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COVID-19 Updates for Members

The Secretary of Health and Human Services extended the nationwide public health emergency due to COVID-19 through April 20, 2021.

New! COVID-19 Vaccine

We are waiving member cost-sharing for an FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccine, as the vaccine becomes available to you. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is working with states to determine who gets the vaccine first. When the vaccine becomes available to you, you will not have any out-of-pockets costs for the vaccine or the administration of the vaccine. If the vaccine is received during a regular office visit, the visit will be covered according to your plan benefits. 

Per the Louisiana Department of Health, only certain individuals are eligible at this time to receive a COVID-19 vaccine due to the limited quantities. 

For the most up-to-date listing of the groups who are eligible for the vaccine and to find a vaccine location, visit the Louisiana Department of Health. If you’re eligible, and choose to get the vaccine at a pharmacy, you must make an appointment with the pharmacy first. If you arrive without an appointment you will not be vaccinated. Some health care providers may also have the vaccine available. Talk with your provider about how to schedule. 

COVID-19 vaccines are an important step in slowing the spread of the disease. We encourage people to stay informed on COVID-19 vaccines and to discuss vaccination with their health care providers.

COVID-19 Testing

We continue to cover medically appropriate COVID-19 testing at no cost-sharing to you during the public health emergency when the testing is ordered by a physician or health care professional for purposes of diagnosis or treatment. A virus detection (diagnostic) test determines if a person is currently infected with COVID-19, while an antibody (serology) test may determine if a person has been exposed to COVID-19. 

Visit CDC.gov for more information about testing. Visit the Louisiana Department of Health for testing locations, or talk to your doctor about where to get the tests.

COVID-19 Testing-Related Visits

We continue to waive member cost-sharing for COVID-19 testing-related visits during the public health emergency when there is a COVID-19 diagnosis or suspected diagnosis, whether the testing-related visit is in-person or is a telehealth visit. If a COVID-19 diagnosis or suspected diagnosis is not present, plan cost-sharing would apply.

Waiving of cost-sharing means you are not responsible for paying a copay or coinsurance for the visit.

COVID-19 Treatment

We waived member cost-sharing for COVID-19 treatment through Dec. 31, 2020, for in-network and out-of-network visits, including telehealth visits, when there is a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis.

Remember to visit network providers and always show your member ID card for COVID-19-related testing, visits or treatment. Also, keep your primary care provider informed of any COVID-19 testing results or care you might receive.

Visits With Assigned Network Primary Care Provider

From May 11, 2020, through Dec. 31, 2020, member cost-sharing for network primary care provider office visits (including telehealth visits) was waived. The waiver did not require a COVID-19 diagnosis. 

From May 11, 2020, through Sept. 30, 2020, specialist office visits and visits for network outpatient therapy services were waived.

Contacting Us for Assistance

Peoples Health values the health and safety of our employees, members and community. In light of the ongoing outbreak of COVID-19, we are following recommended guidelines to implement social distancing. The Peoples Health office in Metairie is closed to visitors until further notice. If you need assistance, you can call us at 1-800-222-8600 (TTY: 711) or contact us electronically at phn.member@peopleshealth.com or by using the form on our Contact Us page.  

If you are unable to get in touch with your doctor, please let us know.

We continue to expand your access to care, support and resources to help you navigate through this unprecedented time. We are committed to helping you protect your health by making it easier and more affordable to get the care you need, when you need it, including from the comfort of your home.

Access to Telehealth

Telehealth gives you access to health care providers from the comfort of your home through digital audio-visual technologies or dedicated telehealth applications. We expanded access to telehealth to help you stay in your home and reduce exposure to the virus.

  • 24/7 Virtual Visits through designated telehealth providers: These visits are ideal for urgent care.
  • Talk to your health care provider from home: Eligible health care providers can provide a telehealth visit for many of your urgent and non-urgent health care needs. This way, you can stay at home while still receiving the care you need.

Telehealth visits may include:

  • Urgent and routine medical care: Providers can use both interactive audio/video and audio-only.
  • Outpatient behavioral care: Providers can use both interactive audio/video and audio-only.
  • Physical, occupational and speech therapies: Providers must use interactive audio/video technology.

More Information About COVID-19

COVID-19 Image

We have a team of experts closely monitoring COVID-19. Our top priority is the health and well-being of the people we serve.

As with any public health issue, we will work with and follow all guidance and protocols issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, and Food and Drug Administration in supporting our members’ needs.

Stay alert for fraud during the coronavirus national public health emergency. Scammers like to take advantage of people when they’re distracted. Read more here.

In keeping safety in mind, many health care providers are making changes to office and clinic hours and locations. Be sure to call your provider the day before a scheduled appointment to confirm its time and location.

Symptoms of COVID-19 are similar to an upper respiratory infection and may include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

Like the seasonal flu, COVID-19 is more severe in patients with long-term, underlying health conditions and the elderly. For the most updated information about COVID-19, visit the CDC’s website.

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Find answers about cost, coverage and support for members affected by COVID-19

As more COVID-19 cases are being reported, Peoples Health is responding to your needs and concerns. Review the information to find answers to common questions about COVID-19.

Your Questions Answered
Updated 1-11-2021

The COVID-19 situation continues to quickly evolve.

Go to the CDC for the latest information on COVID-19, including how to protect yourself, what to do when sick and what to do about travel.

When can I get the COVID-19 vaccine? When will the vaccine be available?

The Louisiana Department of Health is your resource for local availability. Check with the Louisiana Department of Health about who will get the COVID-19 vaccine first in your area. You can also speak with your primary care provider or other health care professional about vaccine recommendations given your specific health conditions.

How much does the vaccine cost?

There should be no cost to you for getting an FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccine, including when two doses are required.

Where do I get the vaccine?

The Louisiana Department of Health is your resource for local availability. Check with the Louisiana Department of Health about who will get the COVID-19 vaccine first in your area. You can also speak with your primary care provider or other health care professional about vaccine recommendations given your specific health conditions.

Do I have to get two doses of the vaccine?

There is currently more than one type of vaccine being manufactured. Some types require two doses and some require a single dose. 

Be sure to follow the vaccination instructions, which you will receive when you get the vaccine. Most FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccines will require a second dose. You will need to get both doses in the required time frame to have protection from COVID-19. We encourage you to schedule appointments for both doses at the same time. Your vaccination provider will help you know when to get the second dose. The CDC’s v-safe mobile app can also help with second dose reminders. To help slow the spread of the disease, it’s important you continue to wear a face mask, physically distance and wash your hands regularly. 

Important reminders about the protection COVID-19 vaccines provide:

  • Vaccines can take several weeks after the second dose to get protection.
  • COVID-19 vaccines will help protect from COVID-19, but you should follow CDC and state health guidelines to stop the spread of the disease.
  • The duration of protection against COVID-19 is currently unknown. 

Because of this, you should continue to follow public health safety guidelines to help protect yourself and others.

Are the vaccines safe?

The U.S. vaccine safety system ensures that all vaccines, including the recently FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccines, are as safe as possible. Even after emergency use authorization, the FDA continues to review clinical data about the vaccines.

What should I do if I have a side effect from the vaccine?

According to the CDC, and as with other vaccines, the FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccines report some side effects. The side effects may feel like flu and might even affect your ability to do daily activities, but they should go away in a few days. 

In the event of an emergency, call 911 or go to the nearest hospital.  

If you have side effects that bother you or do not go away, you should report them to your vaccination provider or primary care provider. Also notify the CDC at 1-800-822-7967 or use the CDC’s v-safe mobile app, which will help you monitor side effects and get second dose reminders.

Are there people who should not get the vaccine?

People with certain conditions or of different ages are not yet recommended to get FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccines. If you have questions about getting an FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccine, talk to your health care provider. 

According to the CDC, if people have ever had a severe allergic reaction to a vaccine or an injected medicine, they should ask their doctor if they should get the COVID-19 vaccine. A severe reaction is one that requires treatment at a hospital or with medications like an EpiPen (epinephrine).  

The CDC recommends that people who have seasonal allergies or allergies to food, pets or oral medications, can still be vaccinated. If this describes you, check with your health care provider.

What is the process for FDA-authorized vaccines?

The FDA has a review process for safety and effectiveness that it completes before it will authorize vaccines for emergency use by the general public. Once the FDA authorizes a vaccine, the Advisory Committee of Immunization Practices (ACIP) will meet to vote on recommending the vaccine. If recommended, the CDC Director will review and approve who should receive the vaccine. The CDC has information on the process here

Several COVID-19 vaccine trials from multiple companies are continuing, with promising results. The CDC is the best resource for the latest information on COVID-19 vaccines.

Will I have a choice in the vaccine I get?

Like the flu vaccine, vaccination providers will administer the COVID-19 vaccine based on availability. Vaccination providers may not have all FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccines at their location. If you have questions, talk to your health care provider.

How will I be notified or contacted when the vaccine is available?

We encourage you to visit the Louisiana Department of Health website at https://ldh.la.gov for updates.

If I’m traveling outside of Louisiana and the vaccine becomes available to me, can I get it while I’m out of town?

Contact the department of health for the state you’re traveling to, and work with your primary care provider or other health care professional about vaccine recommendations.

Can I get the flu shot and the COVID-19 vaccine at the same time?

We encourage you to get your flu shot as soon as possible. Don’t wait to get it. Talk with your primary care provider or other health care professional about vaccine recommendations.

How can I protect myself from COVID-19?

The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. As with any potential illness, like the flu, it is important to follow good prevention practices, including:

  • Wear a mask to protect you in public places.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
  • Do not touch your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Try to stay away from people who might be sick.
  • Do not share cups or eating utensils with people who are sick.
  • Clean and disinfect often-touched surfaces.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, and then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • While a flu shot does not stop COVID-19, it’s still good to protect yourself against the flu. Contact your primary care provider or search peopleshealth.com/providers to find a network provider and schedule your flu shot.

Stay informed on the latest advice:

I may have been exposed to COVID-19. What should I do?

Call your primary care provider right away if you believe you might have been exposed to COVID-19 or have symptoms such as fever, cough or difficulty breathing. Only health care providers can order a COVID-19 test. Find contact information for network providers by visiting www.peopleshealth.com/physicians.

How do I know if I have the flu or COVID-19? Should I get a flu shot?

The flu and COVID-19 are caused by different viruses, but both are highly contagious respiratory illnesses. They share some of the same symptoms, so it may not be easy to tell them apart. While getting a flu shot won’t keep you from getting COVID-19, it reduces your chances of getting the flu, and preventing the flu helps you to stay healthy. 

The steps you’re taking to protect yourself from COVID-19 can also help protect from the flu. These steps include wearing a mask out in public and when in close contact with others (meaning less than 6 feet apart) and washing your hands frequently with soap and water. 

Talk to your doctor. You can also learn about the similarities and differences of the flu and COVID-19 at https://www.cdc.gov/flu/symptoms/flu-vs-covid19.htm.

Where do I get the COVID-19 test?

Call your health care provider right away if you believe you might have been exposed to COVID-19 or have symptoms such as fever, cough or difficulty breathing.

A virus detection (diagnostic) test determines if a person is currently infected with COVID-19, while an antibody (serology) test may determine if a person has been exposed to COVID-19. Work with your provider to determine if you need a COVID-19 test.

Remember to visit network providers and always show your member ID card for COVID-19-related testing. Also, keep your primary care provider informed of any COVID-19 testing results or care you might receive.

Can I get a rapid COVID-19 test or a home test?

Work with your doctor for guidance about the test that’s right for you.

My provider is offering a COVID-19 antibody test. What is the value in this?

Your provider can help you determine if you need an antibody test. Antibody tests can only determine if a person might have been exposed to COVID-19 in the past. At this time, it is not known what level of antibodies, if any, provides immunity to COVID-19.

Until there is better understanding about antibodies, the results should not be used to diagnose a current COVID-19 infection. Also, until clinical evidence is available, there are no recommendations at this time on how this test can be used. It should not be used to make employment decisions or decisions regarding the need for personal protective equipment.

How do I know if the COVID-19 antibody test is FDA-authorized?

Ask your provider to use an FDA-authorized test. Tests must be FDA-authorized to be covered without cost-sharing. FDA-authorized tests include tests approved for patient use through pre-market approval or emergency use pathways, as well as tests that are developed and administered in accordance with FDA specifications or through state regulatory approval.

How does a COVID-19 test work?

For the diagnostic test: A nasal swab is the preferred testing method for a COVID-19 test to see if you have the virus. The swab is collected by your physician or yourself. Your physician may also use other methods such as a throat swab. This test has a high accuracy rate if the sample is taken and handled correctly. 

For the antibody test: All antibody tests require a blood sample. As new antibody tests continue to become available, it’s important to know that not all versions are FDA-authorized, nor are they providing reliable results.

What exactly is telehealth?

If you feel like the term “telehealth” is everywhere lately, you’re spot on. It’s a way to talk with a doctor or provider, right in your own home. You’re probably hearing the term a lot because telehealth use has expanded with the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s become a more convenient way to help people connect with a provider from home—anytime, day or night.

With telehealth, you use digital technologies, like your smartphone or computer, to talk with a provider. You can get treatment options and even prescriptions for medications, if needed.

If you think you might have been exposed to COVID-19 or have symptoms such as fever, cough or difficulty breathing, be sure to call your doctor right away. Ask your provider if you can have a telehealth visit to help assess your symptoms. But that’s not all. You can also consider telehealth for preventive care visits, like annual wellness checkups, or specialty care visits. Just ask your provider about their telehealth options.

If you have urgent care needs, you can also use telehealth services, like virtual visits, to get treatment and even many common prescriptions if you need them. Consider a telehealth visit for these common health conditions and more:

  • Flu
  • Fever
  • Migraines
  • Allergies
  • UTIs

You may find telehealth is a helpful and convenient way to get care, anytime, anywhere. You can access telehealth through your local health care provider if your provider offers this service.

Is there any help to take care of my stress?

Optum, part of our parent company UnitedHealth Group, offers an Emotional-Support Help Line. Professionally trained, mental health staff are there to support people who may be suffering from COVID-19 fear or stress. Optum’s Emotional-Support Help Line number is 1-866-342-6892 and is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The service is free of charge and open to anyone.

The drug I take normally requires prior authorization, but I can’t get in touch with my doctor. What should I do?

Congress passed the CARES Act on March 20, 2020, which reduces prior authorization requirements for certain prescription medications when your doctor is not available to help with the authorization. If you have a concern regarding authorization for a drug you are taking and you are unable to reach your doctor to get the authorization, call us, so we can help you.

Why are Peoples Health offices closed?

Peoples Health values the health and safety of our employees, members and community. In light of the ongoing outbreak of COVID-19, we are following recommended guidelines to implement social distancing. The Peoples Health office in Metairie is closed to visitors until further notice. If you need assistance, you can call us or contact us electronically at phn.member@peopleshealth.com or by using the form on our website at https://www.peopleshealth.com/contact-us.

Note: Early prescription refills through Jan. 21, 2021, will be approved. If you need help or have questions, contact OptumRx customer service at 1-877-889-6358 or 1-800-788-4863.

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