Chartered 1889, Serving the Bronx and Manhattan

Tom Nelson

Health Benefits Representative

Thomas (Tom) was re-elected Director of Health Benefits in 2022. A position he has held since 2007. Tom began his postal and Union career in 1978 and from the beginning he was always willing to volunteer and lend a hand whenever Branch 36 members needed him. He was elected Shop Steward by his fellow carriers and later became a Formal A Representative in 1998. Tom held many elected positions during his tenure. In 2003, Tom was invited to train for the Dispute Resolution Process and was selected to be part of the Step B Dispute Resolution team. Tom continues to keep the letter carriers of Branch 36 well versed on anything that may affect healthcare premiums or coverage. In 2022, Tom was re-elected to the position of Director of Health Benefits and he will continue to keep everyone informed about any changes in healthcare on the horizon.

NALC Health Benefit

Greetings Brothers and Sisters! Hope you are all well and healthy. May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Mental health and physical health go hand in hand, making both important to a good quality of life.
The Covid-19 pandemic increased anxiety and depression in many due to such factors as job loss, loneliness, fear, loss of a loved one and the uncertainty of the future. It had a massive impact and affected people, both mentally and physically. Despite this increase in suffering, many people remained embarrassed to reach out for help and to talk about their feelings. The NALC Health Benefit Plan wants to help change that.
For High Option members, Optum®, a recognized leader in Behavioral Healthcare and Substance Use Services, provides our mental health benefits. With Optum, you have access to more than 285,000 in-network clinicians and 3,300 in-network facilities, in more than 8,800 locations nationwide. When you choose an in-network provider for mental health and substance use disorder services, you will receive the best benefit. These in-network providers are easy to locate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, either by using our online provider locator or by calling Optum’s toll-free number at 877-468-1016.
We also provide Telemental Health, an added convenience for those who choose not to see an in-person provider or who prefer a virtual visit structure. To locate an in-network Telemental health provider, call Optum® at 877-468- 1016 or visit Some providers will allow you to schedule appointments on the website.
Even if you do not need a Telemental Health appointment, the liveandwork- website is still a great resource. It offers access to self-management tools, prevention programs, educational materials, videos and much more. To get started, make sure to register and create a password. Then you can see all the benefits available through our specific health benefit plan. Click the “Find care option” located on the top ribbon. Next, select “Explore Care Options.” After you answer a few confidential questions, you will receive recommendations about your care, or you can simply select “See all benefits. Under the “See all benefits” tab there are two programs I want to highlight—Talkspace and Self Care by AbleTo. Talkspace is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with no office visit needed. This program helps you engage with a licensed, dedicated therapist anytime, anywhere you might feel that you need some extra help or support. You can send private messages (text, voice, video) or schedule live video sessions. Through the Self Care mobile app, you have access to self-care techniques, cop- ing tools, meditations and more. You will also receive the following: daily mood tracking, mental health tools, collections of long-term life skills, techniques and resources on topics that matter most to you and personalized activities. Keep in mind that Self Care should not be used for urgent care needs or mental health crises. It is not intended to diagnose problems or provide treatment and should not be used on its own, as a substitute for care from a provider. For CDHP and Value Option members, Cigna Behavioral Health Network is available.
Take advantage of a wide range of tools for mental health and substance use disorder conditions when you need them by calling 855-511-1893. A specialist will help identify the nature of your problem and match you with an in-network provider who has the appropriate experience to help with your specific needs.
In recognition of Mental Health Awareness Month, be kind to yourselves this May, and take some time to explore the Plan’s benefits. After all, we can all use a little support these days. I will continue to advise you of the many programs and benefits that the NALC Health Plan has to offer. Once again it is a union plan created for union letter carriers. You do not have to necessarily be ill to use the many benefits the Plan has to offer. If I can be of any assistance concerning health insurance and/or answer any questions you may have, please call the branch and I will return your call as soon as I can. Have a safe and healthy summer.

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