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Coronavirus COVID-19 - Clinical impact

March 4, 2020 · Clinical Connection team

The coronavirus (COVID-19), that began to emerge in late 2019, has become an increasing public health concern due to its ease of person-to-person transmission. And, while the vast majority of infected individuals experience mild symptoms, it can be more severe, especially for at-risk populations of people. 

With no vaccination currently available, the primary focus for responding to COVID-19 will be through the prevention of direct transmission. These efforts include limiting exposure of affected individuals to larger populations, careful respiratory hygiene, handwashing and covering the mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing.  

Potential impact to claims

Symptomatic treatment of affected individuals may be needed for both acute and prolonged illness. As with any compensable injury or exposure, the Manage Medication feature in our VitalPoint® application may be utilized by clients to add or remove medications from a particular claimant’s profile at any time.

In addition, our medical director has overseen the development of a viral infection formulary overlay that will allow supportive medications to be approved to process should a claim be compensable for such medications or the COVID-19 infection itself. This overlay may be added to a claimant’s profile by contacting our call center staff at the normal contact numbers.

In the event that a claimant needs to obtain medications early due to a quarantine situation or to streamline medication refills due to COVID-19 infection, our call center staff is prepared to allow early refills to those claimants, as warranted. (Prescriptions for controlled substances will receive careful oversight.)

To date, there are no medications approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat the virus itself or speed illness recovery. For more information from the CDC on what to do when someone is sick with COVID-19, click here.  

Impact on our customers

At Optum, we are taking the necessary precautions to fully inform and protect our employees against the virus. Our organization has engaged a task force to monitor the situation and the spread of the virus. We will continue to follow the CDC guidelines, evidence-based protocols and protective procedures required to serve our customers. As more information and treatment options are identified to effectively treat COVID-19, we will provide updates as necessary. We will continue to watch and update our current processes to ensure we are adequately supporting our customers.

Optum’s Emotional-Support Help Line is free of charge to help anyone dealing with stress and anxiety regarding COVID-19. The service can be reached at (866) 342-6892, 24 hours a day, seven days a week and is open to all.

Response management program

Optum has an Enterprise Resiliency and Response Program designed to help prevent and/or mitigate the impact of events that could potentially disrupt our business operations. Our program is interrelated with:

  • Site emergency planning,
  • Business continuity planning
  • IT disaster recovery planning, and
  • Response to events affecting public health and pandemics

The program enables us to react quickly to all forms of disasters, minimizing potential negative effects to our operations, vital services and customers. From a business continuity standpoint, most Optum associates have the ability to work from home, if necessary.

We recognize and acknowledge our responsibility to our customers, employees, business associates and shareholders in relation to the protection of assets and reliability and dependability of our business operations. We take this responsibility very seriously and plan accordingly.

While the situation is dynamic, we are committed to adapting and supporting those we serve.

For updated information on COVID-19:

Please visit these Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) links:

Coronavirus Situation Summary

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