If you and your employees are struggling financially, looking after your routine health care may be the last thing on your minds. But, taking care of your overall health during the COVID-19 pandemic is an important part of your current and future wellbeing. Fortunately, there are resources available to help those who are facing financial challenges because of coronavirus. We encourage you to share these links and information with your team, friends, or family who may be looking for any additional help.
Health care tools
With financial stress and concern for our families, friends, and communities at the forefront of our minds, it’s important not to forget about our own health needs. Putting off your personal health can lead to more serious issues down the line and potentially put you at greater risk for health complications.
While fear of coronavirus might make you feel hesitant to go to the hospital, it’s critically important that you not delay when you are in need of care. Massachusetts state government, Partners HealthCare, and other top medical centers are reminding everyone that hospitals are doing everything possible to keep emergency departments clean and safe. If you are experiencing a medical emergency, you should call 911 or go to your local emergency department.
If social distancing and business closures have made it more challenging for you and your employees to attend doctors’ appointments or refill prescriptions, here are some tools that can relieve the stress of getting care.
While telemedicine, or virtual care, had been slowly growing in popularity before COVID-19 struck, this resource has now become a critical part of routine health care during the coronavirus crisis. Virtual health care is easy to access from the comfort of your home, which also helps reduce the spread of coronavirus.
Massachusetts and federal laws require most health plans to waive cost sharing for telemedicine services related to COVID-19. Many insurance companies are encouraging members to seek care virtually and have gone beyond this mandate to cover all telemedicine services during the pandemic. Find out if you and your employees have access to telemedicine by contacting your health plan or encouraging employees to reach out to their provider offices to learn what options they have available.
AllWays Health Partners members and Partners HealthCare patients may be able to access the following telemedicine services:
- Partners HealthCare On Demand. Members of AllWays Health Partners and Partners HealthCare patients in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire and Maine have access to Partners HealthCare On Demand, a virtual urgent care service. Partners On Demand is available 24/7 for urgent care needs. Members and patients can learn more about this service here, or sign up for an account now.
- AllWays on Teams. Providers in our network have access to AllWays on Teams, a virtual visit platform offered in partnership with Microsoft. Contact your provider to find out if they are offering telemedicine visits, whether through video or over the phone.
Prescription drug refills
For many people, prescription medications are an important part of maintaining good health. Getting medications delivered to your home can help maintain social distancing and make it easier to get your prescriptions when you need them. Contact your local pharmacy to find out what their delivery options are. For example, CVS Pharmacy makes it easy to get your prescriptions delivered when you sign up for text alerts or download their mobile app.
It’s also a good idea to ask your pharmacist or health care provider about getting a 90-day supply of your medications. Many health plans, including AllWays Health Partners, are expanding their pharmacy coverage to include early refills and a greater supply of certain maintenance prescription drugs. This can help reduce the number of pharmacy trips you need to make, and ensure you have your prescriptions on hand when you need them.
Behavioral health resources
Mental health is an important part of your overall wellbeing. Here are some helpful resources for soothing the stress, fears, and concerns that you and your employees might be feeling during the pandemic.
- National Alliance on Mental Illness. NAMI has created a comprehensive COVID-19 Resource and Information Guide with helpful advice and resources for issues ranging from feeling disconnected and lonely to getting financial and housing assistance. This guide is highly detailed and can help you find additional tools and resources beyond those included in this blog. A Spanish version is also available.
- Optum’s Behavioral Health Help Line (866-342-6892) provides free emotional support by trained mental health specialists 24 hours a day, seven days a week during this crisis. While Optum is AllWays Health Partners’ behavioral health partner, this service is free of charge and open to anyone impacted by COVID-19.
- Behavioral health member resources. Your insurer is a good source for behavioral health support and a gateway to behavioral health telemedicine. Check to see what tools they have available for behavioral health care. For example, AllWays Health Partners members can sign up to access Optum’s behavioral health member portal, which includes mental health resources and provides access to virtual visits with behavioral health providers. These virtual visits are also currently covered at no cost for AllWays Health Partners members.
- Online wellness tools. Your insurer may also offer an online health and wellness platform that members can use to find behavioral health information and get tips on reducing stress, staying active, and eating well while stuck at home. AllWays Health Partners members can access the CaféWell platform from the member portal and participate in physical challenges and live webinars. Check with your insurer to see if they offer any similar programs.
Many families are under financial pressure due to job loss or reduced work hours within the family. Here are a few programs that can provide food assistance for those in need.
- SNAP. If you’ve lost your job or work hours due to COVID-19 and need help buying food, you can apply for SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. SNAP benefits are given each month on a debit-like card, and can be used at grocery stores, convenience stores, and some farmers’ markets or co-op food programs.
- Project Bread. School lunches are an important resource for many families when it comes to feeding their children. Together with the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, Project Bread is providing families with access to free school meals while schools are closed. Kids and teens under the age of 19 are eligible for free meals at any of the more than 1,300 sites across Massachusetts. A full map with details specific to each location can be found here.
- The Greater Boston Food Bank. The Greater Boston Food Bank website includes a directory that can help you find food assistance in your community, including food pantries and community meal programs. The site also contains information about additional public resources available in Boston and Massachusetts.
- Health plan food assistance. Check with your insurer to find out if they offer any food assistance programs for members who may be having trouble eating well or accessing food due to the coronavirus. For example, as part of AllWays Health Partners’ Your Care Circle program, we partner with Community Servings, an organization that delivers medically-tailored, nutritious meals to chronically ill members with complex conditions. This program has been expanded during the pandemic to support members who fall into high-risk categories for COVID-19, including those who have tested positive or are currently under quarantine – all at no cost to the member.