Health Benefits

COVID-19: What Our Health Plans Are Doing

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Navigating and adapting to life with the COVID-19 pandemic can be trying at times. And your medical care should be the least of your worries.

Virtual visits increase in pandemic; digital resources readily available

From routine visits that are now conducted virtually to mail-order prescriptions, digital resources online, and member outreach, our CalPERS health plans are working diligently to ensure your needs are met.

During a recent stakeholder update, CalPERS Chief Medical Officer Dr. Julia Logan discussed telehealth, getting prescriptions, and mental well-being actions to keep members safe and healthy.

“Health Plans and providers are also working to navigate this new phase of reopening and are working incredibly hard to ensure that they are meeting member needs in the safest possible way.” Dr. Logan said. “California hospitals and surgery centers have now resumed nonemergency surgeries and procedures. And we are glad to see this is happening with our plans, and extra precautions are being put into place such as pre-procedure testing, and appropriate safety and hygiene protocols such as universal masking, and reconfiguring facilities, including waiting areas and cafeterias, to ensure safe environments that promote physical distancing and prevent crowds.

“Telehealth utilization continues to be much higher than prior to this pandemic, and we are tracking this with our health plans,” Dr. Logan continued. “For example, Kaiser has gone from 15% virtual visits pre-pandemic, to 80% virtual visits during the pandemic.”

She added, given the convenience and increased safety, telehealth for certain types of care may be here to stay.

“Several health systems and plans are starting to take a look at what kinds of visits can be done via phone or video visits in the longer term,” Dr. Logan said. “Some visits and types of care obviously can’t and shouldn’t be done via telehealth, and plans are working to make sure members are coming in to their provider for those visits.”

Your Prescription Medication

We’re also coordinating with our plans and our pharmacy benefit manager, so you have access to the medications you need and receive them without interruptions.

“The plans have also been actively promoting their mail-order service to members, and there is no additional cost for delivery,” Dr. Logan noted.

We continue to coordinate with our plans so members have access to medications they need and receive them quickly and without interruption.

Your Mental Well-Being

Mental health is just as vital as your physical health, and we continue to ensure that our plans are offering behavioral health support to you.

“Plans are connecting members with online resources or apps for mental health, emotional wellness, stress, social isolation, coping tools, and more,” Dr. Logan said. “For example, UnitedHealthcare is offering a free emotional support helpline for all people impacted by COVID-19, and Anthem has provided access to a free digital hub to help its members with the stress resulting from COVID. I encourage you to check out these resources.”

“We will continue to engage with our plans and be in regular contact with state and local health officials on the latest guidance, and keep you all informed as well,” she added.

For more information about what your health plan is doing, visit the plans and rates page on the CalPERS website.