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What you need to know about Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Continue to check this page often, we will be updating the information as it becomes available.


How your benefits will work

If you are a HealthLink State of Illinois health plan member:
COVID-19 diagnostic test and exam: Covered at 100%; no member cost share. This benefit is effective through January 11, 2023.
COVID-19 treatment: if you are diagnosed with COVID-19, your treatment will be covered at 100%, with no member cost share. This benefit is effective through January 11, 2023.
COVID-19 Vaccine: Covered at 100%; no member cost share. This benefit is effective through January 11, 2023.

You can also visit a doctor from home:
LiveHealth Online: Covered at 100%; no member cost share. Members can visit LiveHealth Online or download the LiveHealth Online app to start a video visit with a board-certified doctor, psychiatrist or psychologist. This benefit is effective through January 11, 2023.

Telehealth services: This benefit is effective through January 11, 2023. Telehealth services through electronic or telephonic method include medical consults, psychiatry, mental health treatment, substance use disorder treatment and related services.

  • In-network providers - Covered at 100%, no member cost share.
  • Out-of-network providers - subject to the same plan benefits as if they were rendered in an office setting; members will be responsible for any out-of-pocket expenses.

All other members:
HealthLink provides access to a network of doctors, hospitals and other healthcare facilities as part of a members' health plan. We do not make benefit and coverage decisions for the plan. We recommend that all clients follow federal mandates, as well as any state mandates that apply. The federal CARES Act requires most health plans to cover the COVID-19 vaccine and its administration at $0 member cost share during the national public health emergency. Members should contact their employer or benefit administrator to confirm the $0 cost share for vaccination; and to confirm coverage for COVID-19 testing and treatment.

About COVID-19

Here's some information you can use to help protect yourself and the people you care about. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is asking everyone to help reduce the risk of infections spreading. Check the CDC website for up-to-date information, especially if traveling.

What is coronavirus and COVID-19?

Coronavirus is a type of virus that causes respiratory illness - an infection of the airways and lungs. COVID-19 is a new strain of coronavirus. It's part of the same family of coronaviruses that includes the common cold.

What are the symptoms?

The most common early symptoms appear between 2 and 14 days after being infected. Symptoms can be mild to severe. They include fever, cough, and shortness of breath.

How does the virus spread?

Medical experts think that COVID-19 spreads from person-to-person through close contact, a cough, sneeze or kiss. However, since COVID-19 is a new disease, scientists around the globe are racing to learn more about it.


Prevention and treatment

How can I help protect myself?

The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to the virus that causes COVID-19. Check the CDC website for up-to-date information. If you're traveling, you'll want to visit the CDC travel page for their most current travel guidelines.

Good health habits can also help prevent and fight COVID-19. You should:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • If soap and water aren't available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when sick. This includes staying home from work, school, errands, and travel for at least 24 hours after a fever is gone.
  • Cover a cough or sneeze with a tissue, throw the tissue in the trash and wash your hands.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces like phones, keyboards, and doorknobs.
  • Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, drink lots of fluids, and eat nutritious food.

Do I need to wear a face mask?

It's best to follow the CDC's recommendations for using a facemask. CDC information for household members and caregivers can be found here.

What if I have symptoms?

Call your doctor if you develop a fever, have a cough, or have difficulty breathing. And let them know if you've been in close contact with a person known to have COVID-19. You can also check with your employer or benefit administrator to see if your plan offers telehealth benefits to see a doctor online. If you think you're infected, using telehealth helps to prevent spreading a virus.


Current Vaccines

Janssen/Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine

On Feb. 26, 2021, the FDA granted an Emergency Use Authorization for the COVID-19 vaccine produced by Janssen/Johnson & Johnson for prevention of COVID-19 infection in people 18 years or older. The decision was based on a large clinical trial that showed a single dose of this vaccine significantly reduced the risk of getting moderate to severe symptomatic COVID-19 infection compared to placebo. The vaccine works well in both older and younger adults but is still being studied in those under age 18.

As of Tuesday, April 13, the CDC and FDA have recommended a pause in the use of the vaccine out of an abundance of caution. A handful of cases of a rare and severe type of blood clot have been reported in people after receiving the J&J/Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine and are being investigated. As of April 13, 2021, no cases had been reported among the more than 180 million people who received the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines.

The CDC's website has more information about the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, including information about a very small number of reports of a rare and severe type of blood clot happening in people who have received the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine. Members who have questions about COVID-19 vaccines, should talk to their doctor.

Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine

On Dec. 11, 2020, the FDA granted an Emergency Use Authorization for the COVID-19 vaccine produced by Pfizer/BioNTech for prevention of COVID-19 infection in people 16 years or older. The decision was based on a large clinical trial that showed that two doses of this vaccine significantly reduced the risk of getting mild to severe symptomatic COVID-19 infection compared to placebo. The vaccine works well in both older and younger adults but is still being studied in children and adolescents under age 16 years.

Moderna COVID-19 vaccine

On Dec. 18, 2020, the FDA granted an Emergency Use Authorization for the COVID-19 vaccine produced by Moderna for prevention of COVID-19 infection in people 18 and older. The decision was based on a large clinical trial that showed two doses of this vaccine significantly reduced the risk of getting mild to severe symptomatic COVID-19 infection compared to placebo. The vaccine works well in both older and younger adults but is still being studied in those under age 18.

How will vaccines be distributed?

The CDC has recommendations about how vaccines should be phased in for all populations, but each state will have the ability to make some decisions about the distribution of vaccines based on their own circumstances. State health departments have their own information. Here's a link that leads to the states' plans and to the National Academy for State Health Policy.

How can I find a COVID-19 vaccine?

You can go to this page on the CDC web site and scroll down to the section entitled, "What you can do right now" to find COVID-19 vaccines near you.

When will COVID-19 vaccines be available for children?

The vaccines have yet to be tested in children under 12. Trials in teens started in late 2020. Children don't typically get vaccines until they are tested in children, FDA approved and authorized by the CDC and ACIP for their age group. The CDC lists authorized age groups for vaccines here.

Can pregnant or breastfeeding individuals receive the COVID-19 vaccine?

Yes, pregnant or breastfeeding individuals can be given the vaccine. Additional guidance is provided by the CDC and the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

The CDC is working closely with state, tribal, local, and territorial health departments to make sure vaccines are available to communities once large supplies are available. Several vaccines are in development and it is likely more than one will be approved, however they may get approved at different times. Widespread availability will also depend up on manufacturing capacity.

How do I know the new COVID-19 vaccines are safe once available?

Government and private companies are working together to develop safe and effective vaccines. Researchers are using past research on similar viruses and combining resources to reduce the time it historically has taken to research, develop, and produce vaccines. Many thousands of people of varying age, race, ethnicity, and different medical conditions have participated in the trials to see how effective and safe they are. The FDA and outside experts carefully review all of the clinical trial data when weighing approval of any new drug or vaccine. When the FDA has approved a vaccine for emergency use, the FDA has determined that the benefits of a vaccine outweigh the risk.

Why should I get a COVID-19 vaccine once one is available for me specifically?

A safe and effective vaccine will help reduce the chance that you get sick from COVID-19, and may help to reduce the spread of the virus, in turn, helping to conserve healthcare resources and help a return to more normal day-to-day activities, including work and school. Many thousands of people of varying age, race, ethnicity, and different medical conditions have participated in the clinical trials to see how effective and safe COVID-19 vaccines are. Illness from this virus can be severe in some people, leading to hospitalization and potentially, death. If you have questions or concerns about the COVID-19 vaccine, talk to your healthcare provider. When the FDA has authorized a vaccine for emergency use, the FDA has determined that the benefits of a vaccine outweigh the risk.

Is it possible to transmit the virus even after vaccination?

While the vaccine can eliminate symptoms in individuals, it's not yet clear that getting the vaccine will reduce someone's ability to still transmit an infection, even if they don't have symptoms. Information on whether the vaccine can prevent asymptomatic COVID-19 infections and the ability to spread the infection may be available early next year. As it is possible to have COVID-19 without knowing it, to avoid giving it to others, vaccinated people should continue to wear a mask, wash their hands frequently and observe social distancing.

Do fully vaccinated people still need to follow COVID-19 guidelines on masks and social distancing?

The CDC has developed guidance for fully vaccinated people that will be continue to be updated. Please go here for the latest information.

Will the COVID-19 vaccines protect against variants to the virus?

The CDC is following that issue closely. To learn more, go here.

Can I get the vaccine if I've already had COV D-19?

Yes, people can get the vaccine if they've already had the infection. Because some evidence suggests that people previously infected can be re-infected, they may benefit from vaccination. For this reason, vaccination should be offered to people regardless of history of prior symptomatic or asymptomatic COVID-19 infection.

Emotional and Mental Health Support for All Members

Psych Hub

HealthLink members also have access to a free web-based resource to support your mental health needs. Psych Hub offers a range of resources to help you and your family deal with pandemic-related stress such as social isolation, job loss and other mental health issues. Visit Psych Hub to take advantage of these free resources.


For more information, check the CDC website for up-to-date details and recommendations about COVID-19.

Other resources


Sources

  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: About 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) (January 28, 2020): www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/index.html
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Situation Summary (March 3, 2020) : www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/summary.html