Healthfirst is actively monitoring the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak and is here to help you get access to the care you need. Continue to check this page as it will be updated as new information becomes available.
Coronavirus (COVID-19) - What You Should Know
What should I do if I think I have the coronavirus?
Call your doctor if you develop a fever, have a cough, difficulty breathing, repeated shaking with chills, or new loss of taste or smell. Let your doctor know if you’ve been in close contact with a person known to have Coronavirus (COVID-19). Be sure to carefully follow your doctors’ instructions. You should not go to the hospital or emergency room just to find out if you have coronavirus. ONLY go to the emergency room if you have shortness of breath, chest pain or difficulty talking.
If you are sick with any of the symptoms above, you must stay inside and isolate yourself from others. You should stay home until at least 10 days have passed since the onset of your symptoms AND at least 3 days since you had a fever. While at home, stay as far away from the people you live with as is possible. Do not share personal items, like dishes, towels, or bedding, with others. Wash your hands frequently and clean all surfaces you touch with household cleaning spray.
At Healthfirst, our commitment to getting you access to high-quality care remains our top priority. Telemedicine lets you receive medical advice or treatment by phone or online video, right from the comfort of your home.
To start using telemedicine, here’s what you should know and do
- Call your primary care provider (PCP)
Call your doctor to see if they’re participating in telemedicine. Since they already know your medical history, they’re a great first choice. If your doctor provides phone or video appointments, follow their instructions.
- Use Teladoc®*
If your doctor isn’t available, or if it’s after hours or on a weekend, you can meet with a Teladoc doctor by phone or video 24/7 by visiting Teladoc.com/Healthfirst or by calling 1-800-TELADOC (835-2362). After setting up a Teladoc account, you can schedule and attend a virtual doctor appointment via phone or video, receive a prescription, and more. Teladoc® lets you access a national network of board-certified PCPs, family practitioners, and pediatricians (not your own PCP).
* This service is not yet available for Senior Health Partners (SHP) plan members
Paying for Telemedicine Services
During the NY state of emergency, cost-sharing (your copay) is waived for all services delivered via telemedicine by in-network providers or via Teladoc®. You won’t be charged for a telemedicine visit even if the visit is for something unrelated to the Coronavirus: Type (COVID-19).
Important note: Telemedicine services and/or Teladoc® should not be used in place of emergency care or urgent care.
Member PPE Charges
As the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic continues, providers and their staff are using more personal protective equipment (PPE) during in-patient office visits. PPE includes face masks, face shields, gowns, and gloves. Healthfirst members are not responsible to pay for PPE billed by a participating provider for a covered visit.
If a provider has billed or asked you to pay for PPE, let us know. Call the Member Services phone number on your Member ID card or send a complaint in writing to Healthfirst, P.O. Box 5166, New York, NY 10274-5166 (or fax it to 1-646-313-4618). The complaint should include the provider’s name, date of treatment, the PPE fee charged, and a copy of your bill (if available). We’ll work with the provider to resolve your bill.
To learn more about New York State guidance on PPE charges, visit the New York Department of Financial Services’ website to read the department’s Circular Letter No. 14 (2020).
Mental Health Services for Essential Workers
Cost-sharing is waived for in-network outpatient mental health services for dates of service on or after May 2, 2020 through November 27, 2020 (unless extended by regulation) for any Healthfirst member who was employed as an essential worker at any time on or after March 7, 2020.* A definition of “essential worker” is available on the New York State Department of Financial Services website.
If you are an essential worker and you have paid or received a bill for in-network outpatient mental health services for dates of service listed above, please call the Member Services phone number on your Member ID card.
*This waiver applies to Essential Plan, Qualified Health Plan, and Small Business Plan** members only. It does not apply to Medicare, Medicaid, Health and Recovery Plans, Child Health Plus, or high-deductible plans.
**Excludes all Health Savings Account-compatible Bronze plans.
Who should get tested for COVID to see if they are currently infected?
Free and convenient testing sites for COVID/coronavirus are available (on a walk-in basis, with no appointment necessary Get tested if you:
- Have COVID-19 symptoms like fever, cough, shortness of breath or loss of taste or smell
- Have been in close contact with someone who tests positive
- Work in a nursing home, shelter or adult care facility, or as a first responder or health care worker
I am currently ill with symptoms consistent with COVID. Should I be tested?
At this time, anyone with COVID-19 symptoms should receive a swab or saliva test. Call your provider if you think you may need to be tested. You can also click here to find a community testing site near you. Healthfirst members outside NYC can click here.
Since antibodies do not usually become detectable until 1-3 weeks after symptoms begin, they are NOT useful to diagnose a current illness as COVID-19.
If you have mild to moderate symptoms, stay home while you wait to be tested. Do not leave home except to get essential medical care (including testing for COVID-19) or to get basic needs such as groceries (if someone can’t get them for you). If you have more serious symptoms, please seek medical care right away.
Should I be tested after recovering from confirmed COVID?
No, repeat testing is not recommended at this time. As above, for patients recovering at home, it is possible to assume that someone can no longer spread the virus if:
- at least 3 days (72 hours) have passed since recovery (that is, symptoms have cleared up) and
- at least 10 days have passed since symptoms first appeared, even without testing to ensure there is no more virus present.
Note that guidance is slightly different for those who had infection without symptoms. Please contact your primary care physician (PCP) for specific guidance.
Should I be tested for antibodies after recovering from suspected COVID to show that my past illness was, in fact, COVID?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), COVID antibody testing should not be used at this time to find out if you are immune (“protected”) to COVID. Although it is understood that the presence of antibodies (specifically, IgG antibodies) could indicate some level of immunity to COVID-19, more research is needed on this subject. Even if antibody testing is conducted, the result should not change guidance on preventive steps to take. Everyone, regardless of test result, is still recommended to practice physical distancing and use protective equipment, like face masks.
Will my Healthfirst benefits cover Coronavirus (COVID-19) testing and evaluation?
Healthfirst is waiving co-pays for all diagnostic testing and evaluations related to coronavirus. This means that if your PCP or in-network provider orders a coronavirus test, your Healthfirst health plan will cover the cost for the test and the in-network provider visit related to the coronavirus evaluation. You will not be subject to any cost sharing for the test or the in-network provider visit.
Prescription Home Delivery
Mail Order Prescriptions:
Members can continue their current mail order arrangements and request a one-time refill for a 30-day supply of chronic medication while the State of Emergency is in effect in New York.
If You Use A CVS Pharmacy:
Members may contact their CVS pharmacy to arrange for a delivery, or transfer their existing prescriptions to a pharmacy that does provide delivery. For members going to a CVS Pharmacy, delivery fees will be waived.
Can I get back-up refills of prescriptions if I’m concerned about the spread of coronavirus?
At this time members enrolled in all Healthfirst plans may get a one-time refill for a 30-day supply of chronic medication while the State of Emergency is in effect in New York.
- This includes diabetic medication
- This excludes controlled substances, injectables, and intravenous infusions
Prevention And Treatment
What can I do to stay healthy?
The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to the virus that causes Coronavirus (COVID-19). Check the CDC website for up-to-date information.
Good health habits can also help prevent and fight coronavirus. You should:
- 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 aren’t available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Stay home when sick. This includes staying home from work, school, errands, and travel for at least 24 hours after a fever is gone.
- Cover a cough or sneeze with a tissue, throw the tissue in the trash and wash your hands.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces like phones, keyboards, and doorknobs.
- Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, drink lots of fluids, and eat nutritious food.
- Wear a face mask or face covering in public when social distancing
Additional Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resources
For benefit-related questions, please call the Member Services number on the back of your Member ID card.