Update on coronavirus (COVID-19) and how you can protect yourself

By Regence
March 02, 2020

As new cases of the disease arise, Regence is ready. Here's what you need to know.

Main image: World map from the CDC of nations with confirmed cases of COVID-19

Updated March 19, 2020

The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared a global health emergency as the new virus, COVID-19, has sickened tens of thousands of people worldwide since the outbreak began in Wuhan, China. The disease continues to spread in the U.S.; the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s COVID-19 page has the most up-to-date numbers.

Regence is highly focused on preparations in the event of widespread outbreak and doing what we can to support our members. We are covering the cost of COVID-19 testing as prescribed by health practitioners in a similar fashion to existing preventative care benefits, waiving co-pays, coinsurance, deductibles, or pre-authorizations for fully insured members.  We have also adjusted our “refill too soon” policy for all medications except opioids to allow our members to have the medications they need on hand. For certain medications, members may also request a 90-day refill. For more details on member benefits related to COVID-19, please visit this page.

"Symptoms of coronavirus COVID-19 include fever, cough and shortness of breath, similar to the flu,” said Dr. Cheryl Pegus, President of Consumer Health Solutions and Regence’s Chief Medical Officer. “If you are sick, please stay at home. If you have traveled recently to places affected by COVID-19, you may be screened when you re-enter the U.S. Make sure to check the CDC’s travel website for the latest information. If you have symptoms after a trip, please reach out to a physician’s office directly or through telehealth. If your symptoms aren't going away, please seek medical care immediately."

The CDC recommends travelers avoid certain countries and regions where there is widespread ongoing transmission of COVID-19. Officials in several countries have begun health screenings for travelers to help prevent the virus’s spread. If you’ve recently traveled to an affected area and aren’t feeling well, you should call your physician right away.

Frequently Asked Questions

Regence has prepared the following FAQ with more information about COVID-19:

How can I get tested for COVID-19?

Contact your doctor if you feel sick with fever, cough, or difficulty breathing. Your doctor will work with your state’s public health department and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to determine if you need to be tested for COVID-19. If your doctor believes you need to be tested, there is no pre-authorization required and testing will be covered under your usual health plan benefits.

If you’re not experiencing flu-like symptoms, the best thing you can do is to keep practicing healthy habits like regular hand washing, covering your mouth when sneezing and coughing, etc. People who are feeling healthy do not need to get tested for COVID-19.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

Current symptoms reported for patients with COVID-19 have included mild to severe respiratory illness with fever, cough, and difficulty breathing. For the latest information about COVID-19, please visit the CDC website.

What should I do if I have symptoms of COVID-19?

If you have respiratory symptoms like those listed above, limit your exposure to others and contact your doctor. If you need help finding a doctor or need help, call the number on the back of your Regence member ID card.

Is there a vaccine for COVID-19?

There is no vaccine currently available.

Is there a treatment for COVID-19?

There is no specific treatment for COVID-19. However, many of the symptoms can be treated. Treatment of those symptoms would depend on the patient.

What can I do to protect myself?

There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19. The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. However, as a reminder, the CDC always recommends everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases, including:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.

Should I be using a facemask?

  • It’s important to follow the CDC’s recommendations for using a facemask.
  • If you are feeling well and have no symptoms, the CDC does not recommend wearing a facemask to protect against respiratory diseases, including COVID-19.
  • Facemasks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to  others. The use of facemasks is also crucial for health workers and people who are taking care of someone in close settings (at home or in a health care facility).

What should I do if I believe I was in contact with someone with COVID-19?

The CDC has the most relevant and up-to-date resources for people who think they may have been exposed to COVID-19

What is Regence doing to address this new virus?

Regence is working to provide information to our network providers, care managers and customer service professionals to ensure they have the latest information about the virus so we can work together to inform and support our members who have questions or concerns. We have adjusted our “refill too soon” policy for all medications except opioids to allow our members to have the medications they need on hand. For medications that treat chronic conditions, members may also request a 90-day refill. Our employees remain highly focused on planning and readiness to ensure we are here to support members and customers. This includes reaching out to provide personalized support as we learn of members diagnosed with the virus.