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COVID-19 symptom tracker rolled out by health insurance companies

Several major health insurance companies have created online tools to help people wondering whether they need a test for COVID-19. People experiencing symptoms might be wondering what to do next.

“You wake up with a bit of a sniffly nose and you think, ‘Oh no, is it the COVID,'” said Dr. Nicole Brady, Chief Medical Officer for UnitedHealthcare Wisconsin and Michigan.

UnitedHealthcare and Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield have both rolled out online symptom checkers.

“It was an immediate need that we were really glad that we could just jump in and provide it for people,” said Dr. Julie Mitchell, Commercial Medical Director for Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield Wisconsin.

The symptom checkers ask patients several questions about what symptoms they are experiencing, how long they have had them and other potential risk factors. Insurance companies said it is an easy way to track those symptoms.

“It takes all that information together and tells you what’s the most appropriate action for you to take,” Brady said.

Those options include staying at home, seeking emergency care or calling a healthcare provider to ask about testing.

“If it does turn out that you need testing, we have a COVID-19 test ‘finder’ app,” Mitchell explained.

Both companies also have a tool that helps people find nearby testing sites by entering their address or zip code.

“Healthcare’s not the easiest to navigate, and so anything we can do to make that easier for our members,” Brady said.

These services are not just available to members. Anyone can visit providers’ websites and use these tools to get advice on what steps to take.

“We just want to again remove any barriers to people getting tested, identified and treated,” Brady explained.

Several major insurance providers have waived all costs for their members relating to COVID-19 testing, treatment and hospitalization. For more information on what your plan covers, contact your provider directly.

UW Health has also said the hospital is not billing uninsured patients in relation to COVID-19.