What to know about the Coronavirus (COVID-19)
Aetna Better Health of Maryland is watching the global COVID-19 outbreak closely, as it changes from day to day. We rely on trusted sources for information about the virus. These include the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO). Read on to learn more about:
- The virus and tips to help you stay healthy
- What we’re doing to protect the health and safety of our members and employees
*This content doesn’t replace your doctor’s advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always talk with your doctor or other health care provider.
Questions about the virus
What is COVID-19?
This virus causes respiratory illness. It affects the organs you use for breathing, like the nose, throat and lungs. The virus has infected and caused death in thousands of people worldwide. It started in Wuhan, China. Now it has spread to the United States. You can visit the CDC website to get advice and warnings about travel.
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
Some common signs include:
- Respiratory symptoms
- Shortness of breath
- Trouble breathing
In more severe cases, the virus can cause:
- Severe acute respiratory syndrome
- Kidney failure
Those at higher risk for getting a lower respiratory tract illness include:
- People who have heart and lung disease
- People who have a weakened immune system
- Older adults
How does COVID-19 spread?
The virus spreads through the air. This usually happens when someone coughs or sneezes. It can also spread with close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands.
What’s the name for the disease caused by the new coronavirus?
WHO calls the disease “COVID-19.” This is short for “coronavirus disease 2019.”
Questions about protecting yourself
How can you protect yourself and others from COVID-19?
We don’t have vaccines to protect against COVID-19 yet. But you may be able to lower your risk of getting it. Try these tips:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Stay home if you are sick or have cold-like symptoms
- If you share a workstation or phone with other employees, use cleaning wipes before and after use.
The CDC has more tips on washing your hands. Doing it the right way can help protect yourself and others.
What should you do if you think you or someone else has the virus?
Most people with common COVID-19 will get better on their own. We have no treatments for the virus. But these tips can help ease the symptoms if you’re mildly sick:
- Take pain and fever medicine. Be sure to ask your pharmacist how this may affect other medicines you take. Caution: The CDC and American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) advise not giving aspirin to children.
- Use a room humidifier or take a hot shower.
- Drink plenty of liquids.
- Stay home and rest.
Are you worried about your symptoms? Just call your health care provider. Then follow their advice. If you can’t get to the doctor:
- Call 1-855-2362 if you have Teladoc®. You can talk with someone 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Or go to www.Teladoc.com/aetna.*
- Learn more about MinuteClinic® Video Visits in 40 states and in Washington, D.C.
*Teledoc is only in some states and for some conditions. Other limits apply. To receive these services, you’ll be connected to a trusted third-party provider.
Does getting the flu or pneumonia shot lower your risk of getting COVID-19?
No, these shots don’t lower your risk of getting COVID-19. But we don’t have treatments for COVID-19. So, you’ll want to get shots for other lung infections, like flu, pneumonia and whooping cough. This is very important for people who have:
- Weakened immune systems
- A more serious illness
Shots help prevent illness. This lowers the burden on health care providers. And it enables them to focus on COVID-19 right now.
The CDC recommends testing for anyone:
- With symptoms of COVID-19, returning from a CDC “Level 2” or “Level 3” advisory area
- In contact with someone suspected or confirmed of having the virus within the last 14 days
How can I get a COVID-19 test?
Do you have symptoms or think you’ve been exposed to the virus? You’ll want to call your health care provider or the state Department of Health for testing. The tests are likely nasal swabs that a lab will check for the virus. MinuteClinics and CVS Pharmacy® stores aren’t currently able to do testing. The CDC says that people can get testing with a doctor’s approval.
Does Aetna Better Health of Maryland cover testing for COVID-19?
So far, the CDC and public health labs have done the testing at no charge to people or health plans. We’ll cover testing the CDC recommends for COVID-19. And we’ll do so based on the terms of your benefit plan (for example, the usual copays). You won’t need precertification.
Am I at risk for COVID-19 from shipped packages or products?
The risk of spreading the virus is likely very low from products or packaging:
- Shipped over a period of days or weeks
- At air temperature
This is because the virus doesn’t survive very well on surfaces.
We’re still learning about COVID-19 and how it spreads. We don’t know if this virus will act the same way as other coronaviruses, like:
These have caused severe illness in people. We can use what we’ve learned from them to guide us.
Coronaviruses spread most often through respiratory drops when people cough or sneeze. There is no proof that COVID-19 spreads with shipped goods. People haven’t linked any cases of the virus in the United States to shipped goods.
You can check the CDC Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) website to stay up to date on this topic.
Questions about plans to prepare for COVID-19
What is Aetna Better Health of Maryland doing to get ready for the possible increase of COVID-19?
We’re watching the situation closely. We’re also preparing for a possible increase of the virus. Right now, teams are:
- Working together to keep meeting the needs of the members we serve
- Giving travel, work-from-home, and other advice to help employees stay safe and healthy
- Working with public health organizations and other experts like the CDC to let people know how we’ve prepared for emergencies and what we can do to help
Does Aetna Better Health of Maryland have a plan for pandemics?
We have strong plans to help ensure we can keep supporting our members. Here are some of these plans:
- Increase our ability to move staff to work-at-home arrangements to provide support for call, claim and clinical services
- Work closely with our vendors to be sure plans are in place and realign work, as needed
- Increase the flexibility of our policies to lower any barriers to care and comply with government orders
- Help providers and network partners focus on patient care
- Limit travel that isn’t necessary
- Promote a healthy workplace and build preventive measures
- Partner with our teams to guide employees in staying safe and healthy
What is MinuteClinic doing to prepare for patients who may have COVID-19 symptoms?
CVS Health and MinuteClinic are working closely with local health departments. When we see the symptoms of a respiratory illness, we ask the person about recent travel. Where did they travel? And when?
Then we look at the risk factors. This helps us determine their risk of exposure to COVID-19. We may also advise them to see their health care provider, if they haven’t already. At this time, we don’t have a test for COVID-19 in MinuteClinics.
MinuteClinic offers Video Visits† in 40 states and in Washington, D.C. These visits can be a good way to assess and treat viruses from the comfort of home. It also helps lower the risk of getting other viruses.
†Insurance doesn’t cover MinuteClinic Video Visits at this time.
What is Aetna Better Health of Maryland doing about possible drug shortages related to COVID-19?
We don’t see any problems that will affect our ability to fill prescriptions, now or in the near future. We always ask members to refill maintenance medicines in a timely manner. These are medicines that you need every month for chronic or long-term conditions.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is also watching any medicine:
- Made in China
- That relies solely on active ingredients from China
The FDA has asked more than 180 drug makers to tell them about any problems with supplies.
Questions about claims and coverage
Is Aetna Better Health of Maryland planning to be flexible about prescription refills?
Members are allowed to receive a one-time early refill of up to a 30-day supply for all medications. Aetna Better Health of Maryland will also allow members to fill up to a 90-day supply for all maintenance medications except specialty medications. Access to the 90-day supply applies to patients who are getting medications filled at a retail pharmacy or through their mail order pharmacy benefit. Members may continue to obtain their Specialty medications through CVS Specialty Pharmacy where up to a 30-day supply will be mailed to the member’s home or provider’s office at no additional charge to the member.
How will Aetna Better Health of Maryland handle claims from a member in a health care facility?
We would handle the claim in the same way as usual. This is based on the terms of the benefit plan. It may also include any changes, as a result of the pandemic.
How will Aetna Better Health of Maryland code and pay a claim in this situation?
- A member stays in the hospital for observation or testing.
- Their health care provider has recommended it.
- The test for COVID-19 is negative.
We would handle the claim in the same way as usual. This is based on the terms of the benefit plan. It may also include any changes, as a result of the pandemic. We advise that members who aren’t sick self-quarantine at home, if possible. This helps protect them from other illnesses. It also allows space in the hospital for those who are truly sick.
Will Aetna Better Health of Maryland waive deductibles and cost sharing for certain levels of care?
Self-funded plan sponsors control their own benefit designs. So, they’d need to decide for their plans.
Will Aetna Better Health of Maryland open access to in-network levels of care on out-of-network providers during this pandemic?
We’re looking at this virus the same way we look at other disasters, like hurricanes, floods or wildfires. Unlike these disasters, COVID-19 isn’t limited to one geographic area. This makes it more complicated.
Our goal is to provide care to members in the best ways possible. So, we’re working with both in-network and out-of-network providers. As we think about network status, we have to consider a lot of different things, like
- Geographic areas
- The volume of people seeking services
- Available appointments
Where can you get more information?
You can learn more about COVID-19 at these links: