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Public Safety Alert

last updated July 21, 2020

 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) continues to monitor the coronavirus outbreak, now referred to as COVID-19, first identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China.

Frequently Asked Questions

Education

Where can I find the latest information on COVID-19?
For the most up-to-date information, visit the CDC’s website.

Where can I find information specific to TRICARE and COVID-19?
In addition to this page, we continue to post articles in the News section of our provider home page. Recent provider education includes:

Find additional details at:


Telemedicine

Does TRICARE cover telemedicine?
TRICARE covers medically and psychologically necessary telehealth services. TRICARE policy guidelines and exclusions apply. See our Telemdicine Services page for details.

How is telemedicine billed?
Visit our Telemedicine Billing page for details. 

 

COVID-19 Testing

Does TRICARE cover COVID-19 testing?
TRICARE covers medically necessary and appropriate diagnostic and antibody (serology) testing. Beneficiaries suspected to have COVID-19 should be tested following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines. COVID-19 diagnostic and antibody tests must meet Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) criteria. Antibody tests must be rendered to diagnose and/or treat beneficiaries. Please review benefit details on our Benefits A–Z page. 

Do I need prior authorization for COVID-19 testing?
There are no authorization requirements specific to COVID-19 testing. You do not need an approval from HNFS for medically necessary testing.

Are there utilization limits for how often a COVID-19 test can be provided?
No. Care must be medically necessary and appropriate. 

What copayment or cost-share will my TRICARE patients have?
Retroactive to March 18, 2020, TRICARE will waive copayments/cost-shares for COVID-19 diagnostic and antibody testing and related services, and office visits, urgent care or emergency room visits (to include covered telemedicine) during which tests are ordered or administered. See our Benefits A–Z page for additional clarification.

Providers are expected to refund cost-sharing amounts to beneficiaries as appropriate. Find current cost information on our Copayment and Cost-Share pages.

Will a patient who is admitted to the hospital as a result of a COVID-19 infection still have a copayment/cost-share? 
Ongoing treatment of a COVID-19 infection is still subject to copayments/cost-shares. While emergency room copayments may be waived, patients admitted to the hospital as a result of a COVID-19 infection would still incur treatment-related copayments/cost-shares, including those for hospital admissions.
 

Convalescent Plasma Collection

What is COVID-19 convalescent plasma?
COVID-19 convalescent plasma is the liquid part of blood collected from patients who have recovered from a COVID-19 infection. Antibodies present in convalescent plasma are proteins that help patients fight an active infection; in this case, SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. It has not yet been clinically proven if COVID-19 convalescent plasma will be an effective treatment against COVID-19; however, there is anecdotal evidence that CCP may be effective for some patients.

What is the COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma Collection Program?
The Defense Health Agency (DHA) is leading an effort to collect up to 10,000 COVID-19 convalescent plasma (CCP) units by Sept. 30, 2020. Collected CCP will be available for treatment of COVID-positive patients in military hospitals that meet established criteria and in accordance with approved protocols. This effort is designed to increase operational readiness of our combat forces and will help our nation study the use of CCP as a treatment. 

You likely have patients you diagnosed or treated for COVID-19 who are now recovered and symptom free. If you are near one of the Armed Services Blood Program collection centers, on behalf of DHA, we ask you actively reach out to any TRICARE beneficiary you treated for COVID-19 and encourage these patients to donate to DHA’s Convalescent Plasma Program.
 

General

What are the CDC recommendations for preventing the spread of COVID-19 and other viral illnesses?
Review CDC guidelines at www.cdc.gov/COVID19 and www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/faq.html.

Where can I find current guidelines for health care providers?
Review the CDC’s guidance for health care professionals. Be sure to get a detailed travel history for patients who present with flu-like illness.

What recommendations should I give to patients who are concerned they may have COVID-19 or believe they have been in contact with someone with the virus?
Per the CDC,

  • Seek medical advice.
  • Call ahead before going to a doctor’s office or emergency room. 
    • Tell your doctor about recent travel and your symptoms. 
    • Some providers may offer telemedicine as an alternative to coming into the office. TRICARE covers medically-necessary telemedicine services when all criteria are met. Learn more on our Telemedicine Services page
    • If your primary doctor is not available, TRICARE beneficiaries can go to any TRICARE-authorized urgent care center or if necessary, an emergency department. 
    • TRICARE beneficiaries who need health advice can contact the Military Health System’s Nurse Advice Line 24/7. 
  • Avoid contact with others and do not travel while sick.
  • Contact your local public health department as soon as practical. 
  • Learn more at www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/steps-when-sick.html

What can one do while sick to prevent the spread to others?
The best way to prevent illness from spreading is to avoid exposing others. Stay home except to get medical care, and separate yourself from other people and animals in your home. 


Travel

For those planning travel to abroad to affected countries:
View the CDC’s current travel notice and FAQs.

For travelers already in affected countries where the virus may be present.
View the CDC’s current travel notice and FAQs.

For travelers returning from areas with the virus.
United States residents who travel to other countries where this outbreak has occurred may be screened upon re-entry to the U.S. 

 

 

 

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html