What is COVID-19 (Coronavirus)?

COVID-19 is a viral respiratory illness caused by a newly identified coronavirus and was discovered in late 2019 in China. Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses. Some cause illnesses in people and others only circulate among animals. Rarely, animal coronaviruses can evolve and infect people. The virus causing COVID-19 may have emerged from an animal source and now spreads from person to person.


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

  • PreferredOne continues to waive cost sharing for COVID-19 laboratory testing and related telehealth, office, urgent care, and emergency department visits for all members. Contact us for specific coverage policy questions.
  • For fully insured and Simplicity, PreferredOne will continue to provide coverage for members for whom premiums are paid. This means that employees whose hours fall below the minimum or employees who are on furlough due to the COVID-19 crisis may still have health insurance through their employers.
    • For self-funded, the position is the same when PreferredOne Insurance Company (PIC) is the stop loss carrier. If the employer has outside stop loss then PreferredOne will be happy to administer the plan as above but the Stop Loss carrier would need to agree to cover claims under stop loss.
  • PreferredOne will maintain our usual guidelines with regards to timely payment of premiums and / or grace periods.
    • For fully insured, PreferredOne will honor the normal grace periods. There is some talk at the state level of increasing the grace period to 90 days for fully insured. If that happens, we will comply. Beyond the leeway with hours worked/furloughed status already communicated and honoring grace periods, PreferredOne isn’t in the position to provide relief on premium payments.
  • We are not enabling mid-year plan design 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, which usually allows the waiting period to be waived for employees who return to employment within 6 months. If your plan document doesn’t have this language, we are allowing midyear changes to the rehire provisions in 2020.

How does it spread?

The virus is spread between people who are in close contact (within about 6 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 the virtual care link below.


If you think you may have been exposed to COVID-19 you should call your healthcare provider immediately and relay your symptoms or use the virtual care link below. 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 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

If you desire screening due to possible exposure or for planned travel, the following lab offers patient-direct home test kits without member cost share.

Pixel by LabCorp COVID-19 Test (At-Home Kit) | Pixel by Labcorp

  • Members may choose the $0 Upfront Cost Option to take a short questionnaire to determine the need for testing
  • Members may choose the “Testing Recommended” option to align with travel guidance from the CDC and Department of Health

For more information about testing options, please visit

Screening for school-aged children

Children under age 18 can use of the Minnesota Community testing sites or test-at-home kits available from the state.
COVID-19 Community Testing Sites / COVID-19 Updates and Information - State of Minnesota (
COVID-19 Test at Home - Minnesota Dept. of Health (

Over-the-Counter Rapid Screening Tests

Kits for rapid testing are now available at major retail sites. This test gives you instant results from an easy nasal swab. The kits are available to purchase over-the-counter and receipts can be submitted for coverage. Note: this type of test might not be eligible for pre-travel screening.

HOW TO: A Guide for the BinaxNOW™ COVID-19 Self Test - YouTube

Virtual Care Options

View online clinic providers specific to your network and access coverage details.

Mental Health Support

All of us are impacted by COVID-19. Social distancing separates us from loved ones. Some of us face unemployment and other financial hardships. The virus itself may generate fear. Don’t go it 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 extends COVID-19 coverage
PreferredOne expands COVID-19 coverage
Centers for Disease Control
Minnesota Department of Health
World Health Organization
Food and Other Resources
PreferredOne Special Coverage for the COVID-19 Pandemic
PreferredOne COVID-19 Telehealth Policy
PreferredOne COVID-19 Employer FAQ Document
PreferredOne COVID-19 Provider FAQ Document