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Helping your employees through a pandemic

Public health emergencies can feel overwhelming and isolating, and it may be difficult to understand where your organization fits into a response. Being proactive can make a huge difference for the comfort, security and safety of your employees and business operations.

What is Arkansas Blue Cross and Health Advantage doing for my employees?

  1. Covering diagnostic testing services, at no cost to our fully insured members. Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield and Health Advantage will cover, with no cost to our fully insured members, diagnostic testing services that meet primary coverage criteria for COVID-19 as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and determined by the enrollee’s healthcare provider, where it is not covered as part of the Public Health Service response. We also will ensure patient testing is done in close coordination with federal, state and public health authorities. Currently, the only recommended screening test for COVID-19 is the RT-PCR test. Any care needed once a diagnosis of COVID-19 has occurred will be handled like any other covered treatment for a medical condition
    Covering diagnostic testing at no cost.
  2. Covering virtual health (telemedicine) services to ensure access to care while reducing the opportunities for disease transmission. Given the nature of the COVID-19 outbreak, seeking in-person medical care may lead to further spreading of the virus. If your fully insured plan covers telemedicine services, we encourage the use of virtual health and will also facilitate member access and use of nurse/provider hotlines. Because of the high volume of calls, a longer than normal wait time should be expected. Regular copays will apply.You can also access the free UAMS HealthNow screening tool, UAMSHealth.com/healthnow 24 hours a day, seven days a week from a smartphone, tablet, laptop or computer.
  3. Waiving prescription quantity/supply limits or allowing for early refills to enable fully insured members to stock up on prescription medication due to shortages caused by COVID-19. We will increase access to prescription medications by waiving early medication refill limits on 30-day prescription maintenance medications (consistent with a member’s benefit plan) and/or encourage members to use their 90-day mail-order benefit. Arkansas Blue Cross and Health Advantage will also ensure formulary flexibility if there are shortages or access issues.
  4. Waiving prior authorization requirements (for fully insured members) for the treatment of COVID-19. There will be no prior authorizations for COVID-19 diagnostic tests and for covered services that meet primary coverage criteria and are consistent with CDC guidance.

Fully insured employer groups with Arkansas Blue Cross dental also have a teledentistry option during this unprecedented time. 

Arkansas Blue Cross has a plan for continuity of business during the pandemic

As the situation continues to develop, we may ask our own employees in select locations to work from home as a precaution. Please rest assured we have tested this scenario as part of our business continuity planning and we are equipped to maintain the high-quality customer service you have come to expect from us. Our customer service representatives are here to assist you. Read more about our business-continuity plan.

Trustworthy resources

One of the key themes of any public health emergency or disease outbreak? Misinformation. Getting insights and updates from trusted sources is the first step to managing any response.

Internationally, the World Health Organization (WHO) monitors disease outbreaks and pulls together resources across geopolitical borders. It funds and coordinates humanitarian responses and recommends actions to control high-threat infections.

For the latest on a global scale, check out the WHO emergencies page.

Within the U.S., the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) leads the overall response. The CDC coordinates throughout the country and globally to monitor, detect and investigate outbreaks.

For the latest on a national scale, reference the current COVID-19 information from the CDC.

In Arkansas, review the Arkansas Department of Health’s latest information.

What precautions can I take to keep my employees safe?

Encourage healthy habits.

Inform older adults in your office about any potential (or high) risks of contracting viruses.

Take all preventive measures to keep your workplace and employees healthy and safe, and encourage your employees to:

  • Cover their nose and mouth when they cough or sneeze (with a tissue or into the crook of their elbow/sleeve).
  • Avoid touching their eyes, nose or mouth.
  • Wash hands often with soap and water (or at least 60 percent alcohol-based hand sanitizer) for at least 20 seconds.
  • Stay home if they are sick.

Nurse24sm

Nurses are available 24/7 for fully insured customers to help employees understand medical tests or recent diagnoses; give advice on how to care for minor injuries or illnesses; help prepare for a doctor’s visit; understand the side effects of medications; and help employees make healthy choices in their daily life … at no extra charge. Call 1-800-318-2384.*

*Make sure your plan includes Nurse24 before encouraging your employees to use this service.

Virtual health

Virtual health (powered by MDLIVE) gives your employees access to medical help on their smartphone and/or computer  24/7 when they can’t see their primary care doctor in person. Ensure your plan includes access to virtual health services before promoting it with your employees. All fully insured Arkansas Blue Cross and Health Advantage groups have access to virtual health.

Direct employee care when it’s not an emergency through our Find Care tool.

Evaluate business travel. Are you sending employees to areas of concern listed on the traveler’s resource? Consider if it’s necessary to be in-person or if the trip can be postponed.

Develop, test, and implement a business continuity plan. This short overview from the Society of Human Resource Managers is a good starting place.

If you or an employee thinks they may have been exposed to a disease, please contact local health authorities. If it’s an emergency, please seek care immediately.