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Your health coverage, health care, and well-being during the COVID-19 pandemic

The Georgians for a Healthy Future team is continuing to monitor the COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak closely. As always, GHF strives to be a resource for Georgia consumers. While things continue to change quickly during this health care pandemic, we will share practical advice and actionable information to help you navigate a confusing time and find the answers you need. Here we present information about how to access health care services and what to expect from your health insurance coverage when you do. We will keep the corresponding blog post updated as things change and with links to helpful resources as they become available.


Georgia’s statewide shelter in place ended on April 30, 2020 for most Georgians. Vulnerable populations including those who are medically fragile and elderly should continue to shelter in place until June 12, 2020.

Governor Kemp also extended Georgia’s public health state of emergency through June 12, 2020. He also issued executive orders requiring businesses to operate by strict social distancing and sanitation rules through May 13, 2020.

We encourage all of you to continue to help prevent the spread of the virus by taking the necessary steps to “flatten the curve” including staying home, avoiding group gatherings, washing your hands, practicing good hygiene, and following the guidance of public health experts.


If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or may need a test

If you believe that you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or have been exposed to the novel coronavirus, call your primary care doctor or an urgent care clinic. Let them know you think you may have COVID-19, so they can take the proper precautions and direct you to available testing sites. You may also call the Georgia Department of Public Health on their COVID-19 hotline at 844-442-2681. Public health officials are urging people not show up unannounced at a doctor’s office, emergency room or other health care facility.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have a Coronavirus Self-Checker which may be a helpful tool if you think you are experiencing symptoms of the virus.

You can find out more about COVID-19, its symptoms, what to do if you think you are sick, and other COVID-19 information at dph.georgia.gov/novelcoronavirus.


What to expect from your health insurance

If you have insurance, make sure to use it for any testing and medical exams related to COVID-19 and any other medical services you may need during this time.

The COVID-19 crisis has caused many Georgians to lose their jobs and also lose their employer-sponsored health care coverage. If you have lost your coverage or have had a drop in your income, you may be eligible for Medicaid or financial assistance to buy health insurance through the Affordable Care Act. Please read the If You Lose Your Job section below.

If you have Medicaid or PeachCare for Kids

If you and your family have lost your source of income in this crisis, or are in lower-income work with no health coverage, enrolling in Medicaid may be an option for you.

Medicaid provides all “medically-necessary” services to its members. During the national public health emergency period, your Medicaid coverage will cover the cost of a COVID-19 test.  If you are diagnosed with COVID-19 and need medical treatment, Medicaid should also cover those costs. 

Check with your Medicaid insurance company for more information and guidance. Click the name of your Medicaid company to find out more: AmerigroupCareSourcePeachState Health Plan, and WellCare.

If you need other health care services during this time, check with your Medicaid insurance company and doctor to see if you can have a “virtual appointment” using the internet, video call, or telephone call, instead of going in-person.

Georgia’s Department of Community Health (DCH) has announced that Medicaid & PeachCare members will not owe any co-payments for any health service from May 1, 2020 until the end of the national public health emergency.

No one can willingly lose their Medicaid coverage during the public health emergency. If you lose your Medicaid coverage during this time, contact your Medicaid insurance company.

If you have private insurance

If you have insurance through your job, the State Health Benefit Plan, or the Affordable Care Act marketplace (also called healthcare.gov), use it for any testing or medical exams related to COVID-19. The Families First Act requires that health plans and insurers cover testing for COVID-19 so your test should be free. If someone wants to charge you for a test, call the DPH’s COVID-19 hotline.

If you are diagnosed with COVID-19 and require medical treatment, you should expect to pay some out-of-pocket costs like your deductible.

As of March 21, 2020 Cigna, Humana, Aetna, and UnitedHealthcare have waived cost-sharing for COVID-19 treatment. Aetna and Cigna have pledged to waive COVID-19 treatment costs for qualified medical bills until June 1, 2020. Humana has not announced an end date to their COVID-19 cost-sharing policy.

If you purchased coverage outside of the ACA marketplace or you have a short-term plan or health-sharing ministry, call your insurance company to find out how they are covering COVID-19 testing and treatment. The cost-sharing requirement under the Families First Act does not apply to people who are enrolled in non-ACA compliant plans (ex: short-term plans).

If you need other health care services during this time, check with your insurance company and doctor to see if you can have a “virtual appointment” using the internet, a video call, or a telephone call instead of going in-person.

In order to ensure people affected by COVID-19 have access to health care Georgia’s Insurance Commissioner issued a directive on March 20, 2020, that instructed health insurers to refrain from canceling health policies due to non-payment. That directive expires on May 31st. If you are behind on your premium payments or expect to be, call your insurance company right away to see if they can offer a payment plan, financial assistance, or other help to keep you enrolled.

If you have Medicare

Medicare covers the lab tests for COVID-19. You pay no out-of-pocket costs. All necessary hospitalizations are also covered by Medicare, including hospitalizations for quarantine. More information about Medicare’s coverage and services is available here.

If you are uninsured
If you need a COVID-19 test, contact your local public health department to find a testing site and to ask whether the test will be free. Request that they waive any testing costs.

If you need other health care services during this time, find a local community clinic, or apply for financial assistance through a hospital charity care program. Georgians should not let their insurance status get in the way of getting needed testing or treatment.

If you lose your job

Many Georgians across the economy have lost their jobs and may be at risk of losing their coverage. If this is your situation, you can keep yourself and your family covered during this health crisis. You may be eligible for a Special Enrollment Period up to 60 days after losing your job-based health insurance. When you begin the enrollment process, healthcare.gov will ask you about your estimated income for 2020 and will let you know if you qualify for financial help to lower your premiums and other cost-sharing. 

For free help with the enrollment process, contact these organizations:

Coverage through the ACA marketplace (healthcare.gov) covers testing for COVID-19. It will also cover part or all of the costs related to COVID-19 treatment. Call your insurance company for more information.

If you are unable to enroll in a health insurance plan, you may have other options through services such as a community clinic, which can connect you with the care you need.


Resources for you and your loved ones

During this uncertain time, many of our partner organizations are doing the hard work of finding and centralizing the information that you and your loved ones may need. Here are a few that we think are most helpful. We will continue to update this list with actionable resources and information so you can stay healthy, safe, and well. 

  • COVID-19 guidance and information
    • Information from public health experts: Visit the Georgia Department of Public Health’s website for the latest guidance and updates about COVID-19 in Georgia.
    • Coronavirus resources for people who are not strong readers: Georgia State University has published a library coronavirus materials for people who may not have strong reading or literacy skills. They have included materials up to a 9th-grade reading level.
  • COVID-19 guidance and information for people who do not speak English as a first language
    • The GSU School of Public Health’s Prevention Research Center has compiled COVID-19 information sheets (from CDC & the International Rescue Committee) in 25 languages
  • Make sure your basic needs and finances are taken care of:
    • If you need help finding food:
      • Georgia Covid-19 Resource List, Atlanta Legal Aid Society, Inc.
      • Food Bank of Northeast Georgia: Visit www.foodbanknega.org, click ‘Need Help’, you will be taken to a list of mobile food pantries and a map where you can enter your zip code to be shown locations near you
        Call the office at (706) 354 8191
      • Lyft is offering free rides for those in Athens-Clarke County to any registered agency of a value of up to $25 with the code FOODBANKNEGA for the month of April
      • Atlanta Community Food BankText the word FINDFOOD to 8889762232 with your ZIP code and street address and you will be sent a list of the three closest distribution centers
        Text service also available in Spanish, using the word COMIDA
        Visit www.acfb.org, on the home page, click ‘Find Help’ in the COVID-19 response box, you will be taken to a map to locate the nearest distribution centers to you
      • Georgia Mountain Food Bank Georgia Mountain Food Bank falls under the same resources as Atlanta Community Food Bank
      • Golden Harvest Food BankVisit www.goldenharvest.org, click on ‘Find Help’ at the top of the page, you will be taken to a map where you can enter your zip code to find the nearest food distributor
        Golden Harvest Food Bank will also respond to Facebook Messages
        Someone is in the office Monday – Friday, 8:00 am to 12:00 pm and 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm, who can respond to calls at (706) 736 1199
      • Middle Georgia Community Food Bank–Call 211 and you will be connected with an associate who will be able to tell you where you can find food
      • Feeding the Valley Food BankCall the main office on (706) 561 4755, select the option for the Warehouse Co-Ordinator and they will help you locate the closest source
        Visit www.feedingthevalley.org, on the front page, enter your zip code into the ‘Need Food’ box and you will be shown the closest food pantries to your location
      • America’s Second Harvest of Coastal GeorgiaVisit www.helpendhunger.org, select ‘Find Food’ on the homepage, you will be taken to a map where you can enter your zip code or county to be shown the nearest food distribution centers
      • Second Harvest of South GeorgiaVisit feedingsga.org, select ‘Find Help’ in the ‘Learn’ section at the top of the page, you will be taken to a map where you can find the closest distributors to you
  • Housing:
  • Finances:
  • Health Care:
  • Resources for people with developmental disabilities:
  • Mental health resources while you #StayHome: 
    • Mental Health and COVID-19 information and resources, Mental Health America
    • The Georgia MH Consumer Network’s Peer2Peer Warm Line will remain open 24/7/365, providing peer support over the phone. Support is available to all Georgians experiencing anxiety or stress, or who need support through the pandemic. Please call 888-945-1414 any time.
    • COVID-19 Emotional support line: The Georgia COVID-19 Emotional Support Line: 866-399-8938. This 24/7 confidential line offers assistance for those needing emotional support or resource information as a result of COVID-19 pandemic. The support line is staffed by volunteers, including mental health professionals and others who have been trained in crisis counseling. This is part of a partnership between the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health & Developmental Disabilities, Beacon Health Options and Behavioral Health Link.
  • Get support for your recovery:
    • Call 844-326-5400. FREE, confidential, and available to anyone who has questions about addiction and recovery, needs someone to listen to them, or wants to talk with someone who is also in recovery from Substance Use Disorders
  • Keeping children healthy and well
  • Resources for pregnant families during COVID-19: Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition of Georgia has put together a toolkit for families navigating pregnancy, labor, and the postpartum period in Georgia.
  • Community Health Workers
    • Information and Resources for Community Health Workers: During these uncertain times, Community Health Workers (CHWs) are desperately needed frontline workers to bridge the gap between healthcare delivery and marginalized communities. This information kit was created for CHWs serving in Georgia, to supplement the robust list of information provided by the National Association of Community Health Workers.


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