Accessing Services & Medications During COVID-19
Accessing Medications During COVID-19
We all know that medications are one of the most critical resources necessary for treating most medical conditions, Parkinson’s and other movement disorders notwithstanding. As these uncertain times continue, it is imperative that everyone is able to maintain access to their medications. Below are, in part, recommendations provided by the National Council on Aging.
- Refill early – Medicare and other insurance providers are relaxing limits on refilling early. Check with your pharmacy to see what is allowed. Try to keep at least one month on hand.
- Manage communications from home – It is often an unnecessary risk to go the pharmacy and in other high-traffic environments. These should be avoided whenever possible. When in public, practice social distancing, and wear a mask and gloves.
- Request delivery first – Pharmacies, churches, and other local resources are offering free delivery. If these resources are not available, consider:
→ Ordering by mail – if there is time
→ Asking family or friends to pick up the medications
→ Using the drive thru or ask to have the medications brought to your car
- Updated 4.13.20 – Walgreens expanded their “Walgreens Find Care™” platform, curbside services, and drive thru COVID-19 testing.
Click here for details
Apokyn (apomorphine) has some of the same effects as a chemical called dopamine, which occurs naturally in your body. Low levels of dopamine in the brain are associated with Parkinson's disease. Apokyn is used to treat "wearing-off" episodes (muscle stiffness, loss of muscle control) in people with advanced Parkinson's disease. Apokyn is injected under the skin. You should be shown how to use injections at home. Do not give yourself this medicine if you do not understand how to use the injection and properly dispose of used needles and syringes. Do not inject Apokyn into a vein.
Azilect(rasagiline)works by increasing the levels of certain chemicals in the brain. Azilect is used to treat symptoms of Parkinson's disease(stiffness, tremors, spasms, poor muscle control). Azilect is sometimes used with another medicine called levodopa.
Botox (onabotulinumtoxinA) is made from the bacteria that causes botulism. Botulinum toxin blocks nerve activity in the muscles.
Botox is used to treat cervical dystonia (severe spasms in the neck muscles) in adults; muscle stiffness in the elbows, wrists, and fingers in adults and children 2 to 17 years of age with upper limb spasticity; and muscle stiffness in the ankles or toes in adults with lower limb spasticity. It is also used to treat severe underarm sweating (hyperhidrosis).
Botox is also used in adults to treat overactive bladder, and incontinence (urine leakage) caused by nerve disorders such as spinal cord injury or multiple sclerosis.
Botox is also used in adults to prevent chronic migraine headaches in adults who have migraines for more than 15 days per month, each lasting 4 hours or longer. This medicine should not be used to treat a common tension headache.
Botox is also used to treat certain eye muscle conditions caused by nerve disorders in adults and children who are at least 12 years old. This includes uncontrolled blinking or spasm of the eyelids, and a condition in which the eyes do not point in the same direction.
Cogentin (benztropine mesylate) reduces the effects of certain chemicals in the body that may be unbalanced as a result of disease (such as Parkinson's), drug therapy, or other causes. Cogentin is used together with other medicines to treat the symptoms of Parkinson's disease (muscle spasms, stiffness, tremors, poor muscle control).
Duopa (carbidopa/levodopa) is a combination medicine used to treat movement problems in people with advanced Parkinson's disease. Duopa reduces the "off time" effect associated with taking other medicines to treat Parkinson's symptoms. Duopa is a gel form of carbidopa and levodopa that is infused directly into the small intestine. Duopa is given with an infusion pump through a tube inserted into the wall of your stomach through a surgical incision called a "stoma" or a "port."
You will need a surgical procedure to create your stoma. A special tube called a "PEG-J" tube, will be placed through the stoma and into your small intestine. This tube is attached to an infusion pump that will deliver Duopa into your body. Duopa comes in a plastic cassette that is attached to the infusion pump. Your care provider will program the pump and show you how to use it. Read all patient information, medication guides, and instruction sheets provided to you. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions. Abbvie also has a patient assistance program for assistance with the use of the pump.
Exelon (rivastigmine) is used to treat mild to moderate dementia caused by Alzheimer's or Parkinson's disease. Exelon improves the function of nerve cells in the brain. It works by preventing the breakdown of a chemical that is important for the processes of memory, thinking, and reasoning. People with dementia usually have lower levels of this chemical.
Gocovri (amantadine) is a prescription medicine containing amantadine.
Gocovri extended release capsules are used to treat dyskinesia (sudden uncontrolled movements) in people with Parkinson's disease who are treated with levodopa or levodopa plus other medicines that increase the effects of dopamine in the brain.
Acorda Therapeutics, Inc.
Inbrija (levodopa inhalation powder) is a prescription medicine used for the return of Parkinson’s symptoms (known as OFF episodes) in people treated with carbidopa-levodopa medicines. Inbrija does not replace regular carbidopa-levodopa medicines. Inbrija is for oral inhalation only. Do not swallow or open Inbrija capsules.
Neurocrine Biosciences, Inc
Ingrezza (valbenazine) blocks certain chemicals in the body that may be involved with involuntary muscle movement.
Ingrezza is used to treat symptoms of tardive dyskinesia, a nervous system disorder. Tardive dyskinesia causes repetitive uncontrolled muscle movements, usually in the face (chewing, lip smacking, frowning, tongue movement, blinking or eye movement).
Ingrezza is not a permanent cure for this condition.
Mirapex (pramipexole) has some of the same effects as a chemical called dopamine, which occurs naturally in your body. Low levels of dopamine in the brain are associated with Parkinson's disease.
Mirapex is used to treat symptoms of Parkinson's disease, such as stiffness, tremors, muscle spasms, and poor muscle control. Mirapex is also used to treat restless legs syndrome (RLS).
Immediate-release tablet (Mirapex) is approved to treat either Parkinson symptoms or RLS. The extended-release tablet (Mirapex ER) is only approved to treat Parkinson symptoms.
Parkinson's and RLS are two separate disorders. Having one of these conditions will not cause you to have the other condition.
Myobloc (Myobloc), also called botulinum toxin type B, is made from the bacteria that causes botulism. Botulinum toxin blocks nerve activity in the muscles, causing a temporary reduction in muscle activity.
Myobloc is used to treat cervical dystonia (severe spasms in the neck muscles).
Myobloc may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.
Neupro (rotigotine) has some of the same effects as a chemical called dopamine, which occurs naturally in your body. Low levels of dopamine in the brain are associated with Parkinson's disease.
Neupro skin patches are used to treat symptoms of Parkinson's disease, such as stiffness, tremors, muscle spasms, and poor muscle control.
Neupro is also used to treat restless legs syndrome (RLS).
Neupro skin patches come with patient instructions for safe and effective use. Follow these directions carefully. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions.
The exact way Northera works in treating symptomatic neurogenic orthostatic hypotension (nOH) is unknown. However, Northera is converted to norepinephrine inside the body. One of the effects is a small and temporary increase in norepinephrine, a chemical that, among other functions, helps to regulate blood pressure. Northera is used to treat symptoms of dizziness, lightheadedness, or the “feeling that you are about to black out”. These symptoms occur due to a condition called neurogenic orthostatic hypotension, which is a sustained drop in blood pressure when changing positions or standing. Northera is for use in adults with conditions of the nervous system that can cause low blood pressure when standing (such as Parkinson's disease, multiple system atrophy, autonomic failure, and others).
Northera is usually taken 3 times per day, as follows: First dose in the morning when you wake up; second dose at mid-day; third dose in the late afternoon or at least 3 hours before you go to bed. The timing of your doses is very important in helping to maintain a healthy blood pressure while you are taking this medicine. Follow your doctor's dosing instructions very carefully.
NUEDEXTA® is approved for the treatment of PseudoBulbar Affect (PBA). PBA is a medical condition that causes involuntary, sudden, and frequent episodes of crying and/or laughing in people living with certain neurologic conditions or brain injury. PBA episodes are typically exaggerated or don't match how the person feels. PBA is distinct and different from other types of emotional changes caused by neurologic disease or injury.
Nuplazid (pimavanserin) is an antipsychotic medicine that works by changing the actions of chemicals in the brain. Nuplazid is used to treat hallucinations and delusions caused by psychosis that is related to Parkinson's disease. Nuplazid is the only medication approved by the FDA at this time to treat Hallucinations and Delusions caused by psychosis related to PD.
Requip (ropinirole) is a dopaminergic agent and it has some of the same effects as dopamine, a naturally occurring chemical found in your body. Low levels of dopamine in the brain are associated with Parkinson's disease. Requip is used to treat symptoms of Parkinson's disease (stiffness, tremors, muscle.
RYTARY (carbidopa and levodopa) extended-release capsules is a prescription medication that contains a combination of carbidopa and levodopa for the treatment of Parkinson's Disease, Parkinson's disease caused by infection or inflammation of the brain, or Parkinson's disease like symptoms that may result from carbon monoxide or manganese poisoning.
Levodopa is converted to dopamine in the brain. Carbidopa helps prevent the breakdown of levodopa before it can reach the brain and take effect.
Rytary is also used to treat Parkinson symptoms caused by carbon monoxide poisoning or manganese intoxication.
Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp.
Sinemet (carbidopa/levodopa) is a combination medication used to treat symptoms of Parkinson's disease or Parkinson-like symptoms (such as shakiness, stiffness, difficulty moving). Parkinson's disease is thought to be caused by too little of a naturally occurring substance (dopamine) in the brain. Levodopa changes into dopamine in the brain, helping to control movement. Carbidopa prevents the breakdown of levodopa in the bloodstream so more levodopa can enter the brain. Carbidopa can also reduce some of levodopa's side effects such as nausea and vomiting.
Stalevo is a combination drug consisting of levodopa, carbidopa, and entacapone. Levodopa is converted to a chemical called dopamine (DOE pa meen) in the brain. Symptoms of Parkinson's disease may be caused by low levels of dopamine in the brain. Carbidopa helps prevent the breakdown of levodopa before it can reach the brain and take effect. Entacapone increases levels of levodopa in the body. The combination of carbidopa, entacapone, and levodopa is used to treat Parkinson symptoms such as muscle stiffness, tremors, spasms, and poor muscle control.
Xadago (safinamide) is monoamine oxidase inhibitor type B (MAO-B). This medicine works by allowing a chemical called dopamine (DOE pa meen) to work for longer periods of time in the brain. Low levels of dopamine in the brain are associated with Parkinson's disease.
Xadago is given with levodopa and carbidopa to treat "wearing-off" episodes (muscle stiffness, loss of muscle control) in people with Parkinson's disease.
Xeomin (incobotulinumtoxinA, also called botulinum toxin type A), is made from the bacteria that causes botulism. Botulinum toxin blocks nerve activity in the muscles, causing a temporary reduction in muscle activity.
Xeomin injection is used to treat cervical dystonia (severe spasms in the neck muscles), or muscle stiffness in the elbows, wrists, fingers, ankles, or toes.
Xeomin is also used to treat certain eye muscle conditions caused by nerve disorders. This includes uncontrolled blinking or spasm of the eyelids, and a condition in which the eyes do not point in the same direction.
Xeomin is also used to treat chronic drooling (sialorrhea).
CVS Health response to the COVID-19 outbreak
Thursday, March 12, 2020
Company-wide COVID-19 preparation
Through the work of the CVS Health Emergency Response & Resiliency Team and Infectious Disease Response Team, we continue to actively monitor the current international and domestic environment for coronavirus-related risks and prepare accordingly. Specifically, these teams are:
- Collaborating with partners across the Enterprise to help bolster business unit preparation and continuity, with a focus on meeting the needs of the consumers and other customers we serve, if and when warranted.
- Developing travel, Work from Home, and other HR-related guidance to help employees stay safe and healthy.
- Working with external public health organizations and other stakeholders, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), to boost awareness of CVS Health’s emergency preparedness efforts and capabilities.
Effective March 6, 2020, a number of COVID-19 resources are available to Aetna members, including:
- Waived co-pays for all diagnostic testing related to COVID-19 for Commercial, Medicare and Medicaid members
- For the next 90 days, we are offering zero-dollar co-pay telemedicine visits for any reason, helping members limit potential exposure in physician offices.
Read more about additional resources and more information available to Aetna members.
On March 9, 2020, CVS Health announced additional COVID-19 resources to increase patient access to medications.
- Beginning immediately, CVS Pharmacy will waive charges for home delivery of prescription medications, which will help patients avoid visiting their local CVS Pharmacy for refills or new prescriptions.
- Aetna will offer 90-day maintenance medication prescriptions for insured and Medicare members.
- CVS Caremark is working with all PBM clients to waive early refill limits on 30-day prescription maintenance medications.
We are working with our suppliers to meet customer demand for products being sought in relation to the COVID-19 outbreak. This demand may cause temporary shortages for certain products at some store locations and we re-supply those stores as quickly as possible.
We are closely monitoring the global manufacturing environment. We do not see any disruptions to the supply chain that will affect our ability to fill prescriptions for plan members, now and into the near future. We always encourage members to refill maintenance medications in a timely manner.
In addition to CVS Health’s monitoring, the Food and Drug Administration is closely monitoring medications that are made in China or rely solely on active pharmaceutical ingredients from China. The agency also said it has reminded more than 180 manufacturers to notify the FDA of any potential supply chain disruptions.
CVS Health and MinuteClinic are collaborating closely with local health departments related to COVID-19. At this time, there is not a point-of-care test available for COVID-19 in ambulatory care settings such as MinuteClinic. When we see a patient who is presenting with symptoms of a lower-respiratory tract illness (e.g., coughing, shortness of breath), we ask about their recent travel history (e.g., timeframe and location) and evaluate relevant risk factors to determine their risk of exposure to COVID-19. These visits may also include recommending further consultation with a physician to determine if a higher level of care is required.
MinuteClinic offers patients the opportunity to request a Video Visit in 40 states and Washington, D.C. Virtual care options such as video visits can be an effective way to evaluate and treat viruses from the comfort of one’s home, while minimizing exposure to other potentially contagious viruses.
We are actively monitoring the current environment for COVID-19 related risks and we continue to implement plans and processes to help keep our employees safe and healthy. For example, effective March 3 and until further notice, we cancelled non-essential domestic and international business travel, as well as group meetings of 20 people or more. In addition, any employees returning from a CDC-designated Level 2 or Level 3 advisory area must observe a mandatory 14-day work from home period.
As the COVID-19 outbreak continues to evolve, we are taking additional actions to help reduce the spread of the virus. To support public health guidance from medical experts about “social distancing,” effective March 12 and until further notice, we are giving our employees the option to work from home if their role enables them to do so. Reducing the number of people in the office will also help make the work environment safer for employees whose roles require them to be in an office or facility. Managers of office-based colleagues unable to work from home will remain in the office to support their teams. We are committed to extending resources, when possible, to enable more office-based employees to work from home. We will also support employees in locations such as stores, mail service pharmacies, call centers and distribution centers with guidance and resources to help protect their health while at work.
Effective immediately, Aetna members will have access to the following resources:
- For the next 90 days, Aetna will offer zero co-pay telemedicine visits – for any reason. Aetna members should use telemedicine as their first line of defense in order to limit potential exposure in physician offices. Cost sharing will be waived for all virtual visits through the Aetna-covered Teladoc® offerings and in-network providers delivering synchronous virtual care (live video-conferencing) for all Commercial plan designs. Self-insured plan sponsors will be able to opt-out of this program at their discretion.
- Aetna is offering 90-day maintenance medication prescriptions for insured and Medicare members. It is also working with state governments to make the same option available to Medicaid members where allowable. Self-funded plan sponsors will also be able to offer this option.
- Aetna is also waiving early refill limits on 30-day prescription maintenance medications for all members with pharmacy benefits administered through CVS Caremark.
- Through Aetna’s Healing Better program, members who are diagnosed with COVID-19 will receive a care package containing CVS over-the-counter medications to help relieve symptoms. The package will also include personal and household cleaning supplies to help keep others in the home protected from potential exposure.
- Through existing care management programs, Aetna will proactively reach out to members most at-risk for COVID-19. Care managers will walk members through what they can do to protect themselves, where to get information on the virus, and where to go to get tested.
- Aetna is extending its Medicare Advantage virtual evaluation and monitoring visit benefit to all Aetna Commercial members as a fully-covered benefit. This offering will empower members with other conditions that need follow-up care to engage with providers without the concern of sitting in a physician’s office and risking potential exposure to COVID-19.
- Beginning immediately, CVS Pharmacy will waive charges for home delivery of prescription medications. With the CDC 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.
|Anthem’s affiliated health plans waive member costs for COVID-19 testing, while supporting telehealth and 90-day maintenance medication supply|
|INDIANAPOLIS–(BUSINESS WIRE)– Amid the growing concerns about the spread of the COVID-19 in communities across the country, Anthem, Inc., announced today its efforts to eliminate the burden of additional costs for members in its affiliated health plans by providing coverage of the coronavirus screening test at no out-of-pocket-cost. The companies also confirm that prior authorization is not required for diagnostic services related to COVID-19 testing.
“We are committed to keeping healthcare affordable for the consumers we serve. While the CDC continues to advise that the risk for the virus remains low, we are mindful of our responsibility to our health plan consumers and communities to ensure access to care,” said Anthem President and CEO Gail K. Boudreaux. “These actions today should reduce barriers to seeing a doctor, getting tested and maintaining adherence to medications for long-term health issues.”
Testing similar to what is offered now from the Centers for Disease Control will soon be offered more broadly. Anthem’s waiver of copays, coinsurance and deductibles and prior authorization will extend to this focused test used to diagnose COVID-19 for all of Anthem’s affiliated health plan fully-insured, individual, Medicaid and Medicare members when medically necessary.
Anthem also recommends members use telehealth when possible, as it can help prevent them from spreading a virus further within a physical clinical setting. Anthem’s telehealth provider, LiveHealth Online, is a safe and effective way for members to see a doctor to receive health guidance related to COVID-19 from their homes via smart phone, tablet or computer-enabled web cam. LiveHealth Online is offered as a health plan benefit to many individual, employer-sponsored and Medicaid and Medicare members. It is also available as a cost effective option to all consumers.
As there is a heightened awareness of COVID-19 and more cases are diagnosed in the United States, LiveHealth Online is increasing physician availability to handle a potential increase in patients, while maintaining reasonable wait times.
Anthem is also encouraging its health plan members who have a pharmacy plan that includes a 90-day benefit, to talk to their doctor about whether changing from a 30-day supply to a 90-day supply of any prescription medicines they take on a regular basis is appropriate. Members filling 90-day prescriptions can obtain their medications through our home delivery pharmacy and, in some circumstances, select retail pharmacies. Preparing with a longer supply could help to avoid any potential issues with localized shortages. Members can call the pharmacy services number on the back of their health plan ID card to learn more.
CIGNA COVERS COST OF CORONAVIRUS TESTS FOR CUSTOMERS – 05 March 2020
BLOOMFIELD, Conn., March 5, 2020 — Cigna (NYSE: CI) customers will have access to coronavirus (COVID-19) testing, as prescribed by health practitioners, and the company will waive all co-pays or cost-shares to help fight the rapid spread of the virus in the U.S. and for its globally mobile customers.
“During this time of heightened concern, Cigna’s role is clear. We will do everything we can to help contain this virus, remove barriers to testing and treatment, especially for seniors and people who are chronically ill, and give peace of mind to those we serve,” said David M. Cordani, president and chief executive officer, Cigna. “This is another example of how, every day, we strive to stand by our customers through their life and health journeys.”
Current testing is available through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and is being offered at no cost. Testing is expected to expand shortly as more commercial testing becomes available at a designated lab approved by the United States Food & Drug Administration. Cigna has committed to covering the medical test similar to a preventive benefit for fully-insured plans, thereby waiving co-pays, coinsurance or deductibles for customers. This includes customers enrolled in Cigna’s employer-sponsored plans in the United States, Medicare Advantage, Medicaid and the Individual & Family plans available through the Affordable Care Act. Organizations that offer Administrative Services Only (ASO) plans will also have the option to include coronavirus testing as a preventive benefit.
Procedure codes for health care providers are expected to be available April 1, 2020. Cigna is standing up a 24/7 customer resource center specifically dedicated to help customers with any administrative barriers related to coronavirus-related claims.
Recognizing that health outbreaks can increase feelings of stress, anxiety and sleeplessness and in some cases, loss, Cigna is also staffing a second phone line for customers. This 24-hour toll-free telephone help line will connect customers and caregivers directly with qualified clinicians who can provide support and guidance on coping and resiliency.
Any individual who suspects they may have been exposed to the coronavirus or is exhibiting symptoms should consult with their health care provider to make the appropriate testing recommendation, in line with CDC guidelines.
To mitigate exposure risks, customers are reminded that telehealth options are available for seeking on-demand medical attention, as appropriate. To access telehealth options, visit mycigna.com and select the “Connect Now” button on the home page to talk with a doctor or nurse any time day or night.
Cigna Corporation is a global health service company dedicated to improving the health, well-being and peace of mind of those we serve. Cigna delivers choice, predictability, affordability and access to quality care through integrated capabilities and connected, personalized solutions that advance whole person health. All products and services are provided exclusively by or through operating subsidiaries of Cigna Corporation, including Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company, Cigna Life Insurance Company of New York, Connecticut General Life Insurance Company, Express Scripts companies or their affiliates, and Life Insurance Company of North America.
Such products and services include an integrated suite of health services, such as medical, dental, behavioral health, pharmacy, vision, supplemental benefits, and other related products including group life, accident and disability insurance. Cigna maintains sales capability in over 30 countries and jurisdictions, and has more than 170 million customer relationships throughout the world. To learn more about Cigna®, including links to follow us on Facebook or Twitter, visit www.cigna.com.
Humana has announced a series of steps aimed at protecting our members and reducing the spread of the new coronavirus disease, or COVID-19.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), older adults and people with multiple chronic conditions are at higher risk for more symptomatic disease. Many of Humana’s Medicare Advantage members are living with multiple chronic conditions, which potentially puts them at a greater risk.
The situation involving the outbreak of COVID-19 is rapidly evolving, and we are implementing the following measures effective immediately:
- Testing is fully covered.Testing for COVID-19 will be fully covered with no out-of-pocket costs for patients who meet CDC guidelines at approved laboratory locations. This applies to members of Humana’s Medicare Advantage, Medicaid and commercial employer-sponsored plans. The CDC continues to offer free testing for coronavirus.
- Telemedicine visits for all urgent care needs are fully covered.To help reduce the risk of infection and spread of disease, Humana is encouraging members to use telemedicine (e.g., video chat) as a first line of defense for all urgent care needs. Humana will waive out-of-pocket costs for telemedicine visits for urgent care needs for the next 90 days. This will apply to Humana’s Medicare Advantage, Medicaid and commercial employer-sponsored plans, and is limited to in-network providers delivering live video-conferencing. Humana is working closely with federal agencies to understand the impacts of both telemedicine and the coronavirus test on High Deductible Health Plans and Health Savings Accounts.
- Early prescription refills allowed for next 30 days –Humana is allowing early refills on prescription medicines so our members can prepare for extended supply needs—an extra 30- or 90-day supply as appropriate.
- Member support line available.Humana has trained a specialized group of call center associates to help support our members with specific coronavirus questions and concerns, including assistance in accessing their telemedicine benefits. Members can call Humana’s toll-free customer support line, which can be found on the back of their member I.D. card, to be connected to this dedicated team of professionals.
If you suspect that you have been exposed to coronavirus or are experiencing symptoms, please consult with your health care provider to seek testing recommendations and treatment.
Everyone is encouraged to wash their hands frequently and thoroughly, avoid close contact with people who are sick, stay home if you are ill, and cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze. Here is an easy-to-follow illustration, PDF opens new window of some steps you can take to help keep you safe and healthy.
More information on how to protect yourself is available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, opens new window. The CDC offers specific advice for people who are at higher risk, opens new window of serious illness, as well as a guide to steps everyone can take to help keep their home, workplace or school, PDF opens new window safe.
Revised March 10, 2020
Novel coronavirus/COVID-19 – March 10, 2020
The novel coronavirus, which causes a disease known as COVID-19, is spreading from person to person in parts of the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention the potential public health threat posed by COVID-19 is very high. At this time, however, most people in the United States will have little immediate risk of exposure to this virus as it is not currently widespread in most communities in the United States.
Current global circumstances suggest it is likely that this virus will cause a pandemic, which is the worldwide spread of a new disease. This is a rapidly evolving situation and the CDC’s risk assessment will be updated as needed.
Patients with COVID-19 have mild to severe respiratory illness with symptoms that can include fever, cough, and shortness of breath, according to the CDC. There is no specific treatment for COVID-19. Most infected people will recover on their own.
It’s still cold and flu season, and the same practices that stop the spread of these common illnesses are recommended:
Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers are also effective.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
Stay home if you are sick (except to get medical care). Keep sick children home from school or day care.
Cough or sneeze into a tissue or your elbow. If you use a tissue, wash your hands afterward.
Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces (like doorknobs and light switches). Regular household cleaners are effective.
Get plenty of rest, drink plenty of fluids, eat healthy foods, and manage your stress to keep your immunity strong.
If you or a family member has traveled recently to an area of risk, or if you think you may have been exposed to the virus and have symptoms of respiratory illness, you should call the advice number on your Kaiser Permanente membership card for further instructions. It’s important to call us ahead of time rather than coming directly in to one of our facilities or making an appointment online. Calling ahead helps us direct you to the most appropriate care, and take precautions to protect other members, patients, and employees.
Guidance for people at higher risk for severe COVID-19 illness
Public health agencies recommend that people at higher risk of severe illness should stay home and away from large groups of people as much as possible, including public places with lots of people and large gatherings where there will be close contact with others. This includes concert venues, conventions, sporting events, and crowded social gatherings.
People at higher risk include those:
Over 60 years of age
With underlying health conditions including include heart disease, lung disease, or diabetes
With weakened immune systems
Who are pregnant
There is no evidence that children are more susceptible to COVID-19. In fact, most confirmed cases have occurred in adults. Caregivers of children with underlying health conditions should consult their doctor about whether their children should stay home. Anyone who has questions about whether their condition puts them at risk for COVID-19 should call the advice number on their Kaiser Permanente membership card.
Testing and costs
Kaiser Permanente currently does not recommend testing people who are not showing symptoms of COVID-19 (cough, fever, difficulty breathing). For patients with symptoms who meet the criteria, we will make appropriate arrangements for testing. As a member of Kaiser Permanente, you will not have to pay for costs related to COVID-19 screening or testing. We believe that cost should not be a barrier to screening or testing for our members who may have been affected by this virus. Kaiser Permanente will not charge member cost-sharing (including, but not limited to, copays, deductibles, and coinsurance) for all medically necessary screening and testing for COVID-19. This policy applies to the cost of the visit, associated lab tests, and radiology services at our hospital, emergency department, urgent care, and provider locations where the purpose of the visit is to be screened and/or tested for COVID-19.
In the event you are diagnosed with COVID-19, additional services, including hospital admission (if applicable) will be covered and charged according to your normal plan coverage rules.
It’s easy to get care and advice through our telehealth options — including phone, email, and video — without an in-person visit. To take advantage of these telehealth options, you should call the advice number on your Kaiser Permanente membership card for instructions.
It’s a good idea to fill your prescriptions through our mail-order service, especially during the COVID-19 outbreak, not only because you can avoid standing in line at the pharmacy but also because with most prescriptions you can get 3 months’ supply for the price of 2 months. Sign up on kp.org/rxrefill and receive your medications in about 3 to 5 business days. For urgent prescriptions, you should visit your closest Kaiser Permanente medical center pharmacy.
The CDC does not currently recommend the use of masks among the general public. Only health care professionals caring for COVID-19 patients, people who are sick with COVID-19, or in some cases people caring for patients who are sick with COVID-19 need precautions like a face mask to help limit their risk of spreading COVID-19. Accordingly, we will only provide masks to members and patients who are symptomatic when they come to our facilities. This helps us ensure that we have masks for the patients and staff who need them most urgently.
Kaiser Permanente is committed to the health and safety of our members, patients, employees, and physicians. We have been working on confronting highly infectious diseases for years, and we are confident we can safely treat patients who have been infected with this virus, with very little risk to our other patients, members, and employees. Staff at all our medical centers regularly drill using various emergency scenarios, including detection and treatment of infectious diseases, and have been advised about the CDC protocols to be used with this coronavirus. Additionally, as in all cases of emerging infectious diseases, the CDC’s recommendations could change, so we are monitoring and following them closely. Please know you are in good hands with us.
For more information, please visit the CDC website for the latest COVID-19 information.
UnitedHealth Group Reinforces Actions Taken to Provide Members and Patients with COVID-19 Support and Resources
UnitedHealthcare has waived all diagnostic test cost-sharing for insured members
OptumCare clinicians are trained, well-prepared and addressing patients’ needs
Optum’s Emotional-Support Help Line is free of charge to help anyone dealing with stress and anxiety
3/9/2020MINNETONKA, Minn. —
UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH), UnitedHealthcare and Optum are taking action to ensure health plan members and patients affected by COVID-19 have the support and resources they need.
“Our top priority is the health and well-being of our members and patients – and the safety of those who deliver care,” said Dr. Richard Migliori, chief medical officer, UnitedHealth Group. “While the situation is dynamic, we are committed to adapting and supporting those we serve.”
Actions to Support Members, Patients and the Community
- Individuals who feel like they may have been exposed to COVID-19 should immediately contact their primary care provider for guidance. Advance telephone calls are highly recommended to ensure safe and proper patient handling.
- As previously communicated, UnitedHealthcare has waived all member cost sharing, including copays, coinsurance and deductibles, for COVID-19 diagnostic testing provided at approved locations in accordance with CDC guidelines for all commercial insured, Medicaid and Medicare members. UnitedHealthcare is also supporting self-insured customers choosing to implement similar actions.
- Optum’s Emotional-Support Help Line is available to support anyone who may be experiencing anxiety or stress following the recent developments around COVID-19. The free service can be reached at (866) 342-6892, 24 hours a day, seven days a week and is open to all. In addition, emotional-support resources and information are available online at www.liveandworkwell.com.
- OptumCare clinicians across the country are well-prepared and providing compassionate care to COVID-19 patients of the more than 18 million people we serve through our primary care practices, urgent care centers, and in patient homes and nursing homes.
- To limit the spread of COVID-19, OptumCare clinicians have been trained on the CDC safety and clinical care protocols enabling patients to get the appropriate care, ensure the safety and well-being of the team, and protect others from exposure.
- Eligible UnitedHealthcare and OptumRx members needing help obtaining an early prescription refill can call the customer care number located on the back of their medical ID card for assistance.
- Health plan members are encouraged to use UnitedHealthcare’s Virtual Visit* capability, available through the UnitedHealthcare app, to help answer any general questions or concerns they might have.
- UnitedHealth Group is utilizing its advanced analytics capabilities to enhance situational awareness and continuously adapt and evolve support services for members, patients and employees.
For the Latest Information
- Because this situation continues to evolve, we encourage people to stay informed by visiting the CDC website.
- If individuals have travel plans, be sure to check out the CDC’s travel advisories, including the recently released CDC travel guidance for older Americans, people with underlying health concerns and all travelers planning cruise ship travel.