COVID-19 (Coronavirus) and What You Need to Know About It

Greg Sweat, M.D. — March 10, 2020

You may be experiencing information overload from the influx of conversation and news coverage about the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19. It can be hard to get a clear picture of what it is, how you can protect yourself, and how to get tested if you think you might have the infection. In this post, I hope to answer these questions and, more importantly, share the steps Blue KC is taking to ensure our members’ access to testing, medications and virtual care.

We know outbreaks like this can be overwhelming and cause anxiety. Blue KC is here to help.

What is the Coronavirus?

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that cause illnesses ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases. This “novel,” or new, coronavirus is a specific strain of this family, which was first identified in humans in the Wuhan region of China in December of 2019. Healthcare officials refer to this strain as COVID-19, though you may also see it referred to as the novel coronavirus. In this post, we’ll refer to it as COVID-19.

Symptoms of COVID-19 are similar to the symptoms of a cold, the flu and other respiratory illnesses including fever, cough and difficulty breathing. The majority of COVID-19 infections are accompanied by these mild symptoms.

How can you protect yourself from COVID-19?

Like the flu or common cold, COVID-19 is spread through everyday contact including touch, coughs or sneezes. It’s important you practice healthy habits to protect yourself and others from COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses:

  • Wash your hands regularly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. One helpful trick is to wash your hands for the length of the ‘Happy Birthday’ song, twice over.
  • Cover your mouth and nose while coughing and sneezing and avoid doing so into your hands.
  • Stay at least three feet away from anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness, such as coughing and sneezing.
  • Refrain from touching your eyes, nose and mouth to avoid potentially transferring the virus from your hands.

Note that if you suspect you may have symptoms of the COVID-19 virus, or any other respiratory illness, you should contact your medical provider immediately to align on treatment and steps to prevent spreading the potential infection to others.

Blue KC is here to help

  • Blue KC will cover testing for COVID-19 – If your doctor thinks you might have COVID-19, they will determine whether you should be tested for the infection. Blue KC will cover the COVID-19 diagnostic test, consistent with CDC guidance, with no cost share to the member.
  • Blue KC will eliminate prior authorizations for COVID-19 services – Prior authorizations will be waived for diagnostic tests and for covered services that are medically necessary and consistent with CDC guidance if diagnosed with COVID-19. Blue KC will also make dedicated clinical staff available to address inquiries related to medical services, ensuring timeliness of responses related to COVID-19.
  • Blue KC will waive early medication refill limits – Blue KC will waive early medication refill limits on 30-day prescription maintenance medications. This is consistent with the CDC recommendation to keep a 1-month supply of all prescription medications on hand. Members will not be charged any additional fees for early refills.
  • Blue KC has expanded virtual access to doctors – Blue KC encourages all members to use their access to virtual visits with primary care providers, where and when available. This will allow doctors to monitor members at home, minimizing the spread of infection, and easing the burden on emergency rooms and clinics.

Seeking Virtual Healthcare

Blue KC Virtual Care is available today to all members 24/7 through Amwell, our virtual care provider. We highly recommend members take advantage of this service as another form of protection to avoid close contact with others who may be sick. Take the following steps to use your virtual care benefits: 

  1. Download the Blue KC Virtual Care App – Blue KC Virtual Care allows you to schedule and see a doctor or behavioral health therapist from your phone, tablet, or computer, from home, the office, or while traveling. It’s fast, easy, and available 24/7. The Blue KC Virtual Care App is currently available on the Apple App Store and Google Play.
  2. Enroll – Create an account in a few simple steps. Be sure to include your Blue KC insurance information when creating your account. Your information is stored securely.
  3. Choose A Doctor – View available doctors along with their experience and ratings, then select one.
  4. Visit – Engage in a secure live video visit directly from your desktop or mobile device in high-quality streaming video.

Additional Resources

The situation with COVID-19 is constantly evolving and Blue KC is here to help make sense of the ever-changing news. We’ll be sharing updates through our COVID-19 website .

You can also visit the CDC website and the Kansas City government website for updates on outbreaks, travel bans and more. If you would like to receive updates about what the City is doing in response to COVID-19, text COVID to 888777.