Coronavirus Screenings, Tests, and Treatment

You want what's best for your team. We can help.

Keeping everyone safe at work

  • Educate your team on the CDC's guidelines and encourage everyone to follow best practices — washing hands with soap, practicing social distancing, and wearing a mask.

  • Provide tools to help. Make personal protective equipment available — like masks or gloves — install hand sanitizer stations, or implement handwashing breaks.

  • Review your sick leave policy to determine if any changes should be made. Let your employees know that what’s safest for everyone is that they stay home when they’re not feeling well. If necessary, educate employees on your paid time off or sick policy to make people feel more comfortable taking time off when sick.

  • Make changes to your physical workspace to allow for social distancing, if you can. Space out employees’ work stations, hold virtual meetings when more than a handful of people are needed, and limit the number of people in confined areas — like conference rooms, breakrooms, cafeterias, etc.

  • If you can, stagger employees’ arrival and departure times. This will help reduce the number of people who gather in lobbies, elevator banks, and other public spaces.

  • Clean. Clean. And clean some more. Make sure you thoroughly clean and disinfect your workplace, especially those frequently touched areas, kitchenette sinks, microwaves, refrigerator handles, etc. Consider having disinfectant wipes available for employees to wipe down their workspaces and meeting rooms.

Testing for infection, commonly called antigen or diagnostic testing

This test is used to diagnose patients suspected of having Coronavirus and requires a quick swab of the nose.

Pros:

  • Very sensitive and specific to Coronavirus. Standardized testing available, with many vendors and labs receiving FDA emergency use authorization.

Cons:

  • If the person has already recovered from Coronavirus and will likely not infect others, the test could show a false positive — an incorrect result that shows the virus is present.
  • If the person is asymptomatic — not showing any symptoms — the test may show a false negative — an incorrect result that shows the virus is not present.
  • The test results are “outdated” as soon as they’re received. For instance, if an employee tests negative one day, they could hypothetically contract the virus the very next day.

Testing for antibodies, also known as serologic tests

This test identifies a prior Coronavirus infection by detecting antibodies’ in the blood. It is done through a blood draw or a quick finger prick to obtain the blood sample.

Pros:

  • It can be given to anyone, even those without Coronavirus symptoms.
  • Tests will likely be available in large quantities in the future and results can be turned around quickly.

Cons:

  • Current tests don’t assess if the antibodies presence provides actual immunity to Coronavirus. A positive test could give people a false sense of security, when in reality, they could still contract the virus.
  • There can be a gap in time between when a person is tested and when symptoms develop because people don’t typically develop antibodies until 8-14 days after they start feeling symptoms.
  • Many of these tests are not very specific. The antibody test could be cross-reactive with other viruses, like the common cold, and show a false positive result — an incorrect result that shows the virus is present.
  • Testing is not standardized and the majority of available tests have not undergone FDA review and testing. But, they have received emergency use authorization.

As you can see, with so many shortcomings, testing isn't an effective "back-to-the-workplace" strategy. Instead, consider the precautions we outlined above to keep your workplace safe and your employees healthy.

Screenings breakdown

Screenings breakdown table

Self-funded plan privacy info:

There have been no changes in federal requirements regarding the proper handling of protected health information (PHI). We are monitoring communications from the Department of Health and Human Services on this subject and will adjust our current practices as needed if deviations from current requirements are authorized.

Can Highmark share the names of covered members who have been tested for COVID-19?

Yes. Highmark can provide group health plan administrators with the names of their members who have been tested, presuming we have received claims for the tests and can identify them. You will be invoiced for the claims and have the right to know the identities of individuals for whom you are paying claims in order to properly administer their plans.

Can Highmark share COVID-19 test results?

No. Highmark cannot provide any test results, positive or negative. If we receive corresponding claims for any COVID-19 hospitalizations or other treatments, we cannot provide anything more than what you would receive in the course of your usual invoicing process.

Treatment

Extend current COVID treatment waivers through 12/31/21 in all markets (PA, WV, DE and NY) and all lines of business. Highmark is waiving member cost sharing for in-network, inpatient hospital care for COVID-19 for fully insured groups. This includes any deductibles, coinsurance, and copays.

The opt-out period for self-funded groups ended on March 22, 2021.

This website is accurate as of the date referenced but may change pursuant to regulatory mandates, updated guidance, or in response to changing business needs. The information in this document is based on information published in official guidance, by associations and organizations, or discussed in articles on the subject. Information compiled in this document is presented for your consideration only as each workplace and locality is different. Highmark makes no representation or warranty related to the information compiled in this document. The information in this document is not intended to situate Highmark as a provider of medical services or dictate the diagnosis, care, or treatment.