COVID-19: Current Policy and Procedures
BCBS, CIGNA, MEDICARE COVERING TELEPHONE SESSIONS!
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois now covers behavioral health care via telephone and HIPAA-compliant video platforms per their recent announcement. We anticipate that United Health Care, Aetna, Cigna, and Meridian will follow suit in the next few days.
SCHEDULING PHONE APPOINTMENTS
Please call your clinician to schedule a telephone appointment. If you have insurance other than BCBS, we will bill your insurance company, expecting that they will reimburse. Again, we anticipate that this emergency will prompt insurers to respond ethically and cover telephone and video sessions. Please advocate for yourself and everyone by calling your insurer and asking for this benefit. If the sessions are not covered, we will inform you, and send you an invoice. Fees are based on length of each session.
Samaritan clinicians want to provide the best care through this time of distancing and disinfecting. If you are concerned about payment, please know that there are scholarships for financial assistance available, based on your income and need. We don’t want anyone to be without help, especially in a time of change and uncertainty.
Call 847-382-HOPE (4673) to contact your clinician.
In the coming weeks, Samaritan clinicians will have the option of becoming certified to provide telemental health care over a secure, HIPAA-compliant Zoom platform. When this choice becomes available, you may schedule online sessions with your counselor as long as she/he feels it is a good venue for your treatment.
MANAGING ANXIETY IN AN ANXIOUS TIME
There is no escaping the fear-factor of this uncertain time. Much like 9/11, our lives are on hold, and we’re not sure how long, or how deep of an impact COVID-19 will have on our future. What can we do to manage our anxiety in the midst of so much stress?
First, stay safe and keep those around you safe: observe the recommended social distancing rules, and self-quarantine at home protocols if you feel sick. Even if you just have a cold, or the garden-variety influenza A or B, stay at home. No one want to get those, either! And you all know the drill about washing hands and sanitizing surfaces.
Second, turn off the TV. Give yourself a time limit on the news; maybe 30 minutes in the morning, 15 at noon, and another 15 in the early evening. It’s so much of the same story over and over, and if you need more updates, scroll through your top news feeds, and pick one or two stories to read. Try to avoid watching the news right before bed.
Third, breathe. Simply take deep, full breaths with your eyes closed. Drop your shoulders, relax your forehead, soften the corners of your eyes. Deep, steady breaths tell all of the systems of our bodies that all is well. Breathing regulates our nervous system, our digestion, our circulatory and lymphatic systems, and turns off the alarm bells in our heads. Just two minutes of taking full breaths and repeating a word like “Breathe” or “Relax” or “Peace” can reset your whole body, like rebooting your laptop.
Fourth, if you have children, they are looking to you for comfort and safety. Work at being a “non-anxious presence,” which is like being a glass insulator cap over electrical wires, or a fire mitt holding a burning log. You are in the midst of the anxiety, but you maintain an inner calm, which deflects and disperses the stress. This is different than hiding your fear (“never let them see you sweat”), this is truly being calm inside because you are present, in the moment, looking at the people most precious to you, and maintaining a sense of gratitude and joy. Laughter is the best stress buster! Scoop up your kids, or your partner, or your fur-baby, or whomever you have omitted from your social distancing list, and say “thank you” to whatever you believe is holy.
Remember to be kind. Take what you need and leave some for others. Drop off food at the food pantry. Drop off toiletries at the homeless shelter, and pet food at the animal shelter. When we help others, we feel better. Maybe that’s the take-away from this whole ordeal.
If you or someone you know needs to talk through any emotional, mental, behavioral, or spiritual challenges, call Samaritan. Our clinicians can set up a phone or video therapy session, and the good news is, your insurance will probably pay for it (thanks to our stay-at-home rules!).
Call 847-382-HOPE (4673). Listen for your clinician’s extension.
Reliable resources for COVID-19 information:
•Centers for Disease Control (CDC)
•World Health Organization (WHO)
•Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH)
•Lake County Health Department
•McHenry County Health Department
•Cook County Public Health
•Chicago Department of Public Health
•State of Illinois: COVID-19 Response
The CDC offers these helpful suggestions as well: Taking Care of Your Emotional Health