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The psychosocial effects of COVID-19 and how UPMC Health Plan can help

The spread of COVID-19 created challenges unlike most of us have ever encountered. Because of this virus, the way we live and interact has dramatically changed. We jump hurdles every day to stay healthy, and we are constantly taking extra steps to stay safe. Errands like going to the grocery store and enjoyable activities like strolling through the park have become complicated and—for some people—stressful.

Because of these extensive and quickly imposed changes, it can be hard to feel comfort or peace of mind. And that can create more stress. But with the right support, we can—and will—get through this.

The right support involves attacking COVID-19 on all fronts. That’s why UPMC Health Plan is providing access to high-quality care that will help us all weather this crisis and emerge stronger. We’re waiving costs associated with COVID-19 medical care, and we are providing resources to help members and community residents meet their psychosocial needs.

What does psychosocial mean?

Psychosocial is the connection between social factors and thoughts and behaviors. It’s the connection you get from interacting with others, and it can come from everyday experiences.

It turns out that those trips to the grocery store give us more than what we put in our cart. Experiences like these allow us to connect socially with others. When we lose these connections, it can affect our emotional health.

During the COVID-19 crisis, we’ve also lost connections to family, friends, and care providers. 

Many people can’t work and have lost their income. This has left them struggling to meet their basic needs like food and housing.

As a result of these losses, many people are feeling uncertain, anxious, lonely, and hopeless.

How has UPMC Health Plan provided support during this time?

We acted quickly to help ease financial issues associated with COVID-19.

No-cost COVID-19 testing: UPMC Health Plan will waive deductibles, copays, and other
cost sharing for COVID-19 diagnostic testing when members are referred by a medical provider.

No out-of-pocket costs for in-network COVID-19 hospital treatment: Until June 15, 2020, we will waive all deductibles, coinsurance, and copays for in-network, inpatient COVID-19 treatment for the majority of members enrolled in commercial, Medicare, Medical Assistance, and CHIP plans, as well as those in an ACA plan. Self-insured employer groups can opt out of this coverage.

Mental and behavior health services

Brain Manager: During this difficult time, we’ve added resources for 24/7 emotional support. Members can use the Brain Manager mobile app anywhere, anytime, and at their own pace. The app includes information and tips on sleep, breathing, emotions, and mindfulness, among other topics.

Social distancing support and communication

Staying in Touch eventsIn this time of social distancing, our Staying in Touch events help us stay connected and cope with our emotions. Clinical experts at these virtual town halls discuss topics such as managing stress, staying healthy, and maintaining social connection while staying safely at home.

Financial, food, and job security
Pathways to Work: Millions of Americans are struggling with job loss, including many people in our area. The Pathways to Work program connects people with workforce development and training programs, as well as other resources that can help them find employment opportunities. UPMC works with several local organizations that offer no-cost job training programs in medical coding, environmental services, nursing, construction, and other fields.

Telehealth services

Many people are worried about seeking in-person treatment during the COVID-19 crisis, but it is important to get routine and preventive care.To eliminate this stress, we have expanded access to telehealth care.

$0 telehealth visits: A wide range of telehealth services—including UPMC AnywhereCare—is available at no cost from network providers until September 30, 2020. Users can speak with a provider from a smartphone, computer, or tablet and receive safe, high-quality care. More information is available at or from your network provider.

UPMC MyHealth 24/7 Nurse Line: UPMC nurses are on call day and night to support callers’ care needs and offer advice on a variety of health issues, including COVID-19. Nurses can be reached at 1-866-918-1591 (TTY: 711).

Keeping our members and the communities we serve healthy is a priority for us. That’s why we are working so hard to meet the medical and psychosocial needs that come with COVID-19. During this uncertain time, you can be sure of one thing: We are here for you. Together, we can stay healthy, stay safe, and stay strong.