Care and Services Available for COVID-19 (Coronavirus)

COVID-19 vaccinations

Vaccine coverage. COVID-19 vaccines are an important step in slowing the spread of the virus. As vaccines are approved, Independence will cover the cost of administering them with no cost share (such as co-pays, deductibles, coinsurance) for members regardless of where the vaccine is given. View our COVID-19 FAQs for more details.

Vaccine approval. The vaccines are approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for Emergency Use Authorization, though widespread availability of a vaccine likely will not occur for months. Distribution of the vaccine is controlled by the federal government, and they collaborate with local and state governments and Departments of Health on distribution. Independence does not control the availability or distribution of any vaccines.

If you are a Medicare Advantage member, please see below section.

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Staying healthy

Wear a mask. COVID-19 cases are on the rise, locally and nationally. Public officials and health experts are urging us to use face coverings whenever we go out. The virus mainly spreads from droplets released into the air when we cough, sneeze, or talk. Whether you show signs of illness or not, masks prevent droplets from reaching others and reduce their risk of getting sick.

Practice social distancing. Limit close contact with anyone outside of your household. Even if you’re wearing a mask, it’s still recommended you stay at least six feet from others when in public, or at least two arms’ length apart.

Wash your hands regularly. The virus can also spread from touching recently contaminated surfaces and then touching your face. Washing your hands with soap and water is one of the most importance defenses against the spread of COVID-19 and other illnesses. Keep hand sanitizer on you for when you don’t have access to soap and water.

Symptoms and testing

Check your symptoms. If you think you’ve been exposed to COVID-19 and develop a fever, cough, or have trouble breathing, call your doctor. Visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for more details on symptoms.

Testing is covered. Independence Blue Cross (Independence) will cover the cost for medically appropriate diagnostic and antibody testing in accordance with all federal mandates through the end of the Public Health Emergency, which is currently July 20, 2021². Independence does not cover tests that are needed for return to work, return to school, for travel, or for visiting with relatives. Learn more about the differences between diagnostic and antibody tests in this infographic.

If you are a Medicare Advantage member, please see below section.

Find a test location

Virtual visits

Talk to a doctor from anywhere¹. Telemedicine services for a COVID-19 related diagnosis from your primary care doctor are covered at no cost through June 30, 2021². Telemedicine services from your doctor for a non-COVID diagnosis are available for same cost as an office visit, based on your health plan. You can also schedule a same-day appointment with a doctor 24/7 with MDLIVE¹ at no cost, depending on your plan. MDLIVE doctors can assess your symptoms and help with next steps. Register or login at

Specialists are available. The CDC recommends that the best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to the virus that causes COVID-19. Ask your specialist if your visit can be done over the phone or video. If so, office visit cost-sharing will apply, based on your health plan. This also includes urgent care, nutritionists, and therapists (occupational, physical, speech). Physical and occupational therapy must be conducted via video.

If you are a Medicare Advantage member, please see below section.

Getting care

Treatment is covered¹. Independence will waive members’ cost for in-network, acute in-patient treatment of COVID-19 through June 30, 2021². Cost sharing will be applied to post-acute care (e.g. skilled nursing, rehabilitation and long term acute care facilities), outpatient treatment, prescription drugs, ambulance transportation to a post-acute setting, and out of network care.

Pre-authorizations temporarily waived. Pre-authorization is currently not required for any acute, in-patient admissions from an in-network Emergency Department for a COVID-19 diagnosis through June 30, 2021. Facilities are still required to notify Independence.

If you are a Medicare Advantage member, please see below section.

Additional care support

Coverage for pulse oximeters. Pulse oximeters are small, portable devices that monitor oxygen levels in the blood and pulse rate. To help monitor members who have a COVID-19 diagnosis or are recovering from COVID-19, Independence will cover consumer grade pulse oximeters that are prescribed by an in-network doctor and purchased through an in-network supplier. Member cost sharing will be waived through June 30, 2021.

If you are a Medicare Advantage member, please see below section.

Maintain your health and medications

Keep your health on track. As doctors’ offices re-open, talk with your doctor if you delayed an elective procedure and need to reschedule. Be sure to make an appointment with your doctor if it’s time for your annual check-up or preventive health screenings too.

Check your medications. Check to make sure you have enough medications. Call your doctor if you need refills.

Get Rx delivery. Many neighborhood pharmacies are now offering free home delivery. View a list of locations.

Your emotional health

Feeling stressed? Community health outbreaks may cause stress and anxiety. You can find your way On To Better Health with our interactive cognitive behavioral therapy program for conditions like anxiety, depression, and insomnia. Plus, stay physically active and emotionally balanced with programs to conquer physical distancing in our Achieve Well-being tool. Login to your account at

Virtual visits for mental health¹. If you have mental health benefits through Independence Blue Cross, you can talk to an in-network mental health counselor online or on the phone. The cost will be the same as a mental health specialist visit. Call the number on the back of your ID card or visit to find a provider.

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Medicare Advantage members

COVID-19 services. Independence will waive the cost of many COVID-19-related services for Medicare Advantage members through the duration of the public health emergency, which is currently scheduled through July 20, 2021. This includes waiving costs for the following in- and out-of-network services:

  • COVID-19 diagnostic and antibody testing
  • Telemedicine services from a primary care doctor (if there is a diagnosis of COVID-19) and MDLIVE
  • Acute in-patient treatment of COVID-19 (starting January 1, 2021, this will be covered for Independence Medicare Advantage members through their new 2021 plans)
  • Consumer grade pulse oximeters that are prescribed by a doctor

The following services are also available. Member cost sharing is waived for COVID-19 diagnosis related visits. Member cost sharing applies for non-COVID-19 diagnosis related visits.

  • Telemedicine services from specialists, including urgent care, nutritionists, and therapists (occupational, physical, speech)

After the PHE ends, in-network services will continue to be covered by both Keystone 65 HMO and Personal Choice PPO plans in accordance with our filed benefit. However, Keystone 65 HMO members will no longer have coverage for out-of-network services. Out-of-network services will be covered for Personal Choice PPO members at a higher cost-share.

Prior authorization. Independence requires prior authorization for COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 diagnoses for:

  • Transfers from acute, in-patient facilities to post-acute facilities, including long term acute care, rehabilitation, and skilled nursing facilities
  • Transfers from acute, inpatient facilities to another acute, in-patient facility including ambulance transport

COVID-19 diagnosis. Independence will temporarily suspend prior authorization requirements for acute inpatient admissions from the emergency department at in-network or out-of-network facilities through May 31, 2021.

Non-COVID-19 diagnosis. Independence requires prior authorization for acute inpatient admissions from the emergency department at in-network facilities and out of network facilities.

Vaccine information. The cost of the COVID-19 vaccine and its administration will be covered by Original Medicare (not Medicare Advantage plans). The health care provider administering the vaccine does not need to be part of the Independence network, but must participate in the Medicare program. Visit our common COVID-19 questions and answers page for more details on how the vaccine will be covered.

Beat COVID-19 Videos

The Independence Blue Cross Beat COVID-19 multi-media public service campaign underscores the message: We’re in this together. These videos from our executives and medical directors highlight ways everyone can help slow the spread of COVID-19 so we can safely and effectively manage it.

View all videos

News and updates

Stay connected!

Sign up for Independence updates and information. If you have coverage through your employer or purchased an Individual or Family plan, get connected today.

Medicare members can sign up at

1 If you have coverage through your employer, benefits and coverages may vary. Please check with them about how these programs apply.

2 The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) and Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act mandate that member cost sharing (deductible, co-pays and coinsurance) is waived both in and out-of-network for the testing and diagnosis of COVID-19 through the public health emergency. For High Deductible Health Plans, in-network cost sharing waivers detailed above will remain in effect through the public health emergency unless prohibited by law.

MDLIVE is an independent company.

Y0041_HM_95799_2021 Website last updated: 4/23/2021

Independence Blue Cross offers Medicare Advantage plans with a Medicare contract. Enrollment in Independence Medicare Advantage plans depends on contract renewal.

Independence Blue Cross offers products through its subsidiaries Independence Hospital Indemnity Plan, Keystone Health Plan East and QCC Insurance Company — independent licensees of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.

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