COVID-19 Resources

Updated 1/25/21

COVID-19 Vaccines

BlueCross BlueShield is closely following the latest information regarding COVID-19 vaccines and distribution progress. 

In December of 2020, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration* (FDA) issued emergency use authorization for Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines. Vaccines are being distributed in phases according to state and federal regulations. Please consult your state health department for their vaccine distribution schedule; a list of state health departments can be found here.

The cost of the vaccine itself will be covered by the federal government during the pandemic emergency period. However, there are separate charges for administration of the vaccines, and most health plans are responsible for those costs during the pandemic emergency period. This applies whether you receive the vaccine from an in-network or out-of-network vaccine provider.

Note that federal agencies have asked the public to be aware of potential fraudulent activity as it relates to COVID-19 vaccine distribution. If someone contacts you promising access to the vaccine for a fee, do not share your personal or financial information.

If you have questions about the safety and effectiveness of the vaccines or other clinical aspects such as potential side effects, please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention* (CDC) website or the FDA website.

In addition, please continue to take safety precautions to slow the spread of COVID-19. Wear a mask, wash your hands thoroughly and frequently, practice social distancing, and get a flu shot. The vaccine will be a new and powerful tool in the fight against COVID-19, but the basic safety guidelines remain effective — and necessary.

*The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Food & Drug Administration are independent organizations that provide health information you may find useful. 

COVID-19 Related Benefits Information for Members

What kind of support does BlueCross offer?

If you have questions about getting care during the pandemic, using your benefits or managing your health, we are here to help you. You may be contacted by BlueCross to introduce programs that are right for you. To reach us, simply call the customer service number on the back of your member ID card.

Are the coronavirus test and treatment covered under my insurance?

If you have COVID-19 symptoms or if you have been exposed to someone who has tested positive for the virus, your doctor can order a medically necessary test at no cost to you.

Any coronavirus testing not ordered by your doctor or that is not medically necessary will not be covered under your insurance. Public health and employment return to work testing are not considered medically necessary and will not be covered.

Most employer-sponsored health plans have waived all out-of-pocket costs for in-network COVID-19 medical treatment for members. Please contact customer service to confirm coverage for your plan.

Are at-home diagnostic tests covered?

On December 15, 2020, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued an emergency use authorization (EUA) for the first over-the-counter (OTC) fully at-home diagnostic test for COVID-19. The Ellume COVID-19 Home Test is a rapid, lateral flow antigen test, a type of test that runs a liquid sample along a surface with reactive molecules. The test detects fragments of proteins of the SARS-CoV-2 virus from a nasal swab sample from any individual 2 years of age or older.

Because this test is conducted entirely at home, it will not be covered by insurance – similar to other OTC products. However, if you have a Flexible Spending Account or Health Savings Account, the test is considered an eligible expense.

Are there any prior authorizations required for COVID-19 treatment?

BlueCross has waived prior authorization for diagnostic tests and related services for members diagnosed with COVID-19. These tests and services must follow CDC guidelines.

How long do I have to file claims or appeals?

The Department of Labor and the IRS are offering more relief to those enrolled in an employer-sponsored health plan. You now have an extra 60 days after the COVID-19 pandemic emergency period is over to:

  • Submit a claim for out-of-network services – This could come from you or directly from your provider.
  • Appeal a claim – You can also submit claims or an appeal for any service on or after March 1, 2020 that normally would have expired. We will review your request based on your current plan benefits.

Is it safe to go to a doctor's office right now?

Generally speaking, yes. Most providers’ offices have implemented additional safety measures such as mask requirements, temperature checks, pre-appointment screening questionnaires and social distancing in waiting rooms.

Many providers are also offering virtual visits via video or telephone to accommodate non-urgent medical needs and behavioral health consultations. You would pay your normal cost-share as you would for an in-person visit. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid have adjusted rules for telehealth services, which can be provided using Skype, FaceTime and similar applications. No formal approval process is needed.

If I have an upcoming preventive care visit or screening, should I go?

Yes. It is still important to attend annual wellness checkups, immunization appointments and well-child visits. If there is not a pressing need, you can talk to your doctor about rescheduling. However, delaying preventive care such as mammograms or colonoscopies is not recommended as it may also delay a potentially serious diagnosis.

Is there chance the hospital or provider will cancel my procedure? If so, what are my options?

If your procedure is canceled, it is likely for good reason. Elective surgeries or procedures may be postponed or rescheduled to free up space or ensure adequate staff. Your doctor can help you determine whether it is safe to delay a procedure and may present other options.

How can I avoid trips to the pharmacy?

If you have mail-order pharmacy benefits, you are encouraged to consider using them. If you have a concern about running out of medications, we recommend you contact your doctor or pharmacist.

*The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is an independent organization that provides health information you may find useful.

 

COVID-19 Basics

Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)

COVID-19 is a respiratory disease caused by a new coronavirus. Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that may cause illness in people. The name of this new respiratory disease is coronavirus disease 2019, abbreviated as COVID-19.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention* (CDC), COVID-19 can affect anyone and can cause symptoms ranging from mild to very severe. The presence of many chronic conditions worsens the outcome of COVID-19 infection. If you have diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure or lung disease, your likelihood of experiencing complications due to COVID-19 infection is increased. It is more important than ever to manage your condition and take extra precautions to stay safe.

COVID-19 Symptoms

Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough and shortness of breath. Symptoms may also include chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat and new loss of taste or sense of smell. These symptoms may appear two to 14 days after exposure to the virus. This list is not all-inclusive. Please consult your medical provider about any other symptoms that are severe or concerning to you.

COVID-19 Symptom Checker

How is the virus passed from one person to another?

Someone who is actively infected with COVID-19 can spread the illness to others even if he or she has no symptoms.

The virus spreads from one person to another through respiratory droplets. These droplets are produced when someone with the illness coughs, sneezes or talks. The droplets can be inhaled, land in the mouths or noses of people nearby and can persist for up to a couple of days on some surfaces. It generally takes close (less than 6 feet away) contact to become infected.

How can I prevent the spread of the coronavirus or other respiratory viruses?

The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to the virus. To limit virus exposure, the CDC recommends that you:

  • Maintain good social distance (at least 6 feet) from others and avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face covering when around others.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after you have been in a public place, after going to the bathroom; before eating or preparing food ; and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing.
    • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.
    • Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.

What should I do if I may have been exposed to or think I am sick with COVID-19?

If you develop a fever and symptoms of respiratory illness, such as a cough or difficulty breathing, or if you have been in close contact with a person sick with COVID-19, contact your doctor before you attempt to see anyone in person. You can tell your health care provider your symptoms and he or she can give you instructions on how to get your medical needs addressed while minimizing the risk of exposure to yourself and others.

There currently is no cure for this virus, so managing mild symptoms at home may be your best option to prevent further spread of the disease. Of course, should you have life-threatening symptoms such as trouble breathing, call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room. If possible, put on a face mask before seeking emergency medical care.

People who are mildly ill with COVID-19 can isolate at home during their illness. When under home isolation, you should:

  • Stay at home, except for getting medical care. 
  • Do not go to work, school or public areas. 
  • Avoid using public transportation, ride-sharing or taxis.
  • Separate yourself from other people and animals in your home and avoid sharing personal household items.
  • Monitor your symptoms and seek medical care if your illness gets worse. 

Should you have life-threatening symptoms such as trouble breathing, call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room. If possible, put on a face mask before seeking emergency medical care.

*The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is an independent organization that provides health information you may find useful.