Coronavirus Benefit Information
2021 Benefit Update: SCAN is continuing to waive copayments for the following types of care:
- $0 copays for visits with your primary care doctor, or member of their staff, like physician assistant or nurse practitioner. This includes in-person visits, as well as those done over the telephone and “virtually” (by computer/smartphone). Many members already have a $0 copay for primary care, but we are extending this benefit to all members during this time.
- $0 copays for outpatient visits—virtual or in person—with behavioral health professionals (psychologists, therapists and the like), because many of us need some support for our mental health right now!
These changes apply through June 30, 2021 (they took effect July 1, 2020). We hope that by removing your copayments for these services, you will follow up on the needed care and preventive screenings that are so important to your good health.
CHECK YOUR SYMPTOMS: The CDC’s “What to do if you are sick” page has a self-checker to use if you are sick and worry you may have coronavirus. Click here to go. Remember to call your primary care doctor if you have any concerns about your health.
Here we provide answers to some of the questions our members have had. For more information about COVID-19, please refer to the links at the bottom of this page.
Q: Seniors are at greater risk for coronavirus – does that mean I should be tested?
Not if you aren’t sick. If you have heart or lung disease, diabetes, chronic kidney or liver disease, or another underlying health condition, that can put you at higher risk, too. Continue to keep up with your medications and other treatments and contact your doctor if you do get sick.
Q: How do I know if I should be tested for coronavirus?
The CDC has a symptom checker on their website here. Answer a few questions and they’ll provide guidance. Generally, the CDC recommends that you call your doctor if you feel sick with fever, cough, or have trouble breathing, and have been in close contact with a person known to have COVID-19, or if you live in or have recently traveled from an area with ongoing spread of COVID-19.
Your doctor will work with your state’s public health department and CDC to determine if you need to be tested for COVID-19.
Q: Is the cost of the COVID-19 test covered by SCAN?
Yes, this is covered for $0 when your doctor or a healthcare provider orders it. It’s always a good idea to have your doctor oversee your care, including any tests, so that he or she is aware of what you’ve had done and what the results are. It may be that your medical group is able to do testing at the office or at a local urgent care center. Call your primary care doctor’s office and find out if you need a test and, if so, where you should go
Q: Will SCAN cover the test cost if I go to one of the COVID-19 testing sites near me?
If you’re not able to get in touch with your doctor or to get a timely testing appointment, then you might consider going to one of the sites run by your local public health department. Many of the sites run by public health departments are free.
But beware: there are private testing sites popping up and most of these are not free—be sure to ask. And again, this is why we urge you to first contact your doctor.
Q: Can I do one of the at-home tests?
The test we’re all hearing about now is currently by prescription only. It’s for people 14 and older whose doctor suspects they have COVID-19. So your doctor would need to prescribe this for you. It can also be done in the doctor’s office (or hospital, urgent care center, etc.). If you think you have COVID, please contact your doctor’s office.
Q: If I get tested before an event, does that mean I’m safe to be around others?
Not necessarily. We are hearing about people getting tested before events, thinking that, if the results come back negative for COVID, they are good to go to a public event. That approach is being blamed for recent spikes in cases. That’s because your test results are only accurate for the moment you were tested. In the time since, it’s possible you could have been exposed to or developed the virus.
The current CDC guidelines recommend testing if you are experiencing symptoms or have been exposed to someone with COVID-19. Keep in mind, the cost of the test may not be covered if you don’t have a doctor’s order or don’t meet CDC guidelines (symptoms or recent exposure to someone with COVID).
Q: What does a negative test result mean?
It means that at the moment you were tested, you did not have COVID-19. Some people get a false sense of security about the result, and use the test to justify putting themselves in situations that pose risk. We recommend that, regardless of your test result, you continue to wear a mask, wash your hands, keep 6-foot yourself from others and minimize your risk of exposure by avoiding gatherings.
Q: What do I do if I get a positive test result?
The first thing to do is make sure you quarantine yourself and monitor your symptoms. That means staying away from others to help protect them from getting COVID-19 and taking your temperature regularly.
If you have a positive test and are experiencing symptoms, it’s important to let your doctor know so he/she can help direct your care.
If you are not experiencing symptoms, it is important to get retested every 10 to 14 days, or as often as your doctor recommends, to determine when you are COVID-19 free. That’s when it will be safe to stop quarantining.
Q: I’m due to see my doctor, but should I put it off for now?
If you need medical advice, call your doctor’s office. This applies whether you think you have symptoms of the coronavirus or not.
If you had a routine appointment scheduled or are due for preventive care or a follow-up visit, definitely call your doctor. Many doctors are doing these types of visits “virtually,” using a smartphone, tablet or computer, or even by telephone. And, if you need to be seen in person, you can rest assured that the office will follow all safety protocols. If you have any questions, please check in with your doctor.
While some care can be safely delayed, other preventive services should not. This is especially important if you have a chronic condition, like diabetes or heart disease. And many of the tests and screenings that SCAN covers are designed to find problems early, while they are most treatable.
If it’s not routine, still call ahead. Some medical groups offer 24-hour nurse advice lines for after-hours calls. And many SCAN members have a $0 telehealth benefit. This “doctor appointment by phone” is a good alternative to an urgent care center.
Q. Can I use my telehealth benefit?
We suggest first calling your own doctor. Many doctors are now doing appointments by phone. They have your medical history at their fingertips and can best direct your care, including ordering prescription refills.
Your $0 telehealth benefit is best for urgent or after-hours care needs. You can call and speak to a doctor (be aware there may be a wait). Or, you can schedule a call/virtual appointment in advance. Schedule a future appointment through the MDLive website or call 1-888-993-4087 (TTY: 1-800-770-5531). Find more information at scanhealthplan.com/telehealth.
Q: Is a provider allowed to check me for illness, such as a fever, before allowing me to be treated?
Yes. Please expect that providers and their staff will do a COVID-19 screening, such as asking questions and taking your temperature, to help protect medical staff. The CDC recommends this practice for healthcare settings and healthcare providers. This means that if you have a non-urgent appointment and you are found to have a fever when initially screened at that office visit, the provider will likely not treat you. Instead, you may first need to be checked for COVID by your primary care doctor or an urgent care provider. If your survey answers and temperature are normal, then COVID testing is not required for an office visit.
Q. Can I get an appointment for my dental cleanings or my annual vision exam?
While dentists, eye doctors and hearing providers have been available for emergency services, many offices are now open for routine care. Call the office and find out what their plans are. If you are having any type of problem, be sure to let them know.
Q. What if I need food or other supplies?
If you are able to get to the store, many local groceries are offering senior-only shopping hours or curb-side pick-up if you order online. Call your local store and find out. If you cannot get to the store – if you are sick or have underlying health conditions, do you have family or friends who can help out? They can drop off supplies outside your door. A lot of restaurants are offering basic groceries for pick-up or delivery. Call a few near you and ask (or visit their website).
If you’re online, this is a great time to try a service like Amazon or Instacart (will pick up and deliver from your local grocery store). If you’re not online, call and ask a neighbor – or drop a note in their mailbox. We are seeing many communities draw together to support one another.
The CA Department of Aging has many programs: reach them by dialing 211. Our Member Services team is keeping track of community resources that can help, too, so give us a call if you need more options.
Q: What if I need a refill on my medications?
This is a good time to think about changing any prescription medications you take on an ongoing basis from a 1-month supply to a 3-month supply. SCAN is also allowing you to refill prescriptions early, to ensure you have enough on hand.
If you haven’t used Express Scripts Mail Order yet, now might be a good time. This is for medications you take on an ongoing basis and you can get a 3-month supply delivered for free to your home, often at lower cost. Learn how to get started here.
Ask your local pharmacy what options they have at this time. For example:
- Are their drive-thru windows open?
- Do they offer curbside pick-up? That way you can stay in your car and they will place your order in your trunk.
- Free local delivery?
- Additional items? Many will also let you add some essential items to your medication order.
Click here to see what some pharmacy chains are doing.
Q: Do I need to stock up on my medications, food and water?
Everyone should have emergency supplies on hand in the event of an earthquake, power outage or other natural disaster. For prescription medications, try to have a 1-month supply. For more on preparing for an emergency, click here.
Q: What is coronavirus (COVID-19)?
It is a virus-based illness, with symptoms similar to a cold or flu. The main way it spreads is from person to person when someone with COVID-19 coughs or sneezes.
Q: Aside from washing my hands, how can I protect myself?
Like any virus-based illness, the best way to prevent it is not to be exposed to it. Follow all physical distancing guidelines for your county or city, including to avoid crowds and keep 6-feet distance when in public places. The CDC always recommends common-sense preventive actions – so in addition to handwashing:
- If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
- Wear a face-covering any time you are out in public.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick—and stay home when you’re sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, not your hands.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
- Keep all medical-related equipment (such as CPAP machines) clean, according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Q: Should I use a facemask when I’m out in public?
Yes, it’s recommended that you wear a face covering if you are going to be in public. A scarf, bandanna or home-made non-medical mask will work as long as your mouth and nose are covered. It’s really important to wash your hands before and after putting the mask on. And all the other safety precautions still apply. Read more from the California Department of Public Health, here.
Q: What do I do all day if I have to stay at home?
Call a friend – most seniors are in the same boat, and it’s important to speak to someone every day. Have friends/family/neighbors bring you books, movies or the newspaper. Download some games on your computer or smartphone, whether it’s solitaire, chess, sudoku, words with friends or a silly game like “Candy Crush,” it can keep your mind engaged.
What you shouldn’t do is watch the news channel all day long. Be sure to get your facts from reliable sources, like the CDC – not from social media. It’s equally important to take a break and focus on something you enjoy, like music, movies, cooking, baking, etc.
Probably most important is to get some activity every day and spend time in the fresh air. SilverSneakers has a wide selection of online workout videos. If you don’t use a computer, then walk, dance, garden.
Q. I’m having a hard time right now, I’m both anxious and depressed.
Both are perfectly understandable. This is an unprecedented situation, where much is out of our control. We encourage you to talk about what you’re feeling. Sharing your concerns with a friend, neighbor or family member can help. We encourage you to reach out. If you are feeling this way, chances are others are, too, and would welcome the change to connect. But you may need to talk with your doctor. Call and find out what to do about how you are feeling. There are online support groups and phone lines, too. Here are a few: nami.org and the Institute on Aging’s Friendship Line: 1-800-971-0016.
Q: I received an email/text/saw a post on Facebook about ordering a coronavirus test / treatment. Will this work?
Beware of any offers to sell you something related to the coronavirus. Scammers will look to take advantage of people with worries about the virus or looking for information.
The FTC reports that scammers are setting up websites to sell bogus products, and using fake emails, texts, and social media posts as a ruse to take people’s money and get their personal information. If you have any questions about your health, call your doctor’s office. For credible information, look to the CDC website.
Stay in the know.
For details and up-to-date information about coronavirus, please refer to these credible websites:
- The Centers for Disease Control
- California Department of Public Health
- Your local county public health department: find yours here.
For information on your SCAN coverage during this time, click here.