Resuming regular care
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- Postponing regular care
- Medical visits
- Dental visits
- Vision visits
- Outpatient procedures
- Mental health visits
Should I still postpone preventive visits/routine checkups or specialist care?
No. Health screenings, immunizations, and annual checkups can all be safely resumed. If you regularly visit a specialist to manage a chronic condition, you should continue to keep those appointments.
It’s important not to fall behind on preventive care visits. Annual exams can help you:
- Understand your current health status
- Receive basic screening tests
- Get any needed immunizations
These exams also help your primary doctor see any health issues early on. This make it easier to treat and improve the outcome. Continuous care for existing medical conditions may help you manage your conditions and prevent worsening.
Some routine visits can be done virtually. Talk to your doctor about virtual visits. Ask what steps they are taking to protect you during in-person visits.
Is it safe to return to in-person medical visits?
Most medical offices are taking steps to protect you from COVID-19 while seeking medical care. This includes routine preventive visits and urgent care.
Before booking an in-person visit, call the office or clinic to ask about the steps they are taking. These can include:
- Requirements for mask-wearing by staff and visitors.
- Social distancing practices at check in, waiting areas, and exam rooms.
- Limits on the number of people who can be in the clinic at the same time.
- Screening questions and temperature checks for staff and visitors.
Before your appointment, you may get a call from someone at the clinic or office asking if you have symptoms of COVID-19. If you have any, you may be given specific instructions.
If you’re still worried about exposure to COVID-19, talk to your doctor about your options.
Is it safe to see the dentist?
Yes. Most dentists have resumed seeing patients in person. Call your dentist to confirm they are seeing patients in the office.
If they have not resumed appointments and you need to see a dentist, call the number on your dental ID card. Customer support will help you make an appointment with a network provider.
If you missed a six-month cleaning due to COVID-19 restrictions, you can see your dentist as soon as an appointment becomes available. You do not need to wait another six months.
Is it safe to resume visits to my eye doctor?
Yes. Many eye care offices and clinics are resuming in-person appointments. Virtual visits may still be available.
If you do resume in-person visits, follow the safety precautions below.
What can I do to stay safe at the doctor’s or dentist’s office?
Ask questions you may have about safety steps. For example, you may want to ask if you can you fill out any required forms online.
The following may also be good options to keep yourself protected:
- Wear a mask - Most clinics require that people wear masks. If you don't have one, your clinic may be able to provide you with one.
- Maintain social distancing - Stay 6 ft apart from others where possible. This includes in waiting rooms.
- Avoid frequently touched surfaces and items - Try to avoid contact with things like doorknobs, elevator buttons, or even office pens. If you can’t avoid contact, wash your hands or use a hand sanitizer afterward.
- Choose contactless check-in or touchless payment if available - Be sure to ask what options your office has.
- Ask about prescription options.
You can also check your plan Summary of Benefits or Evidence of Coverage for your plan’s pharmacy benefit. If you’re taking a maintenance medication, you can order an extended day supply through CVS Caremark.® Some Blue Shield plans allow extended day supply refills at retail pharmacies.
Don’t delay emergency care
Don’t be afraid to go the emergency room if you are experiencing a life-threatening or disabling condition. Ambulances and hospitals are also taking steps to ensure the safety of their patients.
If it’s not a true emergency, remember you have other alternatives for care. These include virtual visits and urgent care centers.
Can I get my outpatient procedure done?
Some outpatient procedures are still being performed. Check with your doctor about scheduling. You may need to take a COVID-19 test prior to a procedure. If so, you may then be asked to isolate until your procedure takes place.
We have extended the timeframes for prior authorization approvals up to 180 days from the time of the original requests. This applies to both in-patient and outpatient procedures. To confirm the details, you can call the customer service number on your member ID card.
What are the alternatives to picking up my prescriptions in person?
If your doctor is prescribing a maintenance medication, you can order an extended day supply through CVS Caremark®. This can be a 90- or 100-day supply depending on plan type. Some Blue Shield plans allow extended day supply refills at retail pharmacies. Check your plan Summary of Benefits or Evidence of Coverage for your plan’s pharmacy benefit.
Some pharmacies are waiving fees for home delivery. Visit your pharmacy’s website or call them to see if they offer free delivery. If available, use the drive-thru window or curbside services for pick up.
Can I continue seeing my mental healthcare provider?
If you already have a mental healthcare provider, you can continue to see them over the phone or by video. Your standard coverage and out-of-pocket costs apply.
Many providers are resuming in-person visits. Contact your provider to discuss which option may be best for you.
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.
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.
I don’t have a mental healthcare provider. How can I find one?
If you have a Blue Shield of California plan:
Clinicians that provide mental health care will vary based on your plan’s network. Please note: Your standard office visit copay applies to both virtual and in-person appointments. You can find a clinician by logging in to your Blue Shield account to use Find a Doctor.
- Log into your online account.
- Access the Find a Doctor tool.
- Within the tool, click Mental health.
Most of our commercial HMO and PPO members receive mental health services through the Mental Health Services Administrator (MHSA) network. To search for an MHSA mental healthcare clinician, follow the steps above in Find a Doctor and at step 3 you will be redirected to the MHSA provider search page. For virtual care, click Provider Search Telebehavioral on the left.
For PPO plans that do not have access to the MHSA network, you can find a provider for in-person sessions through Blue Shield’s provider network.. Again, follow the steps above, and your search results will display clinicians available in your plan’s network.
Many Blue Shield commercial plans include access to Teladoc Mental Health, where you can book a virtual visit with a mental healthcare provider. Copays will vary by plan. If you’re eligible for Teladoc Mental Health services, Teladoc will inform you of your cost prior to scheduling an appointment. NOT all plans have access to Teladoc Mental Health. If you’re not sure if you have access, log in to your online account or call the Customer Care number on your member ID card.
If you have a Blue Shield Medicare Advantage Plan and would like help accessing mental health care, call Customer Care at (800) 776-4466 (TTY: 711), 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Pacific time, seven days a week, from October 1 through March 31, and 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., weekdays (8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday) from April 1 through September 30. Our representatives can tell you how to access your mental health benefits.
If you have a plan with Blue Shield of California Promise Health Plan:
Blue Shield Promise Cal MediConnect Plan 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.
Cal MediConnect members can learn more about behavioral health services under Cal MediConnect.
Medi-Cal members can learn more about behavioral health services under Medi-Cal.
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Last updated: 8/15/2021