What do you need to know about coronavirus?

Last Updated 4/1/2020

Health New England continues to monitor the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) on behalf of our members. We will update this page as more details develop.

Attention: Health New England is not accepting walk-ins at this time.

Our Member Services representatives are available to assist you over the phone. Learn how to Contact Us.

Is Health New England considered an “essential" business?

On Monday, March 23, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker issued an emergency order requiring all businesses that do not provide “COVID-19 essential services” to close their physical workplaces for a two-week period starting Tuesday, March 24, at noon. Health New England is considered an essential business. We will continue to serve our members, providers, employers and brokers without disruption.

Residents of Massachusetts and Connecticut are urged to stay home during this period and practice social distancing when necessary. To learn more about businesses that will remain open in Massachusetts and Connecticut, visit the following pages:

Is Health New England covering coronavirus testing and treatment for members?

Health New England is making policy changes according to the Massachusetts Division of Insurance mandates that support our priority of focusing on the health and safety of our community and our members.

Learn more about coverage and cost sharing related to testing and treatment for coronavirus (COVID-19).  

Will I be able to get refills on my prescriptions early?
Health New England is ensuring access to prescription medications by allowing early refills consistent with guidance from federal, state and local governments. In addition, Health New England has a 90-day maintenance medication benefit available to members for both retail and mail-order.We will have formulary flexibility if there are shortages or access issues, or if new treatment options become available.

Learn more about other coverage information.

If I don’t have health insurance or lose my insurance coverage through my employer because of COVID-19, what can I do?

If you or your company is impacted by COVID-19, you may qualify for state or federal health insurance programs including Health New England plans through the Health Connector (the Massachusetts Exchange), an intermediary (HSA Insurance), or MassHealth (Massachusetts Medicaid). 

The Massachusetts Health Connector and the Division of Insurance are extending the newly created Special Enrollment Period (SEP) for currently uninsured Massachusetts residents from April 25 to May 25, 2020. This SEP applies to On Exchange through the Health Connector and Off Exchange through HSA for uninsured residents to enroll into Individual coverage (see below for contact information).

Massachusetts Health Connector and MassHealth 
Call Center: 1-877-MA-ENROLL (1-877-623-6765)  
TTY: (877) 623-7773 for people who are deaf, hard of hearing, or speech disabled 

HSA Insurance (intermediary) 
Customer Service: (781) 228-2222 
Toll-Free: (877) 777-4414 

What is coronavirus and COVID-19?

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that may cause illness in animals or humans. In humans, several coronaviruses are known to cause respiratory infections. The most recently discovered coronavirus causes coronavirus disease COVID-19, which is a highly infectious respiratory disease.

First identified in the city of Wuhan, China, in December 2019, coronavirus has spread to people in more than 100 countries worldwide, including the United States.

On March 10, Governor Charlie Baker declared a state of emergency in Massachusetts. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) characterized coronavirus as a pandemic and U.S. President Donald Trump announced a one-month travel ban from Europe to the U.S.

For up-to-date information about the coronavirus, visit the CDC website

What are symptoms of coronavirus?

According to the CDC, symptoms can develop within 2 to 14 days of exposure. Common symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of Breath

Many people infected with coronavirus may only experience mild symptoms. In serious cases, the virus can cause respiratory illness such as pneumonia in older people and those with pre-existing conditions. No vaccine currently exists for coronavirus.

Do you need to talk to a doctor?

If you aren’t feeling well, contact your primary care provider (PCP). If your PCP isn’t available, most Health New England members* have access to Teladoc®, our telehealth service, for non-emergency medical issues.

While there is no specific treatment for coronavirus, symptoms of the virus can be managed at home under the direction of your PCP or a Teladoc physician. Virtual visits with Teladoc can help prevent the spread of illness to others.

Go to https://www.teladoc.com/coronavirus/ for more information about the virus and to schedule a virtual visit.

*Some self-funded employer groups do not participate in Health New England’s Teladoc benefit.

What can you do if you are experiencing mental health challenges with the COVID-19 situation?

In just a few weeks, the world has changed dramatically due to coronavirus (COVID-19). It can be difficult to face both personal and professional changes. If you are experiencing mental health challenges due to this pandemic, you are not alone.

Access behavioral health care services from one of our in-network providers. Search for behavioral health providers or call our Member Services team for assistance finding a provider at (800) 310-2835.

  • Contact Teladoc® for behavioral health care services.* For more information, visit https://healthnewengland.org/bhteladoc or call 1-800-Teladoc (835-2362).
    *Teladoc Behavioral Health Services apply to fully funded groups and Health Connector members. Not all employer groups participate in this benefit. Please check your plan materials for details. Cost sharing applies to Teladoc Behavioral Health Services.
  • Call the Disaster Distress Helpline at (800) 985-5990, which is a 24/7, 365-day-a-year, national hotline dedicated to providing immediate crisis counseling for people who are experiencing emotional distress related to any natural or human-caused disaster, including disease outbreaks like COVID-19. This toll-free, multilingual, and confidential crisis support service is available to all residents in the United States and its territories.

How do you prevent the spread of coronavirus and other illnesses?

Coronavirus is spread through coughing and sneezing. The CDC recommends taking a number of preventive measures that help prevent the spread of germs:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • If unable to use soap and water, use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol content.
  • Wash your hands before eating and after blowing your nose or sneezing.
  • Avoid contact with people who appear to be sick.
  • Avoid touching your mouth, eyes and nose.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that are frequently used.

What should you do if you suspect you’ve been infected with coronavirus?

If you suspect that you’ve been infected, the CDC urges you take the following steps:
  • People with COVID-19 or with other flu-like symptoms should stay home and follow all quarantine procedures.
  • Avoid public areas and public transportation.
  • Distance yourself from people and animals in your home.
  • Avoid sharing household items.
  • Wear a facemask when around other people.

If you have more significant symptoms, contact your health care provider, urgent care or the emergency room and follow their instructions.

Will a flu shot prevent coronavirus?
No, the flu shot does not prevent you from getting coronavirus. The flu shot does prevent the common flu, which causes thousands of deaths and hospital admissions each year. It can also help prevent serious complications if you do get the flu, like pneumonia.

According to public health officials, the risk of exposure to the flu remains a concern. It is not too late to get a flu shot.

What is Health New England’s business continuity plan?

We are prepared to operate effectively under conditions of increased absenteeism or quarantine by utilizing our technological capabilities for associates to work from home, if necessary.

Although the precautions to avoid the spread of COVID-19 may impact where staff works, we will still maintain full infrastructure capacity. This means we do not have to reduce critical functions because our day-to-day member and provider operations capabilities can be operated remotely minimizing impact to services and needed care.