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Coronavirus Update: Florida Blue Increasing Access to Health Care Services for Members to Aid in Treatment

Posted on Mar 13th 2020 by Florida Blue

We’re here for you

If you have questions about the coronavirus, have symptoms and need help finding a provider to do a COVID-19 test, or any other concerns, please call us at the number on the back of your member ID card so we can help. You can also call the Florida Department of Health’s 24/7 COVID-19 Call Center at (866) 779-6121 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

We have made several adjustments to make it easier for members to get tested and treated for COVID-19 and increasing access to other health care services, including:

Waiving copays and deductibles related to medical testing for the virus for members who are part of our commercial insurance plans.

Waiving the cost of the medical test for the virus for members who are part of our commercial insurance plans, including Affordable Care Act (ACA)/Individual and Medicare Advantage health plans. Members should consult their health care provider if they are experiencing symptoms linked to the coronavirus, such as mild to severe respiratory symptoms, like a cough and difficulty breathing, and a fever. If the doctor determines a test is needed, he or she will perform it and send it to the laboratory.

Having access to necessary medications. Florida Blue will increase access to prescription medications by waiving early medication refill limits on 30-day prescription maintenance medications (consistent with member’s benefit plan) and/or encouraging members to use 90-day mail order benefit. 

Offering counseling for members feeling stress related to coronavirus. In partnership with New Directions Behavioral Health, you can talk to specially trained behavioral health counselors at no cost, even if you aren't a member. You can talk with a counselor 24/7 about stress you may be feeling by calling the toll-free help line at 833-848-1762.

Strongly encouraging members to take advantage of virtual care options in their plans for less serious medical issues. Seeking in-person care may lead to further spreading of the coronavirus. Those with conditions, such as common colds or other mild illnesses, can visit floridablue.com to learn more about virtual care options.

Pat Geraghty, president and CEO of Florida Blue, said the company will continue to monitor the impact of COVID-19 and make policy adjustments, as necessary. “As the impact of COVID-19 spreads, we want to ensure our members that we will do all we can to make health care treatment and services readily available,” he said.

Members should take precautions to protect themselves from getting the virus, including frequently washing their hands with soap and water and avoiding people who are sick. (See more tips below.) If you have questions about your plan or benefits, please call the number on the back of your member ID card.

We are hosting a free live webinar on March 19th for anyone interested in learning more about coronavirus.

Click here to register.

What is the Risk of Contracting COVID-19

The risk of contracting COVID-19 in Florida is low. Most of the people who contract COVID-19 recover in a matter of days, oftentimes at home, according to health officials. Symptoms can be more serious for older adults and people with underlying health conditions.

What Are the Symptoms?

Patients typically have mild to severe respiratory symptoms, such as a cough and difficulty breathing, as well as a fever. As with other viruses, people who are elderly and/or have underlying health conditions are more at risk. Symptoms may appear two to 14 days after exposure.

How is the Virus Spread?

According to the CDC, the virus is mainly spread person-to-person, particularly when they are within six feet of each other. The primary way is when an infected person sneezes or coughs and their droplets land on a nearby person’s mouth or nose or are inhaled into their lungs. Another way is when a person touches a surface where the virus is, then touching his or her own mouth, nose or eyes. Click here for more information on how the virus can be spread.

How Can You Protect Yourself and Your Family?

There is no vaccine to prevent infection from COVID-19. The best way to protect yourself is to avoid being exposed to the virus. Here are some prevention tips:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing. Also, wash your hands when you touch things in public like elevator buttons, door knobs and office telephones.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Avoid contact with people who are sick and stay home when you are sick.
  • Surgical masks should be reserved for caregivers, health care personnel and people with symptoms and under suspicion for COVID-19. As of now, masks are not covered by Florida Blue health plans.
  • Make sure you have enough nonperishable food for a week or so in case you get sick, just as you would if you had the flu.
  • Follow government travel restrictions

Resources

Here are several websites you can use to find the latest details:

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Individual and Family Health Insurance

individual and family health insurance florida

If you can’t get health insurance for yourself or your family through your employer or your spouse’s employer, Sonnenberg Insurance Services, a SandStone Insurance Company Affiliate, can help.

At Sonnenberg Insurance Services, you’ll work with a dedicated agent to find the Florida Blue plan that best fits the way you and your family interact with health insurance. We'll run through a variety of scenarios to help narrow the field and determine the best option for your medical needs and budget or we can tailor a plan to meet specific health care needs.

Individual and family plans are available for people who are unemployed or between jobs, people who are self-employed, students, and retirees who are not yet eligible for Medicare benefits.

Under the ACA, all individual and family plans are now required to offer preventative services including: immunizations recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), preventive care recommended by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), and certain women’s services and screenings without a copayment, deductible, or coinsurance requirement.

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What is Critical Illness Insurance and Who Needs It?

sick elderly

You’ve probably never needed Critical Illness Insurance but, in the event of a major health emergency, like cancer, heart attack or stroke, Critical Illness Insurance or Catastrophic Illness Insurance, as it is sometimes referred to, could be the only thing standing between you and financial ruin.

Many people assume that their regular health insurance will cover them in the event of a life-threatening illness, but the exorbitant cost of treatment is usually more than standard plans cover. These days, your odds of surviving a catastrophic illness are significantly higher than they used to be, but the cost of surviving can break the bank. To that end, Critical Illness Insurance was developed in 1996.

Critical illness insurance provides coverage in the event of:

  • Heart Attack
  • Stroke
  • Organ Transplant
  • Cancer
  • Coronary Bypass

It can also cover non-medical costs related to the illness like:

  • Daily Living Expenses
  • Transportation
  • Retrofitting vehicles to carry scooters or wheelchairs
  • Installing lifts in homes
  • Respite Vacations
  • Childcare

How much does Critical Illness Insurance cost?

The price of Critical Illness Insurance depends on several factors including: the gender, age and health of the insured, their family medical history, and the amount and scope of coverage, i.e. the more illnesses the policy covers, the more you’ll pay in premiums.

How can I get Critical Illness Insurance?

Critical Illness Insurance is available as an add-on to some Life Insurance policies, it can be purchased independently, or your employer may offer it as a benefit. Unlike other healthcare benefits, employees typically assume the entire cost of Critical Illness coverage, but part of what makes these policies so appealing is that they tend to be fairly inexpensive, especially when you get them through an employer.

Despite their relatively low price, there is still some skepticism regarding the value that these policies offer. Critical Illness Insurance policies only cover a narrow range of illnesses, they exempt certain cancers and chronic illnesses, they may not be cover you if a disease comes back or if you suffer a second heart attack or stroke, and some coverages can end or be reduced once you reach a certain age.

Like all insurance policies, Critical Illness policies are subject to a variety of stipulations beyond just the specific medical conditions they cover. For example, a diagnosis of cancer only trigger payment if the cancer has spread beyond the initial point of discovery or is life-threatening. Similarly, a diagnosis of stroke may not trigger a payment unless neurological damage persists for more than 30 days.

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Everything You wanted To Know About Medicare (But Were Afraid To Ask)

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Facts About Medicare

Medicare is a federal insurance program that pays for a variety of health care expenses. Medicare beneficiaries are typically senior citizens, aged 65 and over, and adults with approved medical conditions like Lou Gehrig’s disease or qualifying permanent disabilities.

Like Social Security, Medicare is an entitlement program. Most U.S. citizens earn the right to enroll in Medicare by working and paying Medicare taxes for a minimum required period. If you have not worked for the required period, you may still be eligible, but you’ll probably pay more.

The Medicare “Parts”

The different Medicare programs are often referred to as Part A, Part B, Part C, and Part D.

Medicare Part A

Part A is hospital insurance. It covers inpatient hospital care, a limited stay in a skilled nursing care facility, limited home health care services, and hospice care.

Most Part A beneficiaries don’t pay monthly premiums to receive coverage under this part of “Original Medicare”, this is called “premium-free” Part A. Generally, if you’ve worked and paid Medicare taxes for at least 10 years (40 quarters), you will be eligible for premium-free Part A. Otherwise, you’ll pay a monthly premium.

Part A typically does not cover the full amount of your hospital bill. You’ll probably be responsible for a share of the hospital bill and you’ll have to reach a deductible before your Medicare benefits kick in. Medicare will then pay 100% of your costs for up to 60 days in a hospital or up to 20 days in a skilled nursing facility. After that, you’ll pay a flat amount up to the maximum number of covered days.

Your Part A benefits cover some of the costs for a total of 90 days in a hospital and 100 days in a skilled nursing facility. Medicare also covers up to 60 “lifetime reserve days.” These are days that you stay in a hospital in excess of 90 days in a row. You get a lifetime total of 60 reserve days.

Medicare Part B

Part B is medical insurance. Its benefits cover certain non-hospital medical expenses like doctors’ office visits, blood tests, X-rays, diabetic screenings and supplies, and outpatient hospital care.

There is a monthly premium for Part B of Original Medicare and the fee is typically higher for people with higher incomes. Medicaid, a different government program, can help cover the Part B premiums for low-income beneficiaries.

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‘Tis the Season … for Grilling

peaches

Nothing says summer quite like a backyard barbecue.

You can cook tons of delicious, healthy meals—everything from chicken breast to roasted veggies—right on your grill! But have you ever tried making a dessert on the grill?

Put your peaches to good use, and try this sweet grilled dessert at your next barbecue.

Grilled Peaches and Cream

Ingredients

  • 4 peaches, halved and pitted
  • 2 tablespoons clover honey
  • 1 cup soft cream cheese with honey and nuts
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Directions

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 8 Minutes
Ready in 23 minutes

  • Preheat a grill for medium-high heat.
  • Brush peaches with a light coating of oil. Place pit side down onto the grill. Grill for 5 minutes, or until the surfaces have nice grill marks. Turn the peaches over, and drizzle with a bit of honey. Place a dollop of the cream cheese spread in the place where the pit was. Grill for 2 to 3 more minutes, or until the filling is warm. Serve immediately.
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Tips to Protect Your Skin this Summer

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Summertime has arrived. Spending time with family and friends in the pool, boogie boarding at the beach and sun bathing are some ways we like to enjoy our weather. However, this puts you at risk for getting a sun burn.

Before you plan to go outdoors, make sure to protect your skin from head to toe. Too much sun exposure can lead to skin damage and even melanoma.

What can you do to protect your skin:

  • Dress Appropriately – Wear a hat, sunglasses, long sleeves and pants, when possible. For doing yard work, swimming and leisure, wear special clothing that protects against ultraviolet rays. Clothing should have a UVP (ultraviolet protection factor) above 30. In comparison, an ordinary tee shirt only has a UVP factor of 6.
  • Use sunscreen daily – Sunscreen should have an SPF rating of 30 or higher. You should apply sunscreen every two hours if you’re swimming or sweating. Look for a sunscreen that’s water resistant, broad-spectrum and protects against both UVA (ultraviolet shortwave) and UVB (ultraviolet long-wave). Don’t forget about your hands, feet and any bald spots.
  • Protect your eyes - Wear sunglasses with broad-spectrum protection. If you use contact lenses, they should have UV protection.
  • Use lip balm - Get an SPF of at least 30, and reapply after eating. You should also choose cosmetics that offer UV protection.
  • Avoid prime time sun- Try to stay indoors between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., when the sun’s rays are strongest.
  • Check skin regularly - Look for new spots or growths or changes to those you already have. See your doctor immediately if you notice anything suspicious.
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RCS Food Drive

Sonnenberg smallWe are excited to announce that Sonnenberg Insurance Services will be collecting donations for RCS Food Bank from June 5, 2019 – June 28, 2019.

Starting on Wednesday, June 5th you can bring canned/non-perishable food items to Sonnenberg Insurance Services located at 2410 West Bay Dr, Largo, FL 33770.

Wish List Includes:

  • Canned Soup
  • Canned Fruit non-syrup
  • Canned Meats tuna, chicken, chili, stews, low-sodium hearty soups
  • Canned or Dried Beans
  • Cereal (low sugar, high fiber)

RCS was founded over 50 years ago and provides nutritious groceries to tens of thousands of individuals and families living throughout Pinellas County. The largest demographic receiving food from RCS are children age 5-13 years-old.

Donate Today!

Sonnenberg Insurance Services
2410 West Bay Dr
Largo, FL 33770
727-582-9151

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Simple Lifestyle Choices Can Prevent Diabetes

blog diabetes

Simple lifestyle choices can help prevent lots of diseases and health conditions.

No matter how old you are, it’s important to eat healthy, move your body regularly and keep your weight in check. Let’s take a look at one ongoing health condition that affects millions of Floridians: diabetes. Your lifestyle may help you avoid it.

What is Diabetes?

If you have diabetes, your body has trouble changing your blood glucose (blood sugar) into energy. As a result, you have too much glucose in your body. That can lead to things like heart disease, blindness and problems with your kidneys and eyes, to name a few.

  • Type 1 diabetes occurs when the pancreas stops making insulin. Insulin is the hormone that helps get blood glucose into your cells for energy. Without insulin, blood sugar levels get too high. Because this is an immune system function, there’s no way to prevent Type 1 diabetes. People with this condition usually need to take insulin every day.
  • Type 2 diabetes is the more common. It can run in the family or be brought on by being overweight, not exercising enough and having high blood pressure. This means there are things you can do to help avoid it!

A simple blood test can show you and your doctor if your blood sugar is too high. Coverage for a blood sugar test depends on the plan you’re in.

  • Most individual and family plans cover an annual checkup visit for a $0 copay.
  • If you have health coverage through your job, check your benefits for the exact cost.
  • If you have a Medicare health plan, talk to your doctor about your risk for diabetes during your Annual Wellness Visit. If you need a diabetes screening, there’s no extra cost to you as part of your Medicare health plan as long as you use a network provider.

How to Know If You’re at Risk: Prediabetes

Luckily, there’s a warning sign between having healthy blood sugar and a diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes. This is called prediabetes, and it can increase your risk of heart disease and even stroke. If you have prediabetes, you should take quick action to get your blood sugar back to normal.

Take this quick, one-minute quiz to see if you’re at risk of having prediabetes.

If your risk is high:

  • See your doctor right away for a blood test'
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Nothing says summer quite like a backyard barbecue.You can cook tons of delicious, healthy meals—everything from chicken breast to roasted veggies—right on your grill! But have you ever tried making a dessert on the grill?Put your peaches to good use...

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Give us a call, stop by, or request a quote online to find out how much we can save you on your insurance.

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Sonnenberg Insurance Services
2410 West Bay Dr
Largo, FL 33770

Office: (727) 582-9151
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