COVID-19: Tips and resources for higher risk members

Check in with your doctor to continue managing your health. This includes going to regularly scheduled in-person or telehealth visits.

Your care and coverage 

We’re focused on making sure you get the care you need.

Remember: Do not stop taking any medications without speaking to your doctor. This is especially important if you have other health conditions.

Visit our coverage pages for general info about what your plan covers: 

 

Your plan may also give you access to more programs and benefits to support your health:

  • A team of nurses who are ready to help you manage your health condition.
    • If you have a plan with Blue Shield of California, call (877) 455-6777 [TTY: 711] Monday to Friday, 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Pacific time. 
    • If you have a plan with Blue Shield of California Promise Health Plan, call (877) 702-5566 [TTY: 711] Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Pacific time. 
  • Plans with pharmacy benefits provide:
    • Extended supplies of your maintenance medications through our mail service pharmacy. If you have a Medicare Advantage, Cal MediConnect, or Medi-Cal plan, you can also fill this through a local retail pharmacy. 
    • Early refills on your prescriptions (if there are refills available with your prescription)
    • Access to network retail pharmacies that are waiving fees for home delivery of prescriptions
  • Virtual coaching programs that can help you maintain and improve your health

Call the Member Services number on your member ID card to find out if you have access to the benefits above. 

 

We can help you find other resources to manage your health

Be sure to speak with your doctor about whether you may need any equipment to manage your other health conditions. This may include:

  • A blood pressure cuff to check your blood pressure
  • A pulse oximeter to check your blood oxygen levels
  • A blood glucose meter to check your blood sugar levels

If you need help, Member Services can provide you with information about:

  • Transportation to see your doctor
  • Your coverage for supplies to support your health (like those above) and where to get them

Call the Member Services number on your member ID card to learn more. 

 

Guidance for specific conditions

The following is based on information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and is meant for information purposes only.* Please speak to your doctor about your specific health needs.

  • Asthma (moderate to severe)
    Moderate-to-severe asthma may put people at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19.
     
    Actions to take
    • Follow your Asthma Action Plan
    • Keep your asthma under control
    • Continue your current medications. These include any inhalers with steroids in them
    • Know how to use your inhaler
    • Avoid your asthma triggers
    • If possible, have another member of your household who doesn’t have asthma clean and disinfect your house for you. When they use cleaning and disinfecting products, have them:
      • Make sure that people with asthma are not in the room
      • Limit use of disinfectants that can cause an asthma attack
      • Open windows or doors and use a fan that blows air outdoors
      • Always follow the instructions on the product label
      • Spray or pour spray products onto a cleaning cloth or paper towel. This is instead of spraying the product directly onto the cleaning surface (if the product label allows)

     

    Why you might be at higher risk

    COVID-19 can:
    • Affect your nose, throat, and lungs
    • Cause an asthma attack
    • Possibly lead to pneumonia and serious illness.
  • Chronic lung disease

    Chronic lung diseases include:

    These may put people at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19.

     
    Actions to take
    • Keep taking your current medications. These include those with steroids in them.
    • Avoid triggers that make your symptoms worse.

    Why you might be at higher risk
    Data from similar infections shows COVID-19 might cause flare-ups of chronic lung diseases. This can lead to severe illness.

     

  • Chronic kidney disease being treated with dialysis

    Chronic kidney disease being treated with dialysis may increase a person’s risk for severe illness from COVID-19.


    Actions to take

    • If you are on dialysis, you should NOT miss your treatments.
    • Contact your dialysis clinic and your doctor if you feel sick or have concerns.
    • Plan to have enough food on hand to follow the KCER 3-Day Emergency Diet Plan for dialysis patients. This is in case you can’t keep your normal treatment schedule.


    Why you might be at higher risk

    Dialysis patients are more prone to infection and severe illness because of:
    • Poor immune systems
    • Treatments and procedures to manage kidney failure
    • Coexisting conditions such as diabetes
  • Diabetes

    Diabetes may put people at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19. This includes type 1, type 2, and gestational.


    Actions to take:

    • Continue taking your diabetes pills and insulin as usual.
    • Test your blood sugar every four hours. Keep track of the results.
    • Make sure that you have at least a two-week supply of your diabetes pills and insulin.
    • Follow the sick day guidelines for people with diabetes.


    Why you might be at higher risk:

    People with diabetes whose blood sugar levels are often higher than their target are more likely to have diabetes-related health problems. Those health problems can make it harder to overcome COVID-19.

  • Liver disease

    Chronic liver disease, including cirrhosis, may increase risk for serious illness from COVID-19.


    Actions to take:

    • Take your medications exactly as prescribed.


    Why you might be at higher risk
    Severe illness caused by COVID-19 and the medications used to treat some severe consequences of COVID-19 can cause strain on the liver. This is particularly true for those with underlying liver problems. People living with serious liver disease can have a weakened immune system. This can leave the body less able to fight COVID-19.

     

  • People aged 65 years and older

    Older adults, 65 years and older, are at higher risk for severe illness and death from COVID-19


    Actions to take:

    • Take your medications for any underlying health conditions exactly as prescribed.
    • Follow the advice of your doctor.
    • Develop a care plan of your health conditions and current treatments.
    • Prepare yourself to stay home for long periods using this checklist.


    Why you might be at higher risk:
    Eight out of 10 deaths reported in the U.S. have been in adults 65 years or older. Risk of death is highest among those 85 years or older. The immune systems of older adults weaken with age. This makes it harder to fight off infections. Also, older adults commonly have chronic diseases. These can increase the risk of severe illness from COVID-19.

     

  • People who live in a nursing home or long-term care facility

    Many cases of COVID-19 are among older adults living in nursing homes or long-term care facilities.

    Actions to take:

    • Carefully follow your facility’s instructions for infection prevention.
    • Tell staff right away if you feel sick.
    • Ask your caretakers about what’s being done to protect you and your loved ones. This includes if and how they are limiting visitors.


    Why you might be at higher risk
    Nursing homes and long-term care facilities are communal. People living in them are generally older adults with underlying medical conditions. Both these factors can mean higher risk of infection and severe illness from COVID-19.

     

  • Poor immune system
    Many conditions and treatments can cause a person to have a poor immune system. This includes:


    Actions to take:

    • Continue any recommended medications or treatments and follow the advice of your doctor.
    • Call your doctor if you have concerns about your condition or feel sick.


    Why you might be at higher risk:
    People with a poor immune system find it harder to fight viruses like COVID-19. Knowledge is limited about the virus that causes COVID-19. But there is concern that you may remain infectious for longer than other COVID-19 patients.

     

  • Serious heart conditions
    Serious heart conditions include:
    • Heart failure
    • Coronary artery disease
    • Congenital heart disease
    • Cardiomyopathies
    • Pulmonary hypertension
    These may put people at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19.


    Actions to take:

    • Take your medication exactly as prescribed. Continue angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors (ACE-I) or angiotensin-II receptor blockers (ARB) as prescribed by your doctor for indications such as heart failure or high blood pressure. This is recommended by current clinical guidelines.
    • Make sure that you have at least a two-week supply of your heart disease medications. These may include those to treat high cholesterol and high blood pressure.
    • People with hypertension should continue to manage and control their blood pressure. They should take their medication as directed.


    Why you might be at higher risk:
    COVID-19, like other viral illnesses, can damage the respiratory system. It makes it harder for your heart to work. For people with heart failure and other serious heart conditions, this can make COVID-19 symptoms worse. 

     

  • Obesity

    Obesity is defined as a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or above. It puts people at higher risk for complications from COVID-19.


    Actions to take:

    • Take your medications for any underlying health conditions exactly as prescribed.


    Why you might be at higher risk:

    Severe obesity increases the risk of acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). This is a serious breathing problem. It can be a major complication of COVID-19. It can make it difficult for a doctor to provide respiratory support. People living with severe obesity can have many serious chronic diseases and underlying health conditions. These can increase the risk of severe illness from COVID-19.

Home infusion services 

If you normally receive drug infusion services in a facility, talk with your doctor. You should ask about whether these services should be continued and, if so, done in your home instead. 

If your doctor says you can safely receive these services at home, they can order home infusion services. If you have questions or need help finding a home infusion provider, call Member Services. 

 

Ways to manage your stress

It’s important to manage any underlying condition you may have. But you should also manage your mental well being, too. Try these tips: 

1. Practice deep-breathing exercises daily
 When you breathe deeply, it sends a message to your brain to calm down. It’s one of the best and easiest ways to reduce stress.

2. Do some light exercise (if possible) 
Studies show exercise improves mental health. Staying active while social distancing can be tough. But at-home exercises and guided lifestyle programs through Wellvolution can help in the meantime. 

3. Use technology to talk to and see your loved ones
Try to stay in touch with friends and family even if you can’t see them in person. Phone, messaging, video calls, and social media are all tools you can use. Now may be a great time to connect with old friends, too. 

4. Take a day or two a week to be social media/media free
Limit the time you spend watching, reading, or listening to coverage of the outbreak. Consider pausing “breaking news” alerts on your phone, too. 

 

Mental health benefits

Need extra support? We’re here to help. We’ve expanded member access to virtual mental healthcare options. You can speak with a mental health provider by phone or video call. 

I have a Blue Shield plan

Most of our commercial HMO and some PPO plans provide mental health services through the Mental Health Services Administrator (MHSA) network. Check the back of your Blue Shield member ID card for a mental health customer service phone number. You can also search the MHSA network. Click Provider Search Telebehavioral on the left to find specialists who can provide virtual care. Your standard office visit copay applies to both virtual and in-person appointments.

For PPO plans which do not use the MHSA network, log in to your Blue Shield account. You can then use Find a Doctor to search for a network mental healthcare provider. Please call ahead to find out if the provider sees patients over the phone or online. Your standard office visit copay applies to both virtual and in-person appointments.

Blue Shield members with access to Teladoc can also book a virtual visit with a mental healthcare provider. Teladoc mental health visits are available for $0 copay through December 31. Log in to your online account to see if you have Teladoc. This service lets you speak to a mental healthcare provider by phone or video chat.  Some self-funded employer-sponsored plans may not include access to Teladoc. If you’re not sure if you have access, please call the Member Services number on your member ID card.

If you have a Blue Shield Medicare Advantage Plan, call Member Services at (800) 776-4466 [TTY: 711]. Representatives can tell you how to access your mental health benefits. 

I have a Blue Shield Promise plan

Blue Shield Promise Cal MediConnect and Medi-Cal members can receive telehealth visits through Beacon Health. For more information, call (855) 765-9701 [TTY: 711] Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Pacific time. 

If you have a Blue Shield Promise Medicare Advantage Plan, call Member Services at (800) 544-0088 [TTY: 711] 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. seven days a week from October 1 to March 31, and 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. weekdays (8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday) from April 1 to December 31. Representatives can tell you how to access your mental health benefits. 

Additionally, Blue Shield of California Promise Health Plan members can book a virtual visit with a Teladoc mental healthcare provider through December 31 also for a $0 copay. To get started, call (800)-Teladoc (835-2362) [TTY: 711] 24/7 or visit the Teladoc page

Important: Telehealth is not right for all conditions. If you’re in crisis or having suicidal thoughts:

  • Call 911
  • Go to the nearest emergency room
  • Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273-8255. You can also use the Crisis textline by texting “Home” to 741741.

Get digital tools at Wellvolution**
Blue Shield and Blue Shield Promise members with access to Wellvolution can access mental health apps. To filter by mental health, sign up at wellvolution.com and select “Reduce stress.” Options include Sanvello. This is one of the highest-rated apps around to manage stress and anxiety. 

 

Extra resources to help you

You may find some of the resources below useful: 

General: 


Diabetes:


Lung conditions:


Heart conditions:


Seniors:

COVID-19 Testing

Find out which COVID-19 tests are available to members and where to get tested.

Find testing info

Prevention tips

Know how COVID-19 spreads and what to do if you feel sick.

Find out

COVID-19 vs. the flu

Learn how flu and COVID-19 symptoms are similar and what you need to know to protect yourself.

Learn more

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*DISCLAIMER: THIS WEBSITE DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE
The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and other material contained on this website are for informational purposes only. No material on this site is intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.

** Medi-Cal, IFP grandfathered and some self-funded employer-sponsored plans do not have access to Wellvolution. If you’re not sure if you have access, call the Member Services number on your member ID card to find out.


Wellvolution is a registered trademark of Blue Shield of California. Wellvolution and all associated digital and in-person health programs, services, and offerings are managed by Solera, Inc., a health company committed to changing lives by guiding people to better health in their communities. Download Sanvello from the application store to get started today.

 

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Blue Shield of California Promise Health Plan has neither reviewed nor endorsed this information.

Blue Shield of California Promise Health Plan is an independent licensee of the Blue Shield Association. Blue Shield of California Promise Health Plan is a Medicare Advantage HMO plan with a Federal Government contract in California. Enrollment in Blue Shield of California Promise Health Plan depends on contract renewal.

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