Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) frequently asked questions
The CDC is your best resource for COVID-19
The COVID-19 situation continues to quickly evolve. Please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for the latest information on COVID-19.
To help take care of yourself and your loved ones, below are answers to common questions about COVID-19.
If you are feeling worried or stressed about COVID-19, there’s help. Call the Optum Emotional Support Help Line. You can reach it toll-free at 1-866-342-6892, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that can cause illness in both animals and people. The 2003 SARS outbreak, also known as severe acute respiratory syndrome, is a well-known coronavirus. In January of 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced a new coronavirus outbreak, now called COVID-19, which was first detected in China. For more information on COVID-19, please visit the CDC’s Situation Summary page.OR
This is an emerging virus, so there are still many unknowns, including how easily or effectively the virus is spreading between people. As with all respiratory viruses, it is advisable to limit close contact (within six feet) with an infected person. For the most updated information about COVID-19, visit the CDC’s Key Facts page.OR
Symptoms are similar to an upper respiratory infection and may include:
- Shortness of breath
For more information on symptoms for COVID-19, please visit the CDC’s Symptoms page.OR
If you believe you may have been exposed to the virus, call your primary care provider (or local public health agency) right away to ask for guidance prior to making an in-person visit. This will help limit exposure to the general public. For more information on what to do if you think you are sick with COVID-19, please visit the CDC’s What to Do If You Are Sick page.OR
You can be tested if your primary care provider or health care professional determines you should be tested for COVID-19 and orders the test. They should work with local and state health departments to coordinate testing. The most common place for collection of the specimen is a health care provider’s office or clinic. For more information on getting tested for COVID-19, please visit the CDC’s Testing for COVID-19 page.OR
Many health insurance companies across the country have stated that they will cover the full cost of any testing for COVID-19. However, it is a good idea to check with your specific insurance company to ask about coverage of the test.OR
At present, there is no specific treatment or vaccine for COVID-19. If you become infected, you will receive supportive care to help relieve symptoms. You can help prevent the spread of the virus by following the steps listed on the CDC’s What to Do if You Are Sick page.OR
Until there are more answers, you are advised to follow good prevention practices, including:
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for 20 seconds or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces, like your phone or computer.
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, and then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Stay home when you are sick.
For more information on how to protect yourself against COVID-19, please visit the CDC’s How to Protect Yourself page.OR
Currently, the CDC recommends that travelers avoid all nonessential travel to China, South Korea, Iran and most of Europe. This situation is evolving, so please visit the CDC’s Travel page for the latest guidance.OR
Yes. Medicare has more information here. If you have a Medicare Advantage plan, you may want to call your plan and ask how it will handle COVID-19 care.OR
The CDC says that now is a good time to assess individual and family preparedness but has advised that preparations do not need to go beyond what is needed for a natural disaster or an infrastructure disruption. Preparedness typically includes making a plan, making a kit and staying informed. Resources are available from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the CDC and the Red Cross.OR
In most cases there is no need. All major health plans have waived member cost sharing, including copays, coinsurance and deductibles for COVID-19 diagnostic testing provided at approved locations in accordance with CDC guidelines for all commercial insured, Medicaid and Medicare members. In addition, many self-insured customers are also choosing to implement similar actions.
This means that HSA funds are not required for COVID-19 diagnostic testing provided at approved locations in accordance with CDC guidelines. In the event that a plan is not waiving these costs, individuals will be able to use HSA funds for those costs without jeopardizing the qualified status of their high-deductible health plan.OR
As part of the COVID-19 readiness response, Optum Bank customers will continue to have full access to their respective funds, transactions and accounts. As an online bank with no physical branches, Optum Bank supports 24/7 access to accounts at optumbank.com and through the Optum Bank mobile app. There will be no interruption to online banking services, enabling account holders to view their balance and transactions, submit receipts and pay bills or reimburse themselves, or any additional functionality.OR
Per the CDC’s guidelines, social distancing is the practice of putting distance between yourself and other people to help COVID-19 from spreading in the community. It is especially important to practice social distancing to help protect people who are at a higher risk of getting sick.OR
Detailed Video Description Coronavirus 20009
[What are Coronaviruses?]
[Narrator:] Coronaviruses are a family of common viruses that can cause illness in both animals and people.
[Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS)]
Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome are two well-known coronaviruses.
In January of 2020, the World Health Organization announced a new coronavirus, now called COVID-19, which caused an outbreak of respiratory illness in the city of Wuhan in China’s Hubei Province.
We’re still learning about how this virus spreads, and rely on the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization for guidance.
Here’s what we know about COVID-19.
[How does COVID-19 spread?]
Currently, it is thought that it spreads mainly through respiratory droplets that are coughed or sneezed into the air by an infected person.
It may also spread when an individual touches an infected surface and then touches his or her mouth, nose or eyes.
[What are COVID-19 Symptoms?]
COVID-19 symptoms may be similar to a respiratory infection.
Primary symptoms may include: fever, cough and shortness of breath.
Some people, the elderly, the young or the immune-compromised, may experience complications including pneumonia, kidney failure and overwhelming infection, known as sepsis.
[How to help protect against COVID-19]
To best protect yourself from this coronavirus:
Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
Clean and disinfect frequently-touched surfaces, including your phone and computer.
Cover your nose and mouth with tissue when you cough or sneeze, then throw the tissue in the trash immediately.
For updated information, guidance and travel alerts, visit the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the World Health Organization.
We will continue to actively monitor public health resources to ensure we respond appropriately to the needs of our customers and members.
[Disclaimer: Source: US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). https://www.cdc.gov/ World Health Organization (WHO). https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019 ]
Watch the video to learn about COVID-19.
The information and therapeutic approaches in this article are provided for informational and/or educational purposes only. They are not meant to be used in place of professional clinical consultations for individual health needs.