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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.

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 age5 or older. For more information on vaccinations, see the FAQ link below.


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 between2-14 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 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. Make every effort to not send employees to the emergency room for COVID-19 testing as doing soincreasesthe chance of exposure andrisksspreading the virus and puts added strainon critical emergency room resources. In addition, please refrain from requiring employees to seek “return to work” authorizations from their physicians or hospital emergency rooms as this also places extra burden on critical emergency services.

Screening Tests

There are many options to test for COVID-19. For more information about testing and testing options, visit MN Dept. of Health or COVID-19 Community Testing Sites-State of MN.

COVID-19 At-home Testing

On January 10th, 2022, the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services, Labor, and Treasury issued guidance in the form of an external FAQ, providing that group health plans must cover –without cost-sharing –over the counter (OTC) COVID-19 at-home tests. These tests, when FDA authorized, must be covered without cost-sharing, prior authorization, or other medical management requirements through the duration of the federal public health emergency.

For PreferredOne Members with ClearScript Pharmacy Benefit Services: We recommend our members purchase at-home test kits from ClearScript network pharmacies first or order free kits from the federal government. If tests are not available/timely from the first two options, a member can purchase a test kit for reimbursement through their pharmacy benefit. Reimbursement is capped at $12 per test. Instructions for reimbursement through ClearScript can be found at PreferredOne/My account or here.

For PreferredOne Members with other pharmacy benefit services: Contact your pharmacy benefits manager or PreferredOne customer service for information.

For more information on this subject please refer to the COVID-19 Employer & Member FAQ below.


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.

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 have been impacted by COVID-19, whether it's due to being away from friends and loved ones or employment changes and financial hardships, everyone is under increased stress. You don't have to do this alone.If youare 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 likeMDLive for medical/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 benefitsfor coverage details or call PreferredOne Customer Service at 763.847.4477 or 1.800.997.1750 TTY 763.847.4013.

Additional Resources

PreferredOne COVID19 Employer, Broker, Member FAQ
PreferredOne COVID-19 Provider FAQ Document
PreferredOne Special Coverage for the COVID-19 Pandemic
Centers for Disease Control
Minnesota Department of Health
World Health Organization
Resources: Mental Health, Domestic Abuse, Food