Updated Sept. 8, 2021
BCBSKS members can find answers to some common questions. We will continue to add to this list as more information is available.
Patients with COVID-19 have had mild to severe respiratory illness with symptoms of
- Fever of 100.4 or higher or chills
- Muscle or body aches
- Vomiting or diarrhea
- New loss of taste or smell
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Trouble breathing
- Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
- New confusion or inability to wake or stay awake
- Bluish lips or face
BCBSKS is in alignment with healthcare providers across the state by encouraging those who may be affected by the virus to "Call before you go!" Before seeking testing or treatment at a hospital or doctor's office, members should call and share their symptoms or utilize telehealth services to consult with a healthcare professional.
Moving forward, if you seek COVID-19 care from a doctor or hospital (also called a provider) who isn’t contracting (also known as a non-contracting provider) with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas, it may result in additional costs for you as the patient. Blue Cross will no longer be covering the full cost of COVID-19 testing and treatment provided by non- contracting providers. We will now pay the same amount that we pay for services at providers who do contract with us. This may result in a bill from the provider where you received care. Please be aware of this change. It is important to “know before you go.” Visit bcbsks.com/find-a-doctor or call 800-432-3990 (toll-free) to make sure your doctor or hospital is contracted with us. However, if you have a medical emergency, always seek care at the closest emergency room.
A vaccine is now available to all Kansans. In addition to receiving the vaccine, preventive actions, like avoiding close contact with people who are sick, wearing a mask, practicing safe social distancing and washing your hands often, are the best ways to prevent the virus. For more information about the COVID-19 vaccine, visit the KDHE website.
The COVID-19 vaccine initially was in limited supply, but Kansas has now moved into phase five, allowing all Kansans the ability to receive the vaccine.
- Phase one – healthcare workers and residents or patients of long-term care facilities, senior housing or LTC-supported independent living, workers critical to pandemic response continuity
- Phases two – persons aged 65+, those living or working in congregate settings, high-contact critical workers
- Phase three – persons aged 16-64 with severe medical risks, other critical workers
- Phase four – persons aged 16-64 with other medical risks
- Phase five – rest of the population aged 16-64
The vaccine is now available for children as young as 12 years of age.
Signing up for the vaccine is expected to take place on a local county level, not on a state level. KDHE recommends that eligible Kansans contact their local health departments to learn more about when they will begin to vaccinate phase two populations and how they will prioritize within that group or anyone remaining in phase one who has yet to receive the vaccine. Not every medical provider will be able to provide the vaccine. You can now view vaccine distribution locations in your area by using https://vaccinefinder.org/search/. Other helpful sites with county-specific information are https://www.vaccinespotter.org/KS/ and https://www.wibw.com/2021/01/17/covid-19-resources/.
The vaccine will be available to all Americans free of charge. The federal government is funding the cost of the vaccine. Certain vaccine providers may charge an administration fee for giving the shot, but that cost will not be passed on to the patient, regardless if they have insurance or not. BCBSKS will cover that cost for our members including the possible third dose of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines for those eligible. Any member that receives a bill for the administration fee for the vaccine should submit a claim to BCBSKS. Providers will be able to get reimbursed for the uninsured population through a government relief fund. For more information about the vaccine, visit the KDHE website.
Yes, the vaccine is safe and approved by the federal government for emergency use. Recently, the Pfizer vaccine was fully approved by the Food and Drug Administration. COVID-19 mRNA vaccines have gone through the same rigorous safety assessment as all vaccines before being authorized for use in the United States by the FDA. When it comes to safety, you can rest assured there have been no shortcuts. Researchers have studied vaccines for decades and they've found that our bodies recognize parts of the virus, and then can build a response (antibody) to protect us from the disease. This means the vaccine helps our bodies remember how to fight the virus if we're infected in the future. For more information, visit the KDHE website.
Many of the approved vaccines contain a series of two shots - the second shot given 21-28 days after the initial first shot. It is critical to receive the second shot in the allotted time frame for the vaccine to have maximum effectiveness. Currently, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is the only approved vaccine with one dose instead of two.
The federal government is working toward a goal for people to start receiving a COVID-19 booster shot beginning in the fall, with individuals being eligible starting 8 months after they received their second dose of an mRNA vaccine (either Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna). This is subject to authorization by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and recommendation by CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). FDA is conducting an independent evaluation to determine the safety and effectiveness of a booster dose of the mRNA vaccines. ACIP will decide whether to issue a booster dose recommendation based on a thorough review of the evidence. Booster shots or additional doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine have not been recommended or approved at this time.
Sometimes people who are moderately to severely immunocompromised do not build enough (or any) protection when they first get a vaccination. When this happens, getting another dose of the vaccine can sometimes help them build more protection against the disease. This appears to be the case for some immunocompromised people and COVID-19 vaccines. CDC recommends moderately to severely immunocompromised people consider receiving an additional (third) dose of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine (Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna) at least 28 days after the completion of the initial 2-dose mRNA COVID-19 vaccine series. In contrast, a “booster dose” refers to another dose of a vaccine that is given to someone who built enough protection after vaccination, but then that protection decreased over time (this is called waning immunity). HHS has developed a plan to begin offering COVID-19 booster shots to people this fall. Implementation of the plan is subject to FDA’s authorization and the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices’ recommendation. (Source: CDC)
COVID-19 mRNA vaccines have gone through the same rigorous safety assessment as all vaccines before being authorized for use in the United States by the FDA. These trials also included people from diverse racial and ethnic groups. When it comes to safety, you can rest assured there have been no shortcuts.
The COVID-19 vaccine doesn't contain the virus, nor does it contain anything that would cause a person to get infected with COVID-19. Instead, the vaccine works to enable your body and your immune system to defend itself against the virus.
Side effects from the vaccine are completely normal and a sign that the vaccine is working. It shows that your body is developing a response to fight COVID-19. It is not a sign that you have been infected. Like with anything introduced into your body, there could be mild side effects such as headache, vaccine injection site pain or fatigue. However, the vaccine has been designed to have as minimal side effects as possible. In fact, if you have any symptoms at all, they usually last for a day or two at most.
The currently authorized mRNA vaccines are 94% effective against preventing serious illness from the virus, as demonstrated in large studies that included people from diverse racial and ethnic groups. This is an incredibly powerful effectiveness rate, so you can feel good about it keeping you safe.
The COVID-19 vaccines that are currently available were studied across a population of diverse ages, races, and sexes and were found to be 94% effective. So, across the U.S., every family and neighborhood can expect effectiveness and protection. You can learn more about the vaccine specifics on the CDC website.
Most of the vaccines available require two shots. Like many childhood vaccines, getting both doses is crucial to the vaccine working. It's the same with the COVID-19 vaccine. The first shot starts to build immunity, the second shot ensures maximum protection. By getting both shots, we protect not only ourselves, but those around us. Currently, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine only requires one dose.
After getting vaccinated, continuing to social distance and wear face masks will prevent the spread of illness to others. Why? Because experts are still learning about the protection that COVID-19 vaccines provide in real-world conditions. So keep on masking and social distancing, you're doing the right thing.
Herd immunity is the ultimate goal, right? Yes, but that's achieved when a large portion of our entire population has been vaccinated. Current estimates are that at least 85% of our population will need to be vaccinated for COVID-19. Many adults have medical conditions that will prevent them from getting the vaccine even if they want it. So, it's up to us to keep them protected by doing our part and getting the vaccine for them.
COVID-19 has severe health risks, and we don't know yet how long natural immunity lasts. So, it's important to still get vaccinated even if you've had COVID-19 to reduce the risk of reinfection -- to protect yourself and others around you.
Getting the COVID-19 vaccine will help limit the risks of serious illness and death from the virus. As more people get vaccinated, the whole community becomes more protected.
BCBSKS coverage commitment includes waiving member cost-sharing (copays, deductibles) through the duration of the declared public health emergency for the following services:
- Medically necessary diagnostic tests related to COVID-19;
- Cost of visit to doctor's office, urgent care, telehealth, and emergency room used for diagnostic testing of COVID-19;
- Related services (flu tests, respiratory illness tests) provided during urgent care, emergency room, or in-person or telehealth provider visits that result in an order for or administration of a covered diagnostic test for COVID-19.
BCBSKS will not cover the cost of surveillance testing. Surveillance testing is a type of testing that helps determine how widespread the virus is within a community by testing randomly selected, non-symptomatic individuals within that community. It is not the type of testing ordered by a provider to determine if you have the COVID-19 virus.
Yes, BCBSKS will cover antibody testing at 100% with no cost to the member through the duration of the declared public health pandemic. Providers that are in the BCBSKS network will submit a claim on your behalf. If your provider is not in the BCBSKS provider network and will not file a claim for you, send an itemized statement (including your identification number, physician's name, service date, complete description of the services you received with charges for each service and diagnosis) from that provider along with a claim form (PDF) within 1 year and 90 days to: Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas 1133 SW Topeka Blvd. Topeka, KS 66629-0001 You will be reimbursed for covered services according to the benefits of your program.
BCBSKS will waive member cost-sharing (copays, deductibles) and pay for active COVID-19 treatment until the end of the declared public health emergency or December 31, 2021, whichever comes first. This includes coverage for treatment administered at a doctor’s office, telehealth, urgent care facility and emergency room, as well as inpatient hospital stays. This applies to fully insured members, along with those who receive their insurance through Medicare Advantage plans. Administrative Service Only (ASO) groups can choose to waive or not waive member cost share as of July 1, 2020. Please check your plan to see which applies for you.
If you are looking for a place to receive COVID-19 testing in Kansas, consult with your primary care provider or you can visit gogettested.com/Kansas for a list of testing sites near you.
BCBSKS is encouraging the use of telehealth/telemedicine. Given the nature of the COVID-19 outbreak, seeking in-person medical care may lead to further spreading of the virus. The use of telehealth/telemedicine will help lower the spread of germs and lessen the burden on the Kansas healthcare system. Please check with your doctor to see if he/she is set-up to do telehealth visits.
Telehealth and telemedicine are both terms that are used to describe virtual care. This type of care happens when video cameras and monitors are used to connect you to healthcare providers who are not located near you, meaning you don't have to travel to get the care you need. Some ways you can use telehealth to talk to a doctor include, but are not at all limited to: - Questions and diagnosis of common medical problems, such as headaches, digestive issues, sore throat - Follow-up appointments for chronic care - Virtual visit if you are unable to leave the house - Mental health services Services are available for any visit that is medically reasonable to be done using telehealth. The visit does not have to be specific to COVID-19 testing. Please check with your doctor to see if he/she is set-up to do telehealth visits. *BCBSKS members: Please check your contract for this benefit. Not all plans include telemedicine coverage.
A telehealth/telemedicine visit costs about the same as an in-person visit. Fully insured members are responsible for their cost-share (co-pay, deductible) for telehealth and virtual services, with the exception of treatment for COVID-19. BCBSKS will cover the cost of COVID-19 treatment provided by telehealth/telemedicine until the end of the declared public health emergency or December 31, 2021, whichever comes first. Administrative Service Only (ASO) groups can choose to waive or not waive member cost share as of July 1, 2020. Please check your plan to see which applies to you. *BCBSKS members: Please check your contract for this benefit. Not all plans include telemedicine coverage.
Yes, BCBSKS is encouraging patients and providers to lower the spread of disease and use social distancing technology such as telehealth, telephone, and/or e-visits. Members are responsible for their copay or deductible for all other telehealth visits.
Masks and gloves are not covered under any BCBSKS plans.