Resources for Clinicians and Patients

What can health care systems do? Resources for clinicians and patients

Many of our stakeholders are mobilizing at the point of care (virtual or no) to share information with patients about vital social or financial community resources, including ensuring coverage for COVID-19-related care. When their hands are available, ask staff to share (and update) regional-specific resource information on topics related to...

Insurance Coverage and Codes for COVID-related Health Care Services

  • Medicare will cover coronavirus testing with no co-pay, as well as medically necessary hospitalization, and other visits related to COVID-19. Testing is covered when a doctor or other health care provider orders it, if patient got the test on or after February 4, 2020. Medicare Advantage plans are permitted to waive co-pays (check with your plan). Hospitalization will be covered if patient cannot be discharged due to quarantine. For additional guidance on coverage, see Medicare guidance here.
  • Some Medicaid plans and Commercial Health Plans may be required to provide coverage of COVID-related visits and testing with no co-pay. For example, on March 5th, California DMHC issued an All Plan Letter to commercial and Medi-Cal health plans with this guidance, available here.
  • Most insurances are expanding coverage for telehealth services. See this notice from CMS about covering all telehealth services in all areas under Medicare with permission granted to waive or reduce cost-sharing requirements.
  • An emergency ICD-10 code of U07.1 is assigned to the disease diagnosis of COVID-19 (WHO)

Pharmacy Delivery Services

  • Consider developing a list of local pharmacies about new home medication delivery policies. Several major pharmacies are waiving fees for home delivery services during the pandemic.

Vaccination, Testing, an Contact Tracing Scams/Exploitation

  • As of March 5, 2020, there is no vaccine for COVID-19 and a vaccine is not anticipated for approximately 18 months. The Federal Trade Commission has identified scams related to this topic. Patients/clients should not give personal information or payment to any entity (online or in person) offering COVID-related medical services or tests not directly ordered by their physician.
  • On June 26, 2020, The F.B.I. issued a statement that warned the public of fradulent COVID-19 antibody tests. They indicated that scammers advertising fake tests in an attempt to solicit individuals to give personal information that could lead to identity theft.
  • August 20, 2020: There is a new phone scam circulating where callers posing as COVID-19 contact tracers try to pry financial information, and/or other sensitive information such as social security number or immigration status.

Cross-Sector Resource Collections

  • The American Public Health Association's Spirit of 1848 Caucus and Human Impact Partners' Public Health Awakened network are actively compiling resources across sectors in a rapidly growing, living database.

Addressing Social Needs in Hospital Settings

Housing

Income Protections (employment, utility, & credit card concerns)

  • Some states are creating new rules about eligibility for unemployment insurance, state disability insurance, and paid family leave. Look at your state’s website or consult your medical-legal partnerships to find out what the rules are in your area. Here’s an example from California.
  • On March 13, 2020, Comcast announced a comprehensive COVID-19 response by offering its xfinity wifi free nationwide, offering unlimited data plans for customers, and no disconnect or late fees for those affected by the COVID-19 crisis.
  • Wirecutter, A New York Times company has released a guide of what services American banks are offering for individuals who may be unable to pay their credit card bills due to COVID-19.

Free and low cost broadband and cellular services for low-income patients to facilitate telehealth access

Cellular Service: All four of the major United States carriers have signed on to the FCC’s Keep Americans Connected Pledge. Under this agreement, carriers have agreed to take the follow action for at least the next 60 days: 1) Not terminate service to any residential or small business customers because of their inability to pay their bills due to the disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic; 2) Waive any late fees that any residential or small business customers incur because of their economic circumstances related to the coronavirus pandemic; and 3) Open its Wi-Fi hotspots to any American who needs them.

  • AT&T is currently offering home internet wireline customers unlimited data. New customers can subscribe to Access from AT&T for two months of free service. All public WiFi hotspots are open to anyone who needs them. AT&T will not terminate service of any wireless, phone or broadband residential or small business customer due to an inability to pay your bill. All late payment fees will be waived.
  • Verizon will not charge late fees or terminate service to customers who are experiencing hardships because of COVID-19 and cannot pay their bill in full.
  • Sprint is providing unlimited data for 60 days to customers with metered data plans effective 3/18/20.
  • T-Mobile is providing customers on smartphone plans unlimited data for 60 days effective 3/13/20. Customers should dial 611 on their T-Mobile phone if they have concerns about bill payments due to COVID-19.

Internet Service: Individuals can get no-cost, in-home internet for up to two months during the new coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak if they qualify for certain low-income internet programs or have a student living in the household. Here’s a list of the internet providers offering limited, no-cost internet services during the outbreak.

Telehealth

Telenutrition

Social Isolation

  • Collate resources in your community that may decrease social isolation for select patient populations. For example, the Institute on Aging Friendship line may be helpful to older adults who are able to participate on a phone call and are feeling isolated/anxious due to current conditions. They provide calls in English, Mandarin, Cantonese, and Spanish. Friendship Line number is 800-971-0016.

Resources Specific for Medicaid Populations

  • The Center for Health Care Strategies has compiled this compendium of resources aimed at lessening the impact of COVID-19 on Medicaid populations.

Advocacy Opportunities

Ensuring adequate resources in all areas in every community across the US to mitigate the harms to vulnerable populations will require advocacy from many stakeholders. Leaders from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and others have suggested a wide range of key policy targets, including:

  • Waivers of all co-pays and deductibles for COVID-19 related testing and treatment
  • Extra funding for community health centers and public health agencies to support emergency mobilization
  • Funding to support COVID-19 outreach to non-English speakers and homeless individuals
  • Moratoriums on evictions. See this memo from the National Housing Law Project
  • Funds to compensate hourly workers without paid leave for their loss of income when sick or staying home to take care of their children because of school closures
  • Expansion of unemployment insurance
  • Efforts to ensure free meals are available to children when schools are closed
  • Universal basic income

Information current as of August 20, 2020