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.
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.
Looking for a COVID-19 vaccine location? Visit the Louisiana Department of Health website.
All Louisianans ages 16 and older are eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine as of March 29, 2021.
COVID-19 vaccine availability is changing quickly. COVID-19 vaccines may be more available in the spring to mid-year time frame as additional vaccines may be FDA-authorized, produced and distributed. Many states are quickly moving to vaccinating the general public.
There is no member cost-sharing, through Dec. 31, 2021, for an FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccine. That means you will have $0 cost-sharing (no copayment, coinsurance or deductible) for an FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccine, no matter where you get the vaccine and including when two doses are required. You will not have any out-of-pocket costs for the vaccine or the administration of the vaccine. If you get the vaccine during a regular office visit, the office visit will be covered according to plan benefits and you may have cost-sharing for the office visit. If you receive additional services during your vaccination appointment, you may be responsible for copays, deductibles, coinsurance or out-of-network charges, according to your benefit plan.
The Louisiana Department of Health website and the CDC remain your best sources for COVID-19 education. To find a vaccine location, visit the Louisiana Department of Health website. To get the vaccine, you must make an appointment with the location 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, and it will take time to make enough vaccines for everyone. Because of limited supply, vaccination is occurring in phases, with those at highest risk getting access to vaccines first. Monitor updates from local news, the Louisiana Department of Health, pharmacies and health care providers, who may have more information and resources on local vaccine availability.
Be aware of fraud. If someone calls, texts or emails you promising access to the vaccine for a fee, do not share your personal or financial information. No one should ask you to pay to put your name on a list to get the vaccine. No one should ask you to pay to get early access to a vaccine.
We encourage you to stay informed about COVID-19 vaccines and to discuss vaccination with your health care providers, including after you get a vaccine. You should also make sure you’re up to date on your doctor appointments, such as annual check-ups, and receive any needed care for anxiety, depression and loneliness. Most providers offer telehealth visits to help you get the care you need.
We continue to cover medically appropriate FDA-authorized 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.
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 suspected COVID-19 diagnosis, whether the testing-related visit is in-person or is a telehealth visit. If a COVID-19 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.
We waived member cost-sharing for COVID-19 treatment through March 31, 2021, for in-network and out-of-network visits, including inpatient and outpatient treatment and telehealth visits, when there was 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.
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 COVID-19.
- 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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
More Information About COVID-19
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:
- 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.
Your Questions Answered
Find answers about cost, coverage and support for members affected by COVID-19
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.
What do I need to bring to the vaccine appointment?
Here’s what we understand today:
- Be prepared to show your photo ID, such as a driver’s license, to show proof of age. You might also need proof of residency. The Louisiana Department of Health or the vaccination provider may also have a list of required documents.
- You will need to show your red, white, and blue Medicare card because Medicare is paying for FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccines in 2021. If you don’t have your Medicare card, you can find it by logging in to your Social Security account. More information about your Medicare card can be found on the Medicare website.
- If you receive the vaccine at a regular provider visit, you will also need your Peoples Health member ID card.
- Be sure to wear a face mask and physically distance at your appointment.
- Additional information on preparing for your vaccination appointment can be found on the CDC website.
What should I expect at the vaccine appointment?
Here are three key points from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for you to keep in mind as you prepare for your vaccination appointment:
- Your vaccination provider will likely monitor you after you receive the vaccine. This is in case of a rare allergic reaction. So, you should plan on the vaccination appointment taking some extra time.
- You should plan ahead for your second dose if needed, by scheduling your second vaccine appointment if possible. You can also sign up for free text messaging through the CDC’s VaxText to a get a reminder about your second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
- You should receive a vaccination card during your appointment that says which vaccine you received, the date you received it and where it was received. We suggest you keep it in a safe place.
If you receive a two-dose vaccine, your vaccination card will be updated at the second dose appointment. We encourage you to keep your vaccination card with you.
When can I get the COVID-19 vaccine? When will the vaccine be available? Where do I get the vaccine?
The Louisiana Department of Health is your resource for local availability. 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.
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.
Important reminders about the protection COVID-19 vaccines provide:
- Vaccines can take several weeks after vaccination completion for full effectiveness.
- While COVID-19 vaccines may help protect from the virus, it is not yet known if vaccinated people can still give the COVID-19 virus to others.
- 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. To help slow the spread of the disease, continue to wear a face mask, physically distance and wash your hands regularly. If you are fully vaccinated, refer to CDC guidance for mask wearing and COVID-19 exposure.
Are COVID-19 vaccines safe?
All FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccines are as safe and as effective as possible at preventing COVID-19, according to the CDC. The vaccines are key to slowing the pandemic. The U.S. vaccine safety system makes sure all vaccines go through an extensive process to confirm levels of safety. Even after emergency use authorization, the FDA continues to review clinical data about the vaccines. The CDC website has COVID-19 vaccine safety information.
What should I do if I have a side effect from the vaccine?
Side effects from vaccines are normal signs that your body is building protection. As with other vaccines, according to the CDC, people report some side effects with FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccines. The most common side effect is a sore arm. Some other 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. You should also notify the CDC at 1-800-822-7967, as the CDC and FDA continue to monitor the safety of FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccines. You may also 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?
The current FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccines are not recommended for people with certain conditions or of different ages. There are other special considerations for when it might not be a good time to get the vaccine:
- If a person has recently been exposed to COVID-19, see the CDC guidelines for getting the vaccine.
- If a person had monoclonal antibody treatment or received convalescent plasma, the CDC states vaccination should not occur for at least 90 days.
Talk to your health care provider if you have questions about getting vaccinated for COVID-19.
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). According to the CDC, the likelihood of severe reaction to FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccines is very low.
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.
If I’ve had COVID-19, can I get vaccinated?
According to the CDC, COVID-19 vaccination should be offered to you regardless of whether you’ve already had COVID-19 infection. And you do not need an antibody or diagnostic test before or after you are vaccinated to learn if the vaccine worked.
However, if you are currently infected with COVID-19, you should wait to get vaccinated until after the illness has resolved and after you have met the criteria to discontinue isolation. Additionally, current evidence suggests that reinfection with the virus that causes COVID-19 is uncommon in the 90 days after initial infection. If you had a recent infection, you may delay vaccination until the end of that 90-day period.
What is known about the virus variants and vaccine protection?
According to the CDC, experts are continuing to study the variants of the virus that cause COVID-19. Viruses constantly change through mutation, and new variants of a virus are expected to occur over time. There are multiple variants of the virus that cause COVID-19, and these variants seem to spread more easily than other variants. Currently, there is no evidence that these variants cause more severe illness or increased risk of death.
FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccines play an essential role in limiting the spread of COVID-19 and protecting people’s health. To help protect your health, you should follow public health safety practices: wear a face mask, physically distance, wash hands regularly and isolate or quarantine when you are sick. Visit the CDC website to learn more about the virus variants.
What proactive steps can I take to get access to a vaccine?
COVID-19 vaccine availability changes quickly. If you are eligible to get the vaccine, we encourage you to take proactive steps to make an appointment or get your name on a local vaccination list.
Here are a few ways you can to stay on top of the latest news and vaccine availability:
- Stay informed on the latest vaccine information from the CDC.
- Visit the Louisiana Department of Health website to see when it’s your turn to get the COVID-19 vaccine and find information on vaccination providers.
- Call the Louisiana 211 Network by dialing 211. The line is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Or text the keyword “LACOVID” to 898-211.
- Keep up with the local news for information on where vaccines may be available in your area.
- Ask your doctor or local pharmacy about vaccine availability.
And remember, you should not pay to be put on a vaccination list.
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.
Can I stop wearing a mask after I get a COVID-19 vaccine?
The CDC continues to recommend that people wear a face mask and physically distance at this time. The CDC recommends wearing a face mask that fits tightly to the face and has multiple layers. This helps keep your respiratory droplets in, while keeping droplets from others out.
CDC guidance changes once a person is fully vaccinated, which is two weeks after completing the second dose of a two-dose vaccine or after getting a single-dose vaccine. According to the CDC, fully vaccinated people do not need to wear a mask when:
- Gathering indoors with other fully vaccinated people
- Gathering indoors with people from one household who are unvaccinated and at low risk
Visit the CDC website for more information on how to protect yourself and others.
What is known about masks and protecting health?
What is known about masks and protecting health?
The CDC recommends wearing a mask to protect others as well as yourself, along with other public health safety practices: washing hands regularly, physically distancing and avoiding crowds.
Important reminders to make sure your mask works as well as it can, according to the CDC:
- Make sure the mask fits snugly against your face. Gaps can let air with respiratory droplets in and out around the edges of the mask.
- Pick a mask with layers to keep your respiratory droplets in and other people’s droplets out.
- Two masks used together, such as a surgical mask with a cloth mask, offer better protection to you and those around you.
Learn more about mask-fitting on the CDC website.
According to the CDC, masks should be worn:
- By people 2 years of age and older
- Anytime you are in a public setting
- When you are with people who do not live with you, including inside your home or someone else’s home
- Inside your home if someone you live with is sick with symptoms of COVID-19 or has tested positive for COVID-19
Learn more on the CDC website.
Do I need a COVID-19 test after I get vaccinated to make sure it’s working?
No, the CDC does not recommend that you get COVID-19 antibody or diagnostic testing to understand whether a vaccine worked.
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 yourself and others 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/providersto 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 on the CDC website.
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?
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?
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?
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:
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 by email or by using this form on our website.