As the coronavirus continues to disrupt our daily lives, the federal government, the state of Texas, and various insurance carriers are issuing important guidance. We’ve forwarded some of this information to our clients, but we also wanted to make this information available in a central location. Below are several pieces of guidance that you should review. As we receive additional information, we’ll post it on this page. Note that we’ll only post insurance-related information that we believe is important for JME Insurance Agency clients. For other guidance about COVID-19, please visit www.coronavirus.gov, which is maintained by the Centers for Disease Control. Thank you.
Click on the blue headings to access the guidance. The text below the heading links is only a short summary.
FREE AT-HOME COVID TESTS FROM THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT
Order four free tests per residential address to be deliversed by the US Postal Service. It’s fast and easy, and tests are expected to ship in 7 to 12 business days.
BCBSTX OTC COVID-19 TESTING COVERAGE
This article provides information about the recent guidance from the federal government about coverage of over-the-counter (OTC) COVID-19 diagnostic tests and how BCBSTX members can obtain these tests.
UNITED HEALTHCARE OTC COVID-19 TESTING COVERAGE
UnitedHealthcare has established a preferred retail program for its commercial individual and group health plan members with UnitedHealthcare’s Pharmacy benefit administered by OptumRx. UnitedHealthcare’s initial preferred OTC retailer for COVID-19 at home tests is Walmart Pharmacy where members may show their ID card and then do not have to pay an up-front cost or submit a claim form for subsequent reimbursement. More preferred retailers are expected to be added soon.
Haven’t gotten your COVID-19 vaccine yet? Now’s your chance! Find a COVID-19 vaccine provider near you quickly and easily with the Vaccines.gov website. COVID-19 vaccines are the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones from COVID-19 — and an important tool to help us get back to normal. And remember, the vaccine is available at no cost to you at doctor’s offices, clinics, hospitals and retail pharmacies across the country.
TEXAS PUBLIC HEALTH VACCINE SCHEDULER
Through the newly created Texas Public Health Vaccine Scheduler, people can register for a shot and be matched with the next available appointment at a nearby vaccination site. Texans without access to the internet can call 1-833-832-7067 between the hours of 7 a.m.-7 p.m. to find a slot.
FYI: For those in North Texas, UT Southwestern will do vaccines even if you’re not a current patient of UTSW.
ADDITIONAL COVID-19 VACCINE INFORMATION AND REGISTRATION LINKS
Click the links below to access you county’s COVID-19 vaccine website. Note that registration for the vaccine is currently open only to those with priority status 1B, as explained on the websites.
- COVID-19 Vaccination Hub Providers (texas.gov)
- Dallas County residents click here
- Tarrant County residents click here
- Denton County residents click here
- Collin County residents click here
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas members click here for the COVID-19 Vaccine Flier
FACT SHEET ABOUT EMPLOYER TAX CREDIT
Under the American Rescue Plan, employers are entitled to tax credits for providing paid leave to employees who take time off related to COVID-19 vaccinations.
CDC INFO ON COVID-19 VACCINE
Here is the latest information from the Centers for Disease Control on the COVID-19 vaccine. This page will continue to be updated as more information is available.
BCBSTX UPDATE ON COVID-19 VACCINES AND COVERAGE
This page contains information from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas about insurance coverage for the COVID-19 vaccines. It will continue to be updated as we learn more.
BCBSTX UPDATE TO 2021 TELEHEALTH SERVICES
On February 17, BCBSTX announced that expanded telehealth services will continue through the end of 2021.
TEXAS DOCTORS RANK ACTIVITIES POSING GREATEST RISKS FOR CONTRACTING CORONAVIRUS
from Fox News: The Texas Medical Association ranked 37 activities on a scale of 1-10.
BCBSTX COVID-19 TOOLS AND RESOURCES PAGE
This Tools & Resources page has a wealth of information about COVID-19, including coverage information, links to various websites to help you stay informed, information on testing sites, mental wellness resources, and even a COVID-19 Self-Checker tool from the CDC.
BCBSTX COVID-19 COVERAGE FOR MEMBERS PAGE
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas (BCBSTX) has set up a resource page to house all of their COVID-19 member guidance. It includes information about member cost-sharing being waived for COVID-19 testing and treatment as well as for virtual visits. There are links to some of that guidance below.
UPDATE: COVID-19 COVERAGE AND ELIGIBILITY DATES EXTENDED
October 14: BCBSTX is closely monitoring activity around COVID-19 and is committed to helping their employer customers and members stay informed. BCBSTX is extending some of it COVID-19 coverage dates. As always, members should call the number on their ID card for answers to their specific benefit questions.
VIRTUAL VISITS THROUGH MD LIVE
This flier provdes information for BCBSTX members about MD Live, which provides 24/7 access to an independently contracted, board-certified doctor via online video, mobile app or telephone and, if necessary, have an e-prescription sent to your local pharmacy.
BCBSTX MEDICARE MEMBERS: MENTAL WELLNESS RESOURES ARE AVAILABLE AT NO COST THROUGH JULY 2020
It’s natural to feel worried, afraid and even lonely at times. Because it is important to take care of your mental health, BCBSTX is offering you access to wellness resources from Livongo for Behavioral Health by myStrength* through July 2020. Livongo’s resources empower those with chronic conditions to live healthier lives. Livongo’s myStrength website provides tips to manage stress and social isolation, and other tools and information for emotional support during these challenging times.
COVID-19 MENTAL WELLNESS TOOLS FOR BCBSTX MEMBERS
The new COVID-19 and Mental Wellness resources from Livongo for Behavioral Health powered by myStrength are now available to support your Members through these challenging times, at no cost to them.
BAYLOR SCOTT & WHITE COVID-19 INFORMATION AND UPDATES
Baylor Scott & White Health Plan (BSW) has set up a resource page to house all of their COVID-19 member guidance. Here’s one important update from this page: Right now, Scott and White Health Plan is waiving all member out-of-pocket copays and cost-sharing for telemedicine eVisits and tests for the diagnosis of COVID-19. We also continue to be committed to providing our members with access to all their prescription medication needs. This applies to fully insured Commercial Group and Individual policies, as well as Medicare plan members.”
UNITED HEALTHCARE COVID-19 RESOURCE PAGE
On this page, you’ll find information about virtual visits, early prescription refills, and a decision to waive member cost-sharing for the testing and treatment of COVID-19 through May 31, 2020 for UHC’s fully-insured members.
HSA BANK COVID-19 UPDATES
HSA Bank has set up a COVID-19 Resource Page and asks that account holders please visit this page for ongoing updates as they become available. On this page, you’ll find information about an extension of time to contribute to your HSA for 2019 and an IRS notice confirming that COVID-19 testing and treatment may be covered by HSA-eligible high-deductible health plans (HDHPs) before plan deductibles are met.
COVID-19 RELIEF WEBSITE
From Texas State Representative Morgan Meyer: “To help those impacted the most, we are setting up our COVID-19 Relief site to help connect those in need with resources. Working in partnership with the United Way of Dallas, our intention is to connect those in need with the proper organization that will serve their specific needs as related to basic needs (food, necessities), job opportunities, information on unemployment or other government services, etc.”
ELIGIBILITY FOR HEALTH INSURANCE COVERAGE
As COVID-19 continues to spread, our office has received questions from both employer and individual clients about eligibility for health insurance coverage. Some employers have asked about adding part-time employees or employees who did not previously sign up for coverage to the group health insurance plan. Some individuals who do not have health insurance through their employer or their spouse’s employer have asked if they can purchase an individual policy.
MEDICARE & CORONAVIRUS
Medicare has setup a website with informtion and resources about COVID-19. Click the blue heading link above to visit the site. Important excerpts about coverage and about telehealth are reprinted below.
Medicare covers related needs
- Medicare covers the lab tests for COVID-19. You pay no out-of-pocket costs.
- Medicare covers all medically necessary hospitalizations. This includes if you’re diagnosed with COVID-19 and might otherwise have been discharged from the hospital after an inpatient stay, but instead you need to stay in the hospital under quarantine.
- At this time, there’s no vaccine for COVID-19. However, if one becomes available, it will be covered by all Medicare Prescription Drug Plans (Part D).
- If you have a Medicare Advantage Plan, you have access to these same benefits. Medicare allows these plans to waive cost-sharing for COVID-19 lab tests. Many plans offer additional telehealth benefits beyond the ones described below. Check with your plan about your coverage and costs.
- Scammers may use the coronavirus national emergency to take advantage of people while they’re distracted. As always, guard your Medicare card like a credit card, check Medicare claims summary forms for errors, and if someone calls asking for your Medicare Number, hang up!
Telehealth & related services
Medicare has temporarily expanded its coverage of telehealth services to respond to the current Public Health Emergency. These services expand the current telehealth covered services, to help you have access from more places (including your home), with a wider range of communication tools (including smartphones), to interact with a range of providers (such as doctors, nurse practitioners, clinical psychologists, and licensed clinical social worker). During this time, you will be able to receive a specific set of services through telehealth including evaluation and management visits (common office visits), mental health counseling and preventive health screenings. This will help ensure you are able to visit with your doctor from your home, without having to go to a doctor’s office or hospital, which puts you and others at risk of exposure to COVID-19.
- You may be able to communicate with your doctors or certain other practitioners without necessarily going to the doctor’s office in person for a full visit. Medicare pays for “virtual check-ins”—brief, virtual services with your established physician or certain practitioners where the communication isn’t related to a medical visit within the previous 7 days and doesn’t lead to a medical visit within the next 24 hours (or soonest appointment available).
- You need to consent verbally to using virtual check-ins and your doctor must document that consent in your medical record before you use this service. You pay your usual Medicare coinsurance and deductible for these services.
- Medicare also pays for you to communicate with your doctors using online patient portals without going to the doctor’s office. Like the virtual check-ins, you must initiate these individual communications.
- If you live in a rural area, you may use communication technology to have full visits with your doctors. The law requires that these visits take place at specified sites of service, known as telehealth originating sites, and get services using a real-time audio and video communication system at the site to communicate with a remotely located doctor or certain other types of practitioners. Medicare pays for many medical visits through this telehealth benefit.