What is COVID-19 (Coronavirus)?

COVID-19 is a viral respiratory illness caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Most people infected with COVID-19 will experience mild to moderate respiratory symptoms and will recover without treatment. Older people and those with underlying health conditions are more likely to develop more serious illness.


PreferredOne is closely watching COVID-19 developments to ensure our members are best prepared and supported. PreferredOne continues to review our policies and modify our response as the COVID-19 scenario evolves.

  • As of October 1, 2021, coverage for inpatient and outpatient treatment for COVID-19 is subject to normal plan benefits.
  • For fully insured and Simplicity groups, PreferredOne will continue to provide coverage for members for whom premiums are paid.
  • PreferredOne will maintain our usual guidelines regarding timely payment of premiums and grace periods.
  • We are not enabling mid-year plan changes at the employee or employer level.
  • New Hire Guidelines remain intact.
  • We will follow standard guidelines outlined in the rehire provisions of the plan document.

How does COVID-19 spread?

Similar to the flu virus, COVID-19 is spread between people who are in close contact (within 3 feet) through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks. It may also spread by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching your mouth, nose or eyes.


The best way to prevent the illness is to avoid exposure through simple precautions. Prevention steps include:

  • A simple mask covering your mouth and nose to decrease respiratory droplets.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol if soap and water are not readily available.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home if you’re feeling sick.

COVID-19 Vaccination

In accordance with federal law, for the duration of the Federal COVID-19 Public Health Emergency, PreferredOne will provide coverage with no member cost-sharing for the administration of FDA Approved or Emergency Use Authorized COVID-19 vaccines, regardless of the provider’s network status. This applies to all Individual and non-grandfathered Group plans. The vaccine is now available to anyone age 12 or older.


This coronavirus causes mild to severe respiratory illness with fever, cough, and difficulty breathing. Additional symptoms include sore throat, body aches and chills. Evidence suggests that the incubation period (time from exposure to symptoms) is between 2-14 days. People may be infectious even before symptoms develop.

If you have symptoms of COVID-19 or have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, please contact your healthcare provider for further guidance or use virtual care.


If you think you may have been exposed to COVID-19 you should call your healthcare provider immediately and relay your symptoms or use virtual care. Your provider will determine if you need to be tested for COVID-19.

COVID-19 Testing

If you or your employees are concerned about possible exposure to COVID-19, we strongly encourage you to use telemedicine as your first resource. PreferredOne recommends using Virtual Care to be evaluated by a medical provider and recommended for testing if appropriate. Please make every effort to not send employees to the emergency room for COVID-19 testing as doing so could increase the chance of exposure and/or risk spreading the virus and puts added pressure on critical emergency room resources that are under severe strain. Also, please refrain from requiring employees to seek “return to work” authorizations from their physicians or hospital emergency rooms as this also places an extra burden on critical emergency services.

Screening Tests

There are many options to test for COVID-19. Whether you prefer to test at a testing site or at home, below are the links to options. For more information about testing and testing options, please visit MN Dept. of Health.

COVID-19 Community Testing Sites / COVID-19 Updates and Information - State of Minnesota (

COVID-19 At-home Testing

The following options are available without member cost to screen for possible exposure to COVID-19 or for travel requirements. In both cases the kit is mailed to the member's home and the sample is returned by mail to the lab. Results are available within 2 days of receipt by the lab.

Virtual Care Options

PreferredOne members have access to virtual care, which is a convenient option that saves money. Learn more about online care or use the online provider directory to locate providers in your specific network.

Mental Health Support

All of us are impacted by COVID-19. Although communities are opening, we are still faced with social distancing, employment or financial hardships and increased stress. You don't have to do this alone.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed or simply need some advice, there are many resources to help you during this highly stressful time.

  • Call your network behavioral health providers, as many now offer telephone counseling sessions
  • Access virtual resources such as MDLive for medical and counseling support anytime, day or night
  • Talk with employee assistance program (EAP) counselors for legal, financial and relationship advice or counseling for depression, substance abuse or other concerns
  • Free crisis resources are also available at

All PreferredOne plans cover virtual video and telephonic mental health visits. Check your health plan benefits information for coverage details or call PreferredOne Customer Service at 763.847.4477 or 1.800.997.1750 TTY 763.847.4013.

Additional Resources

PreferredOne COVID-19 Employer FAQ Document
PreferredOne COVID-19 Provider FAQ Document Centers for Disease Control
Minnesota Department of Health
World Health Organization
Resources: Mental Health, Domestic Abuse, Food
PreferredOne Special Coverage for the COVID-19 Pandemic