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Information Regarding Coronavirus (COVID-19)

As individuals in the United States are being diagnosed with COVID-19 (Coronavirus), we recognize BlueShield of Northeastern New York members may have concerns. While the situation is fluid and information is being updated daily, one thing that will remain constant is our commitment to connecting our members to the care they need. We will update this site regularly when we have new information to share.

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Telehealth: You have $0 Options.

If you feel sick, stay home and call your doctor. In many cases, your doctor can provide a virtual visit and provide a diagnosis via phone or video conversation. We strongly recommend members use this benefit as the first step to consulting with a doctor.

Use mail order benefit to obtain a 90-day supply of their prescription medication

Members are encouraged to refill or renew their prescription medication at retail pharmacies when 25% of their current prescription is remaining, which is consistent with the CDC recommendation to have a one-month supply of medication on hand. Members’ benefits will apply as normal. Our team is readily available to help members access the medications they need during this time. 

The cost of the test and treatment is fully covered for our members

We understand that our members may be concerned about their access to care during this time. Be assured, we will cover the full cost of COVID-19 diagnostic tests as prescribed by doctors. We will also cover the full cost of COVID-19 treatment regardless of where the care is provided in the United States. We are not requiring prior authorizations for testing, and all costs for participating doctors, telemedicine, urgent care, and emergency room visits for diagnostic testing related to COVID-19 have been waived.

Health & Wellness Resources

Keeping the Home Safe

All Households

  • Clean hands at the door and at regular intervals 
  • Create habits and reminders to avoid touching their face and cover coughs and sneezes
  • Disinfect surfaces like doorknobs, tables, and handrails regularly 
  • Increase ventilation by opening windows or adjusting air conditioning 

Households with vulnerable seniors or those with significant underlying conditions

Significant underlying conditions include heart, lung, kidney disease; diabetes; and conditions that suppress the immune system

  • Have healthy people in the household conduct themselves as if they were a significant risk to the person with underlying conditions. For example, wash hands frequently before interacting with the person, such as by feeding or caring for the person 
  • If possible, provide a protected space for vulnerable household members 
  • Ensure all utensils and surfaces are cleaned regularly

Households with sick family members 

  • Give sick members their own room if possible, and keep the door closed 
  • Have only one family member care for them 
  • Consider providing additional protections or more intensive care for household members over 65 years old or with underlying conditions 

Source: CDC

Lifestyle & Wellness

Lifestyle & Wellness

Emotional well-being is important at every stage of life. When mental health difficulties arise for you or a loved one, you are not alone. We're here for you.

Healthy Tips & Recipes

Look for sustainable, healthy changes that you can easily adopt to your current lifestyle. Make it fun and get the whole family involved.

Stress Management

Feeling Stressed About Coronavirus (COVID-19)?

The outbreak of Coronavirus (COVID-19) may be stressful for people. Fear and anxiety about a virus can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions in adults and children. Coping with stress will make you, the people you care about, and your community stronger.

Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations. How you respond to the outbreak can depend on your background, the things that make you different from other people, and the community you live in.

Things you can do to support yourself:

  • Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including social media. Hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can be upsetting.
  • Take care of your body. Take deep breaths, stretch, or meditate. Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, exercise regularly and get plenty of sleep.
  • Make time to unwind. Try to do some other activities you enjoy.
  • Connect with others. Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling.

Reduce stress in yourself and others

Sharing the facts about COVID-19 and understanding the actual risk to yourself and people you care about can make an outbreak less stressful.

When you share accurate information about COVID-19 you can help make people feel less stressed and allow you to connect with them.

New York State Office of Mental Health Emotional Support Line

The Emotional Support Line, 1-844-863-9314, provides free and confidential support, helping callers experiencing increased anxiety due to the coronavirus emergency. The Help Line is staffed by volunteers, including mental health professionals, who have received training in crisis counseling.

myStrength by Livongo®

During this stressful time, myStrength by our partner Livongo is here for you. Learn ways to manage extreme stress, get tips for parenting during challenging times, and find support to help you take care of your emotional health. Available through the end of June.

Sources: CDC & NYS OMH

An Important Message from our Chief Medical Officer, Thomas Schenk, M.D.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Updated June 24, 2020

BlueShield of Northeastern New York is closely monitoring the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) situation. The health and well-being of our members is our top priority, and we remain committed to ensuring our members and customers have access to the care and information they need.

Antibody Testing

Should I get the COVID-19 antibody test?

  • COVID-19 antibody testing tells individuals who may have had symptoms if they were infected 1-3 weeks prior; scientists do not know yet if antibodies protect from reinfection and/or how long immunity might last
    • Please note: testing for COVID-19 antibodies is a blood test and should not be confused with the COVID-19 diagnostic test which is a swab test
  • We are aware that some local urgent care and other facilities are offering direct access to antibody testing and we strongly encourage you to speak with your primary care provider before having this performed
  • If you suspect you had symptoms of COVID-19 and are fully recovered, your doctor will determine if you should get tested
  • COVID-19 antibody and/or diagnostic testing is recommended by the NYS Department of Health only if:
    • You are symptomatic or have a history of symptoms of COVID-19 (e.g. fever, cough, and/or trouble breathing)
    • You have had close (i.e. within six feet) or proximate contact with a person who has tested positive for COVID-19
    • You are subject to a precautionary or mandatory quarantine
    • You are employed as a health care worker, first responder, or other essential worker who directly interacts with the public while working (see questions below regarding testing coverage under your health plan)
    • You present with a case where your health care provider in consultation with state or local department of health officials –warrant testing
  • The CDC has stated the antibody test is not 100% accurate and should not be used to determine if someone can return to work or participate in group gatherings; mass testing should be used for research purposes only

Is COVID-19 antibody testing covered by my plan?

  • At this time, the cost-share will be waived and covered for medically-appropriate antibody testing performed on or after April 10, 2020 with a prescribed doctor's order
  • Consult with your doctor to determine if you meet medically-appropriate testing guidelines
  • BlueShield will continue to evolve our testing policy based on science and will cover medically-appropriate, provider-ordered testing at no cost to our members

Do I have to go to a specific lab to get antibody testing?

  • After consulting first with your primary care provider, if your doctor feels it’s appropriate, they will determine where you can go for testing; however, Quest Diagnostics remains our first preferred network lab

If I have not had symptoms or been diagnosed with COVID-19 and I do not have an order from my doctor, but my employer requires testing for me to return to work or continue working, would my health insurance cover the cost?

  • No, occupational testing for COVID-19 antibodies is not a covered health care benefit; generally, your employer would cover these expenses as a work-related cost
  • You should contact your employer for more information about getting tested
  • You can get make an appointment to get employer-required testing at one of the New York State testing sites by calling the New York State Department of Health at 1-888-364-3065 or contacting your county health department

COVID-19 Testing

Should I get tested for the coronavirus?

  • COVID-19 diagnostic testing tells individuals who are symptomatic or came in contact with a symptomatic individual but are asymptomatic,  if they have a current infection, or very recent infection
    • Please note: diagnostic testing for COVID-19 is a swab test and should not be confused with the COVID-19 antibody test which is a blood test
  •  If you suspect you have symptoms of the coronavirus, please call your doctor or connect with them through telemedicine if they offer it
  • We are temporarily waiving the cost-share for medically necessary telehealth visits and your primary doctor is the best starting point
  • Your doctor will determine whether you need additional testing and care and, if needed, will make a specific recommendation on where to go
  • Public health officials urge people to avoid simply showing up at the urgent care or emergency room without calling ahead

What if I don’t have a doctor?

  • If you do not have a primary care physician, you might consider scheduling a visit with our telemedicine partner, Doctor on Demand®
  • They will determine whether you need additional testing and care and, if needed, will make a specific recommendation on where to go
  • You can also call the customer service number listed on the back of your member ID card if you need help finding a doctor near you

Is the coronavirus test covered with my health plan?

  • Yes, BlueShield will waive the cost-share for COVID-19 diagnostic tests for members who meet the NYS Department of Health guidelines for testing AND is prescribed by your doctor
  • Any testing done without a doctor’s prescription, and that does not meet the NYS Department of Health guidelines is not covered
  • Broad public health testing to identify individuals who may have been exposed, or surveillance testing for employment purposes are also excluded from coverage
  • This includes any Commercial, individual, and Medicare Advantage members
  • BlueShield will continue to evolve our testing policy based on science and will cover medically-appropriate, provider-ordered testing at no cost to our members

Will the visit also be covered by my health plan if I think I have the coronavirus?

  • Yes, you will not be responsible for any out-of-pocket costs related to COVID-19 diagnostic testing, including the provider visit
  • This includes any copays, co-insurance or payments towards your deductible that you would normally owe to your provide

Is the coronavirus test and visit covered if I have a High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP)/Health Savings Account (HSA)?

  • Yes, costs related to COVID-19 diagnostic testing will be covered before the deductible for members with high deductible health plans and HSAs

Do I have to get preauthorization (prior approval) for the coronavirus test?

  • No, preauthorization is not required for COVID-19 testing

Where can I go to receive the test?

  • If you suspect you have symptoms of COVID-19, please call your provider or use your telemedicine (Doctor on Demand®) benefit
  • Your doctor will determine whether you need additional testing and care and, if warranted, will make a specific recommendation on where to go

Can I go to Quest Diagnostics to receive the test?

  • Quest Diagnostics does not currently collect ACTIVE INFECTION coronavirus (COVID-19) testing in their Patient Service Centers
  • If you suspect you have symptoms of COVID-19, please call your provider or connect with them through telemedicine if they offer it
  • Your doctor will determine whether you need additional testing and care and, if needed, will make a specific recommendation on where to go

If I have no symptoms or a doctor’s order, but my employer, or New York State, requires diagnostic testing for me to return to work or continue working, would my health insurance cover the cost?

  • No, occupational testing for COVID-19 is not a covered health care benefit; generally, employers would cover these expenses as a work-related cost
  • You should contact your employer for more information about getting tested
  • You can get make an appointment to get employer-required testing at one of the New York State testing sites by calling the New York State Department of Health at 1-888-364-3065 or contacting your county health department

Treatment

If I test positive for the coronavirus, will my treatment be covered?

  • Yes. Effective April 1, 2020 through September 9, 2020 we are waiving all copays, coinsurance and deductibles (including deductibles on HSA plans) for COVID-19 treatment received by fully-insured Commercial and Medicare Advantage members
  • We will also implement this policy for self-funded customers who elect to offer this coverage
  • If you suspect you have symptoms of the coronavirus, please call your doctor or connect with them through telemedicine if they offer it
  • Your doctor will determine whether you need additional testing and care and, if needed, will make a specific recommendation on where to go
  • Public health officials urge people to avoid simply showing up at the urgent care or emergency room without calling ahead

Telehealth

What is telehealth/telemedicine and how do I access it if I think I have the coronavirus?

  • BlueShield strongly recommends members use their existing telehealth benefit to connect with a doctor when possible
  • Virtual visits are a safe and effective way for you to consult with a doctor from your home, either over the telephone or in a video chat 
  • That’s why we’re expanding coverage to telehealth and temporarily waiving any cost-share for medically necessary virtual visits with your physicians
    • Note: if your telehealth visit is with an out-of-network provider, you may be charged a cost-share according to your out-of-network benefits
  • Your physician may offer telehealth — you should contact them directly for more information
  • If they don’t, your cost-share for telemedicine visits through Doctor on Demand ® is also being temporarily waived
  • To get started, download the Doctor on Demand app or visit our website for step-by-step instructions on how to set up a visit
    • You should select either “Coronavirus (COVID-19) evaluation” or “Coronavirus (COVID-19) education” as a reason for your visit if you feel like you may have been exposed to the coronavirus and require testing

If I have a telehealth visit with my doctor for something other than COVID-19, will it be covered?

  • Yes. To keep our community safe and at home, we are temporarily waiving cost-shares for all telehealth visits when your doctor feels it’s clinically appropriate
    • Note: if your telehealth visit is with an out-of-network provider, you may be charged a cost-share according to your out-of-network benefits
  • Please contact your doctor for more information
  • If your doctor doesn’t offer telehealth, your cost-share for telemedicine visits through Doctor on Demand® is also being temporarily waived
  • To get started, download the Doctor on Demand app or visit our telemedicine page for step-by-step instructions on how to set up a visit
    • You should select either “Coronavirus (COVID-19) evaluation” or “Coronavirus (COVID-19) education” as a reason for your visit if you feel like you may have been exposed to the coronavirus and require testing

When will expanded telehealth coverage end?

  • At this time, the $0 cost-share for telehealth services will end on September 9, 2020
  • However, we do expect our members will continue to seek virtual care beyond the state of emergency
  • We’re closely monitoring regulatory guidelines to decide whether or not to extend the expansion of coverage and reduced restrictions for telehealth

If I receive mental health services in-person or through telehealth and I am not considered an essential worker, will it be covered?

  • Effective May 2, 2020 we are temporarily waiving any cost-share (excluding HSA-qualified plans) for all fully-insured BlueShield members for outpatient, in-office and telehealth mental health services performed by an in-network provider until July 31, 2020
  •  If you are a self-insured member, please check with your group administrator for coverage potential

Prescriptions

How can I get a longer supply of my prescription medication?

  • We are committed to helping you access the medications you need during this time and are closely monitoring this evolving situation
  • Currently, we are not aware of any medication shortages related to COVID-19, but will respond swiftly to any updates we may receive from the FDA and our pharmacy partners
  • We encourage you to use your mail order benefit to obtain a 90-day supply of your prescription medication
  • You can also refill or renew your prescription medication at retail pharmacies when 25% of your current prescription is remaining
  • If you have an emergent need to refill your prescription earlier, your dispensing pharmacist may be able to request an emergency waiver
  • Our goal is to ensure that our members can access medications when they need them by avoiding medication stockpiling
  • If you have additional questions about your prescription, contact our pharmacy service team by calling the number on the back of your member ID card

Enjoy the safety and convenience of home delivery from Express Scripts Pharmacy

How do I use my mail order benefit to obtain a 90-day supply of my prescription medication?

  • You can visit bsneny.com/pharmacy, login to your member account to manage your prescriptions, or contact our pharmacy service team by calling the number on the back of your ID card

Enjoy the safety and convenience of home delivery from Express Scripts Pharmacy

How can you ensure my prescriptions will continue to be available?

  • BlueShield monitors guidance from the Federal Drug Administration (FDA), as well as guidance from local, state and federal government and health officials
  • Currently, we have not received confirmation of any medication shortages related to COVID-19, but will respond swiftly to any updates we may receive from the FDA and our pharmacy partners
  • Should BlueShield be alerted to a potential shortage of critical medications, we are prepared to:
    • Work with our Pharmacy Benefits Manager, Express Scripts, to strengthen community pharmacists’ ability to provide early medications if needed; and
    • Make benefit or formulary changes to make alternative medications available to our members

Is there a prescription for the treatment of COVID-19?

  • Currently there is not an FDA-approved treatment available for COVID-19, however great efforts are being made toward vaccine development and drug clinical trials are underway
  • On May 1, 2020, the FDA issued an Emergency Use Approval (EUA) for Gilead’s investigational drug remdesivir in specific settings
  • The EUA allows for the distribution and emergency use of remdesivir only for the treatment of COVID-19 in hospitalized, severely ill patientso  
    •   Please note: an EUA is not the same as FDA-approval; the safety and effectiveness of remdesivir for the treatment of COVID-19 is still under investigation and has not been approved by the FDA at this time
  •  The US Government will coordinate Gilead’s donation of remdesivir doses and distribution to hospitals in areas that are most severely impacted by COVID-19
  • There are a number of other medications that are currently being studied for the treatment of COVID-19
  • Our clinical pharmacists have longstanding processes in place to quickly review the safety and effectiveness of any new drugs approved by the FDA that may emerge as treatment for COVID-19
  • Be assured that as new treatments for COVID-19 are developed, we will ensure that our members have access to medically necessary medications through their existing benefits

Additional

What can I do if I’m feeling overwhelmed or anxious?

  • Visit the New York State Office of Mental Health’s guide for additional support and ideas on how to manage stress and anxiety related to Coronavirus (COVID-19)
  • If you already see a counselor, ask if they offer telehealth; if they do, you can talk with them from your home
  • You may also have access to mental health counselors and psychiatrists with telemedicine through Doctor on Demand® with no out-of-pocket costs
  • Call us at 1-877-878-8785, option 2,  or visit our Behavioral Health Care Management webpage for more information or to connect with a behavioral health care manager

Protect Yourself Against COVID-19 Scams

How can I report scams or price gouging?

  • We are aware of reported scams and price gouging, specifically related to medical devices or insurance policies
  • We encourage members to treat any COVID-19 phone calls, emails, social media, or text messages with extra caution
  • If you are exposed to scams or price gouging, you can report them to the New York Attorney General’s Office or the Federal Complaint Center
  • We also encourage you to contact us before purchasing unsolicited insurance policies or if you’re asked to change the terms of your current coverage

What can I do to protect myself against scams?

  • Be cautious of unsolicited requests for your Medicare or Medicaid number
  • Scammers are offering COVID-19 tests to Medicare beneficiaries in exchange for personal details, including Medicare information
    • These services are unapproved and illegitimate
  • Fraudsters are targeting beneficiaries in a number of ways, including telemarketing calls, social media platforms, and door-to-door visits
    • The personal information they collect from you can be used to fraudulently bill federal health care programs and commit medical identity theft
    • If Medicare or Medicaid denies the claim for an unapproved test, you could be responsible for the cost
  • Be suspicious of any unexpected calls or visitors offering COVID-19 tests or supplies. If your personal information is compromised, it may be used in other fraud schemes
  • Ignore offers or advertisements for COVID-19 testing or treatments on social media sites
  • A doctor or other trusted health care provider should assess your condition and approve any requests for COVID-19 testing

Source: Office of Inspector General 

What's New

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    May 30, 2020

    To ensure members continue to have access to the care they need during the COVID-19 pandemic, BlueShield of Northeastern New York will continue to waive all copays, coinsurance and deductibles for COVID-19 treatment received by fully insured Commercial and Medicare Advantage members through June 30, an extension from the original announcement that was set to end May 31, 2020.
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Our Customer Service Team is Here to Help

Call the number on the back of your ID card to speak to one of our team members.

Stay Informed

We encourage all members to create their own account to receive updates about COVID-19, and access doctor, pharmacy and benefit information.

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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Assessment Tool

Additonal COVID-19 Resources