register on any or all of the websites, take time to browse the various links; you may be surprised at how much information you can find.

Wellmark/Blue Cross Blue Shield

To access your personal information, you must register online. Look for the "Register Now" heading on the right side of the home page. Select "Member" and follow the instructions. During registration setup, you can choose to receive your explanation of benefits (EOB) forms electronically instead of having them mailed to you. If you choose the online option, you will receive an email when the latest forms are ready to view.

Wellmark lets employees create and customize their own personal health site. Through this site, you can access your benefits, claims and the latest health news. Some of the more unique options available include printing your own medical alert card, logging how much you exercise on the Activity Tracker (it will even generate a bar graph) and creating a claims summary to see how much you've spent on out-of-pocket health care expenses. The website even will create a report that shows how much you and your covered dependents have spent on health care during the dates you specify.


To register with TIAA-CREF, click the "Register for online access" link in the login box at the top of the home page and follow the instructions. Once you've registered and logged in, the website automatically takes you to your personal home page, which shows your current total retirement savings balance.

Under the "Manage Your Portfolio" tab, you can view your account information, manage your funds (i.e., switch funds or change contribution amounts) and update your profile, such as change your beneficiaries, modify your bank transaction information or review your password, security question and phone numbers.

The "Help and Resources" tab lets you access planning tools and calculators to gauge if you're saving enough for retirement. And the Learning Center option helps you create a financial action plan.

Delta Dental

To register with Delta Dental, click on "New users register here" in the green box on the left side of the home page and select "Subscriber" in the drop-down menu. Follow the website's prompts to complete the registration. At the beginning of the process, you will need to submit your "subscription ID" number -- this is your Social Security number, not the number that appears on your Delta Dental card. At this time, Delta Dental allows only covered employees to register online, not dependents.

Delta Dental gives you the option of receiving your explanation of benefits forms electronically. You also can access coverage for you and your dependents and download claim forms. The Delta Dental Risk Assessment Tool (click the "Oral Health" link under the "Subscribers" button from the home page) helps you take better care of your dental health by providing custom feedback based on your responses to certain questions.

Another benefit Delta Dental offers subscribers is a vision care discount through EyeMed Vision Care. It includes discounts on eye exams, contact lenses, eyeglasses, and LASIK and PRK (photorefractive keratectomy) procedures. There is no additional cost for this benefit, but it cannot be used with Avesis vision care.


Select the "Visions Programs" tab and click the "Members" link on the left side of the home page. Avesis does not require you to register to gain access to most of its general information, such as claim forms, FAQs or a vision glossary. But if you wish to access your personal information, you'll need to enter your Social Security number and your last name in the login box on the left side of the page. From there, you can review benefit summaries and the current eligibility dates for you and your covered dependents. You also can search for local providers and print an ID card.


Only faculty, professional and scientific, and supervisory merit employees have Medco prescription coverage. To register, select the "Click here to register" link under the login box on the home page. Follow the prompts. After you've registered, you can sign up to have prescriptions mailed to you. If you choose to receive a 90-day supply of the generic version of those prescriptions, there is no cost to you.

Medco offers a service called Safety Net, which monitors your prescriptions and lets you know if there are any risks associated with your prescription use. Once you register for this service, you will receive an alert when you log into Medco if there is a possible drug interaction problem or medication-related gap that could put your health at risk. To register for Safety Net, you must provide your prescription drug ID card number and a recent prescription number. Any covered dependents ages 18 and older must register separately to receive alerts. For those with iPhone, BlackBerry and Android smartphones, Medco offers a free app (Medco Pharmacy) that provides many services on the go, including drug safety alerts, refill reminders and access to your prescription card details.

Lost your Medco card? Not a problem; you can print a new one. The website also provides information on how to save additional money on prescriptions as well as articles on various health care topics.

The Medco Health Store is an online pharmacy where you can purchase everything from vitamins to bandages to shampoo. Standard shipping on all orders is 99 cents. An online coupon offers $10 off your first order of $40 or more; enter the special code (shown on the coupon) at check-out.