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Coronavirus, Stay Up To Date

As we work together to contain the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic, we want our members to have access to the latest information. We are closely following the situation and will update this site regularly. 

We're here to help you

Vaccine coverage: let’s stick together

We believe the FDA authorized COVID-19 vaccines are safe, effective and our best tool to contain the pandemic. That’s why we are supporting federal, state and local vaccination distribution efforts by ensuring the vaccine will be covered at no cost to our members. When you are eligible, we urge you to say yes to the vaccine, for your own health as well as that of your friends and family.

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

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Updated April 15, 2022

Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield of Western 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.

Vaccine

Will I have to pay to get the vaccine?

  • The first quantity of doses for the vaccine have been paid for in advance by the federal government
  • Highmark BCBSWNY fully-insured commercial and Medicare Advantage members will receive FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccines free of charge
  • Please note: If you get the vaccine at your PCP office, any other services at the same appointment will be covered in accordance with your health plan benefits

Are the vaccines safe?

  • Yes, the vaccines have been safe and effective in clinical trials and since being rolled out to the general population
  • Please note: The FDA and CDC have reported a small number of cases of a rare and serious blood clotting disorder called thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS), which involves blood clots with low platelets seen mostly in women under age 50, that is associated with the administration of the J&J/Janssen vaccine
  • After a brief pause and further review, the FDA and CDC have determined the J&J/Janssen vaccine can continue to be administered
  • The CDC recommends that women under 50, who may be at an increased risk for this rare but serious adverse reaction to the J&J/Janssen vaccine, be aware of this effect and know there are other vaccine options available (Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, or Novavax) where this risk has not been seen
  • The FDA and CDC will continue to monitor the safety of COVID-19 vaccines, to make sure even very rare side effects are identified
  • For more information on the safety of the vaccines, visit cdc.gov

Who is eligible for a COVID-19 vaccination?

  • We are supporting the federal, state and county distribution plans for the vaccine
  • The CDC recommends everyone ages 6 months and older get a COVID-19 vaccine to help protect against COVID-19
  • For adults ages 18 years and older, the CDC advises getting Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech or Novavax for their primary series. We encourage you to talk with your doctor or provider  about which COVID-19 vaccine is right for you

How many doses are needed for the vaccines?

  • Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Novavax vaccines require an initial two doses to be considered fully vaccinated
  • The J&J/Janssen vaccine requires one dose to be considered fully vaccinated
  • At this time, the CDC recommends everyone ages 5 years and older receive a COVID-19 booster shot after their primary series of either Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna or J&J/Janssen vaccine
    • Please note: At this time, the CDC does not recommend a booster dose after the primary 2-dose series of the Novavax vaccine
  • For more information on COVID-19 vaccinations, please visit the CDC website, or speak to your provider about COVID-19 immunization
  • For more information on COVID-19 vaccines for children and adolescents, please visit the CDC website, or speak with your child’s pediatrician
  • For moderately or severely immunocompromised people:
    • Because the immune response following COVID-19 vaccination may differ in people who are moderately or severely immunocompromised, specific guidance has been developed by the CDC
    • Please see the CDC website, or contact your doctor for more information about COVID-19 vaccination recommendations for immunocompromised people

How do I sign up for the vaccine?

  • Appointments at New York State-run vaccine sites can be made on the Am I Eligible website or by calling the New York State COVID-19 Vaccination Hotline at 1-833-NYS-4-VAX (1-833-697-4829)
  • Vaccines are also available at physicians’ offices, pharmacies, hospitals and through local health departments. 
  • Check vaccines.gov for other availability in your area
  • If you live in Erie County, you can review additional vaccine information and locations by visiting the Erie County Department of Health (ECDOH) website here
  • If you live in Erie County, you can also review additional vaccine information and locations by visiting the Erie County Department of Health (ECDOH) website here
  • After you schedule your vaccine appointment, click here to review the next steps to getting your vaccine, including what documentation you will need to bring

Do I need to bring my insurance card to my vaccine appointment?

  • Some locations may require you to provide your Highmark BCBSWNY member ID card and/or your red, white and blue Medicare Health Insurance ID card
  • While requirements vary by location, we encourage members to bring these documents and contact Customer Service if you need a new member ID card
  • Your ID card can also be accessed by logging into your member account at bcbswny.com

Can a COVID-19 vaccine make me sick with COVID?

  • No, none of the authorized vaccines contain the live virus that causes COVID-19, so you cannot get sick from the vaccine
  • The vaccines teach our immune system to recognize and fight the virus that causes COVID-19
  • While this process can cause temporary symptoms such as a sore arm, mild fever, or body ache, these are normal signs that your body is building immunity against the virus

Are the vaccines effective?

  • Yes, the COVID-19 vaccines currently available through the FDA’s Emergency Use Authorization have gone through extensive testing and data from millions of individuals show the authorized vaccines are safe and effective
  • For more information about vaccine development and approval, read this article from the FDA: Vaccine Development 101

Do I need to get vaccinated if I've already had COVID-19?

  • Yes, people who have been sick with COVID-19 still need to get vaccinated
  • Currently, experts do not know how long immunity lasts after a COVID-19 infection
  • There are severe health risks associated with COVID-19 and re-infection is possible

Can the vaccines cause infertility?

  • The CDC recommends that everyone 6 months and older get a COVID-19 vaccine including people who are pregnant, trying to get pregnant, might get pregnant in the future or are currently breastfeeding
  • There is no evidence that any of the COVID-19 vaccines cause fertility problems in men or women
  • There is also no evidence that the antibodies formed from COVID-19 vaccines cause pregnancy problems
  • Click here to review additional CDC recommendations on COVID-19 and pregnancy and fertility

If I have allergies, should I get the vaccine?

  • The CDC recommends that people who have had severe or immediate allergic reactions to any ingredient in the vaccines, or who have had a severe or immediate allergic reaction to the first mRNA vaccine dose, should not get vaccinated
  • Polyethylene glycol (PEG) is an ingredient in the mRNA vaccines and polysorbate is an ingredient in the J&J/Janssen and Novavax vaccines
    • If you are allergic to PEG, the CDC recommends that you should not get an mRNA vaccine and ask your doctor if you should get the J&J/Janssen or Novavax vaccine
    • If you are allergic to polysorbate, the CDC recommends that you should not get the J&J/Janssen or Novavax vaccines and ask your doctor if you should get an mRNA vaccine 
  • People with a history of severe allergic reactions not related to vaccines or injectable medications (including food, pet, venom, oral medication, environmental, or latex allergies) should get the vaccine
  • Vaccine allergies are very uncommon

Are the vaccines effective against the newest variants of the virus?

  • Getting the recommended doses of either approved vaccine is the best way to protect against the emerging virus variants
  • According to the CDC, studies so far suggest that antibodies generated through the authorized vaccines recognize these variants

Will the mRNA vaccines change my DNA?

  • No, COVID-19 Messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines do not alter or interact with our DNA in any way
  • These vaccines teach our cells how to make a protein that triggers an immune response
  • The mRNA from the COVID-19 vaccine never enters the nucleus of the cell, which is where our DNA is kept, so the mRNA cannot affect or interact with our DNA in any way

    Source: 
    CDC

Can I choose the vaccine I want?

  • In most situations, the CDC recommends getting a Pfizer-BioNTech,Moderna, or Novavax COVID-19 vaccine over the J&J/Janssen COVID-19 vaccine for primary and booster vaccination due to the risk of serious adverse events; however the J&J/Janssen vaccine may be considered in some situations
  • If you’re unsure about which vaccine is right for you, we encourage you to talk to your doctor or provider
  • To see which locations are offering what type of vaccine closest to you, you can visit the Am I Eligible website or vaccines.gov
  • Getting everyone vaccinated as quickly as possible is the best way to protect against emerging virus variants

What should I do if I received the J&J/Janssen vaccine?

  • If you have received the J&J/Janssen vaccine and experience symptoms of a rare blood clotting disorder within 3 weeks of getting vaccinated, you should contact your health care provider immediately
  • According to the CDC, symptoms may include:
    • Severe or persistent headaches or blurred vision
    • Shortness of breath
    • Chest pain
    • Leg swelling
    • Persistent abdominal pain
    • Easy bruising or tiny blood spots under the skin beyond the injection site

 

Are the vaccines safe for pregnant people?

  • Yes, the CDC recommends that everyone ages 5 years and older get a COVID-19 vaccine including people who are pregnant, trying to get pregnant, might get pregnant in the future or are currently breastfeeding
  • The CDC advises that pregnant and recently pregnant people are at an increased risk of developing severe illness or hospitalization if diagnosed with COVID-19
  • Getting a vaccine offers the most protection against severe illness
  • Click here for more information about COVID-19 vaccines for pregnant and breastfeeding individuals
  • Please note: The CDC recommends that women under 50, who may be at an increased risk of a rare and serious blood clotting disorder called thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS), which involves blood clots with low platelets associated with the administration of the J&J/Janssen vaccine, be aware of this adverse effect and know there are other vaccine options available (Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna) where this risk has not been seen
 

If I am eligible for a COVID-19 booster shot, will my plan cover it?

  • Yes, you will not have to pay a copay to receive any dose of the COVID-19 vaccines
 

Do I need to wait to get my flu vaccine if I got/am planning to get the COVID-19 vaccine?

  • You can get a COVID-19 vaccine and flu vaccine at the same time and do not need to wait to get one or the other

Will I still be considered fully vaccinated if I don’t get a booster shot?

  • Yes, according to the CDC you are still considered to be “fully vaccinated” two weeks after a second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech, or Moderna or Novavax vaccines  or two weeks after a single dose of the J&J/Janssen vaccine
  • Click here to review additional CDC vaccine information

Am I eligible for a booster shot?

  • At this time, the CDC recommends everyone ages 5 years and older receive a COVID-19 booster shot after their primary series of either Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna or J&J/Janssen vaccine
    • Please note: At this time, the CDC does not recommend a booster dose after the primary 2-dose series of the Novavax vaccine
  • The CDC recommends a booster dose of either Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna advise that eligible individuals may choose which booster to receive even if it is different from their after your initial series
  • For more information please visit the CDC or NYSDOH pages on COVID-19 vaccine booster doses

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 or provider will determine if you should get tested
  • 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?

  • Yes, Highmark BCBSWNY members will not pay to receive an antibody test that was performed by a licensed or authorized health provider between April 10, 2020 and October 13, 2022
  • Consult with your provider to determine if you should get tested
  • Highmark BCBSWNY will continue to evolve our testing policy based on science and will cover medically-appropriate, provider-ordered testing at no cost to our members

If I have not had symptoms or been diagnosed with COVID-19 and I do not have an order from my provider, 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 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

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

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

OTC COVID-19 TESTING

If you are looking to submit a claim, download the form or login to your member portal (non-medicare members).

What is the over-the-counter test reimbursement mandate?

  • On January 10, 2022, the federal government announced new guidance that individuals can seek reimbursement from their health insurer when they purchase over-the-counter (OTC) COVID-19 tests on or after January 15, 2022 through October 13, 2022

What does my plan cover under the over-the-counter test reimbursement mandate?

  • FDA emergency use authorized, over-the-counter (OTC), at-home COVID-19 diagnostic tests are eligible for reimbursement
  • According to federal guidelines, you can seek reimbursement of up to $12 per test for up to 8 FDA emergency use authorized, OTC at-home tests per household member per month (Example: a family of 4 can receive 32 tests per month for the amount of $12 per test, or the cost of the test if it’s less than $12)
    • Please note: Members should only order/purchase and administer over-the-counter COVID tests based on the manufacturer recommendations. Please see the manufacturers warnings included on the over-the-counter test packaging for age recommendations
  • Additionally, to expand options to access testing, Highmark BCBSWNY members can use their existing pharmacy network to receive OTC tests with no up-front costs, eliminating the need for reimbursement
  • Please refer to the following list for FDA emergency use authorized OTC tests available for reimbursement:
    • BD Veritor At-Home COVID-19 Test   
    • BinaxNOW COVID-19 Antigen Self Test         
    • CareStart COVID-19 Antigen Home Test       
    • Celltrion DiaTrust COVID-19 Ag Home Test   
    • CLINITEST Rapid COVID-19 Antigen Self-Test
    • Ellume COVID-19 Home Test 
    • Flowflex COVID-19 Antigen Home Test
    • Genabio COVID-19 Raid Self-Test Kit        
    • iHealth COVID-19 Antigen Rapid Test
    • InBios International Inc. SCoV-2 Ag Detect Rapid Self-Test
    • INDICAID COVID-19 Rapid Antigen At-Home Test
    • InteliSwab COVID-19 Rapid Test       
    • MaximBio ClearDetect COVID-19 Antigen Home Test
    • OHC COVID-19 Antigen Self Test
    • On/Go COVID-19 Antigen Self-Test
    • QuickVue At-Home OTC COVID-19 Test
    • Rapid SARS-CoV-2 Antigen Test Card
    • Speedy Swab Rapid COVID-19 Antigen Self-Test            
    • Pilot COVID-19 At-Home Test (previously - SD Biosensor, Inc. COVID-19 At-Home Test) 
    • Pixel by Labcorp COVID-19+Flu+RSV Test Home Collection Kit (*Cost of this test after the $12 reimbursement may be higher that most COVID-19 At-Home tests)    
    • Cue COVID-19 Test for Home and Over The Counter (OTC) Use       
    • Detect Covid-19 Test 
    • Lucira CHECK-IT COVID-19 Test Kit
    • LabCorp Seasonal Respiratory Virus RT-PCR DTC Test (COVID-19, influenza A & B, RSV)
  • Please note: Tests may be sold individually or with more than one test per package; federal guidelines allow 8 tests to be reimbursed per individual per month regardless of how they are packaged and sold

Who is eligible for over-the-counter test reimbursement?

  • Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield of Western New York fully-insured commercial, self-insured ASO, and Federal Employee Plan (FEP) members are eligible to receive OTC test reimbursement
  • Highmark BCBSWNY Medicare Advantage members are not eligible for reimbursement. However, beginning April 4, 2022 Medicare Part B members can get up to eight free over-the-counter tests every calendar month through the end of the COVID-19 public health emergency from participating pharmacies or health care providers
    • Click here for additional information regarding Medicare over-the-counter test coverage
  • Highmark BCBSWNY Medicare Advantage members can still access COVID-19 testing at no-cost when performed by a licensed or authorized health care provider

How do I get reimbursed for over-the-counter tests?

  • You must complete the Subscriber Claim Form located on our member forms page to receive reimbursement for over-the-counter COVID-19 tests
    • Please note: A Subscriber Claim Form must be submitted for each individual Highmark BCBSWNY member; tests for multiple members cannot be combined on one claim form submission
  • Click here to access the form and be sure to include the following in your submission:
    • A copy of your receipt
    • The barcode or UPC (universal product code) label from your test kit packaging
  • Please note: By submitting a manual claim for OTC COVID-19 test reimbursement, you are attesting that the test was purchased for personal use and not for occupational, employer-required testing, and will not be reimbursed by another source (including other insurance, a flexible spending account, a health reimbursement arrangement or a health savings account) or used for resale

How can I get over-the-counter tests for no charge?

  • You can get free over-the-counter COVID-19 tests at no cost to you through one of the following ways:
  • Mail order pharmacy – get tests delivered directly to your home:
    • Members can order tests through Express Scripts® Pharmacy without any upfront costs
    • Click here to order your free tests - you will be prompted to login to your Express Scripts online account before placing your order
    • If you do not have an Express Scripts online account, click "Register now" and follow the on-screen instructions to setup your account
    • Note: there are currently limited supplies and tests may take up to 4 weeks to arrive
    • Please note: If you do not have prescription coverage through your Highmark BCBSWNY plan, please verify options with your employer
  • Pick-up at your local pharmacy:
    • You can visit the same pharmacy where you get your prescriptions filled – or any in-network pharmacy
    • Look for one of these FDA emergency use authorized tests with no out of pocket cost to you:
      • Carestart COVID-19 AG Home Test
      • Clinitest COVID-19 Home Test
      • Binaxnow COVID-19 AG Home Test
      • Ellume COVID-19 Home Test
      • Flowflex COVID-19 AG Home Test
      • iHealth COVID-19 AG Home Test
      • Inteliswab COVID-19 Home Test
      • On/Go COVID-19 Antigen Self-Test
      • Quickvue At-Home COVID-19 Test
      • SD Biosensor, Inc. COVID-19 At-Home Test
    • At the pharmacy counter, show your Highmark BCBSWNY member ID card, or your separate pharmacy benefit card
    • Please note: If you do not have prescription coverage through your Highmark BCBSWNY plan, please verify options with your employer
    • For help finding an in-network pharmacy, you can visit bcbswny.com/findadoctor or call us at the customer service number listed on the back of your member ID card

Why was I only reimbursed $12 per test when I paid more than that for my COVID-19 over-the-counter test?

  • We encourage you to utilize our preferred pharmacy network to obtain tests at pharmacy locations or through mail order options with no out-of-pocket costs
  • According to federal guidelines, any tests purchased outside of the preferred pharmacy network are reimbursed at $12 per test or the cost of the test if it’s less than $12
  • For help finding an in-network pharmacy, you can visit bcbswny.com/findadoctor or call us at the customer service number listed on the back of your member ID card

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 provider or connect with them through telemedicine if they offer it
  • Your provider will determine whether you need additional testing and care and, if needed, will make a specific recommendation on where to go

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® by Included Health
  • 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 provider near you

Is the coronavirus diagnostic test covered with my health plan?

  • Yes, Highmark BCBSWNY members will not have to pay for COVID-19 diagnostic tests through December 7, 2022
  • Exclusions to this coverage include testing for the following:
    • Public surveillance testing
    • Testing required to attend large gatherings and events (i.e. sports games, concerts, weddings, etc.)
    • Testing required to return or continue going to work or school
    • Testing required for national or international travel, including Canada
  • If you were identified as being potentially positive for COVID-19 as part of pool-testing for occupational or education-required testing, we will waive the cost-share for the secondary, individual test; however, the initial pool-test is not considered to be a covered health care benefit
  • This includes any Commercial, individual, and Medicare Advantage members
  • For information on Medicaid coverage, please visit mybcbswny.com/wny-members/coronavirus.html

What is a COVID-19 rapid diagnostic test and is it covered by my plan?

  • A COVID-19 rapid test is one type of diagnostic test that gives results within minutes of testing a sample
  • We will continue to waive the cost-share for COVID-19 diagnostic testing, this includes rapid testing

If I have no symptoms or a provider'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 or visit the online search tool at coronavirus.health.ny.gov/find-test-site-near-you

If my/my child’s school district/university requires diagnostic testing to return to school, would my health insurance cover the cost?

  • No, school-required diagnostic testing for COVID-19 is considered occupational testing and is not a covered health care benefit
  • You can make an appointment to get school-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 or visit the online search tool at coronavirus.health.ny.gov/find-test-site-near-you

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 provider

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® by Included Health) benefit
  • Your provider 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 Diagnostic 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 provider will determine whether you need additional testing and care and, if needed, will make a specific recommendation on where to go

How can I order free at-home COVID-19 tests?

  • Every home in the U.S. is eligible to order 4 free at-home COVID-19 tests
  • You do not need to pay to receive the tests
  • Orders will ship within 7-12 days
  • To order your free at-home COVID-19 tests, click here
    • Please note: only one order per household can be placed

Treatment

Is there a treatment for COVID-19?

  • There are multiple treatments available for COVID-19 that have received FDA approval, FDA Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) and/or have drug guideline support
  • These treatments include:
    • Dexamethasone, remdesivir, barcitinib and COVID-19 convalescent plasma for the treatment of certain cases of COVID-19 in hospitalized patients
    • Two antibody therapies (bamlanivimab-etesevimab and casirivimab-imdevimab) for the treatment of certain mild-moderate cases of COVID-19 in non-hospitalized patients
      • Please note: bamlanivimab when used alone (e.g. not in combination with etesevimab) is no longer recommended by the FDA as of April 16, 2021
  • 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
  • As new treatments for COVID-19 are developed, we will ensure that our members have access to medically necessary medications and treatments through their existing benefits
  • There are a number of other medications and treatments that are currently being studied for the treatment of COVID-19

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

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

  • You can visit bcbswny.com/pharmacylogin 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 the Express Scripts Pharmacy

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

  • Highmark BCBSWNY 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 Highmark BCBSWNY 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

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® by Included Health 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

What resources are available to manage stress caused by COVID-19?

What is personal protective equipment (PPE) and why did I receive a charge for it at my provider/dental office?

  • Personal protective equipment (PPE) refers to clothing and safety equipment to protect against injury or infection and can include medical gowns, masks, face shields, safety goggles, and gloves
  • Some offices may be charging a fee for PPE due to COVID-19
    • Please note: you should not be charged a fee for PPE
  • If you have received a fee for PPE (sometimes referred to as an “infection control fee”), please contact us at the number on the back of your member ID card

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 

COVID-19 and Pregnancy

How does being pregnant affect my risk for COVID-19?

Although no data has been released that suggests you or your child are at greater risk of COVID-19 infection, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warn that pregnant women might be at a higher risk for severe illness or hospitalization once infected.

Follow these steps to minimize exposure:

Practice social distancing

  • Avoid people who are sick or have been exposed to the virus
  • Stay home or at least six feet away from people who do not live in your home
  • Wear a mask or face covering in public

Wash your hands often

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
  • If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands

Clean, disinfect, and launder safely

  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and objects like phones, light switches, and doorknobs
  • Launder items, including washable plush toys, by following the label or instructions. Use the warmest appropriate water setting and dry them completely. Dirty laundry from an ill person can be washed with other people’s items, but wash your hands after handling any dirty laundry

Keep your prenatal visits

  •  Stay in touch with your health care provider to ensure you’re getting the care you need throughout your pregnancy

What should I do if I’m pregnant or postpartum and have a doctor’s appointment?

Do not skip your prenatal care appointments or postpartum appointments. If you’re concerned about going to your appointment due to COVID-19, talk to your health care provider.

  • Ask your health care provider how they are taking steps to separate healthy patients from those who may be sick.
  • Some providers might choose to cancel or postpone some visits. Others may choose telemedicine visits, which are appointments over the phone or video. Call your health care provider if you have an urgent medical question.
  • In case of emergency, call 911 or go to your local emergency department. Call the emergency department first to explain that you are pregnant and have an emergency. They should have an infection prevention plan to help protect you from getting COVID-19. Do not delay getting emergency care because of COVID-19!

What can I do if I’m pregnant and worried about getting COVID-19?

Pandemics can be stressful, especially when you’re pregnant. Depression during and after pregnancy is common, and it’s important to know that you’re not alone. If you think you may be experiencing depression, talk to your health care provider about how you’re feeling and seek treatment as soon as possible.

You may also benefit from talking to a therapist, psychologist, or psychiatrist with telehealth from Doctor on Demand® by Included Health. Connecting with a counselor has never been easier, and you can get started from the comfort of your own home. Set up a video appointment by following the steps shown here.

Get immediate help in a crisis

Should I consider having a home birth to avoid the hospital?

Delivery options

In April, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) updated its recommendations on home births, and emphasized that medical settings remain the safest place to give birth. Delivering your baby under the supervision of trained health care professionals is always safest. If you have questions about the best place to deliver your baby, discuss them with your health care provider.

 

How does COVID-19 affect breastfeeding?

Mothers who breastfeed:

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.

Sources: CDC & NYS OMH

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Additonal COVID-19 Resources

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Content last updated: February 14, 2022