COVID-19 Coronavirus Update

Independent Health’s top priority is to protect the health and well-being of all our members and the safety of our employees and their families.
Last Updated 3/29/21

COVID-19 Vaccine Information

Vaccine coverage
The vaccine is covered with no cost share.

For the most up-to-date information and details on the categories of individuals eligible to get the vaccine and to find out how and where you can get it, visit these websites from New York State:

Or, call the COVID-19 Vaccination Hotline at 1-833-NYS-4VAX (1-833-697-4829), Monday through Sunday from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Please note:

  • If you are an Independent Health Medicare Advantage member, you may have to provide your Medicare Number, which is located on your red, white and blue Medicare card. You can visit to learn more about your Medicare card.
  • If you are a member of other Independent Health plans, you may have to provide your Independent Health ID number, which is located on your Independent Health member ID card.

Vaccine safety
Public health experts, and federal and state governments recommend everyone to get the vaccine. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website has information about vaccine safety and what to expect when getting it.

Other important vaccine facts

  • COVID-19 vaccination is especially important for people with underlying health problems like heart disease, lung disease, diabetes, and obesity. People with these conditions are more likely to get very sick from COVID-19. Please consult with your health care provider if you have specific questions about the COVID vaccine and your health.
  • Neither of the COVID-19 vaccines that are currently available can cause you to get the disease. For example, the first vaccine approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) uses a small, harmless part of the virus’s genetic material called “mRNA”. This is not the virus. mRNA vaccines teach your body to create virus proteins. Your immune system develops antibodies against these proteins that will help you fight the virus that causes COVID-19 if you are exposed to it. That is called an immune response.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that you get vaccinated even if you have already had COVID-19 because you can catch it more than once.
  • While you may have some short-term antibody protection after recovering from COVID-19, researchers still do not yet know how long immunity after vaccination lasts. That’s why continuing prevention practices like wearing a mask, washing your hands regularly and social distancing will still be important.

Information about COVID-19 Testing


Questions about the types of Covid-19 tests and when to get tested?

​This short video explains the differences between diagnostic and antibody tests, the types of tests available and what to do when you have your result.

This section includes information about coverage and non-coverage for Covid-19 testing, when:

  • You or your health care provider decide you need a diagnostic test (covered)
  • You have a surgery or medical procedure and need a pre-surgical Covid-19 test (covered)
  • You are tested for public health surveillance or as required by your employer or schools. (not covered)

Please see below for important details.

Coverage for diagnostic testing
If you or your healthcare provider believes you are infected with the Covid-19 virus, this is a diagnostic test and covered with no cost share. Diagnostic tests show whether a person has the Covid-19 virus and the possibility of infecting others.

We strongly encourage our members to contact their primary care doctor to help them decide if they need diagnostic test.

Members of our State products (MediSource, Essential Plan, Child Health Plus) must use participating in-network provider for these services. (These products follow specific coverage guidelines).

Members of our self-funded plans should contact us at (716) 631-2661 or 1-800-257-2753 for specific information about how their plans cover testing. The back of your member ID card indicates “Medical benefits administered by Nova.”

Where to get tested for diagnostic purposes

  • Contact your primary care provider’s office first.
  • You may get tested at a New York State or county testing site, or urgent care center. Some doctor’s offices, certain pharmacies and all hospitals which participate with Independent Health also offer diagnostic tests.

When Covid-19 Testing is not covered:
Independent Health does not cover Covid-19 testing for screening purposes. Below are examples when Covid-19 tests are not covered:

  • Screening test required by an employer
  • Screening test required to attend school (both students and staff)
  • Public health surveillance
  • To attend events such as weddings, sports games, concerts and other entertainment

To get a test for these types of reasons above, you may make an appointment for one of the New York State testing sites, or contact your county’s health department.

This policy is consistent with other plans across New York.

Coverage for Antibody Testing
Antibody testing with an order or prescription from your health care provider is covered. (While CMS regulations do not require a provider’s order for Medicare Advantage members, we encourage providers to discuss the benefit of the test with those members.)

Coverage for Treatment and Telehealth


  • Independent Health covers all services and treatment for our members with no member cost share, including in-person, telehealth, urgent care center, outpatient hospital or emergency room visits when the primary purpose of the visit is COVID-19 testing, diagnosis and treatment.
  • This coverage applies until further notice to all fully insured commercial plans (including HSA-qualified high deductible health plans), Medicare Advantage, State Products and Individual plan members.
  • Coverage for self-funded employer plans varies by employer group. Members who are Self-Funded through your employer should contact us at (716) 631-2661 or 1-800-257-2753 for more information on telehealth benefits and the cost. The back of your member ID card indicates “Medical benefits administered by Nova.”
  • Care received when ordered by a health care provider as part of a COVID-19 treatment plan.

Telehealth and telemedicine

  • To encourage social distancing and help reduce the risk of spreading this virus, Independent Health will cover any in-network telehealth/telemedicine services, whether or not COVID-19 related.
  • There will be $0 copay or cost-sharing* for members for these services. Medicare Members are responsible for the cost share associated with ancillary services (e.g. dietitians).
  • Members who are Self-Funded through your employer should contact us at (716) 631-2661 or 1-800-257-2753 for more information on telehealth benefits and the cost.


  • We encourage members to contact their primary care physician for their medical needs, but we also know this isn’t always possible. When you can’t reach your primary care physician, Teladoc* allows members to talk with a doctor anytime, anywhere by phone, mobile app or online 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
  • We will waive the cost share for Teladoc services during the COVID-19 outbreak for our members’ ease and convenience. Learn more about Teladoc including how to get started.
  • Teladoc is not available to MediSource, MediSource Connect, Essential Plan and Child Health Plus members. Additionally, members who are Self-Funded through your employer should contact us at (716) 631-2661 or 1-800-257-2753 for more information on Teladoc benefits and the cost.

Common Questions

With the uncertainty everyone is facing, we know our members have many questions. We want you to rest assured that Independent Health’s coverage will be there for you when you need it.

Yes, we will provide access to members with pharmacy benefits who need their medications, including medication alternatives and early refills. Members can contact their pharmacy directly for assistance.

Some local pharmacies offer prescription delivery. We encourage you to contact your preferred pharmacy to see if home delivery is available. We currently offer mail-order for maintenance medications through ProAct and Wegmans Mail Order Pharmacy Services. If you are interested in learning more or registering for mail-order service, you can view details here.

We are prepared to continue to provide access to members with pharmacy benefits who need their medications, including medication alternatives, in the event of a medication shortage.

If you are experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms, call your primary care physician (PCP). Make sure you tell your PCP if you have been in close contact with a person known to have COVID-19. If you do not have a PCP and are thinking of going straight to a facility or hospital for care, we encourage you to call ahead and discuss your concerns with their staff first.

We understand this is a very difficult and uncertain time for all of us. If you are currently facing financial challenges, we will not terminate your coverage at this time. Contact us to work with you to develop a plan to help you pay your premiums so that your coverage will remain uninterrupted.

Independent Health has a limited supply of face coverings available for our members. Please contact Member Services to see if there are any available. Also, there are many online retailers selling face coverings, and the CDC website has information on how to make your own.

Yes, as long as your plan* includes this benefit. At this time, the meal vendor will have the option of providing you with in-home delivery or the frozen meal option only. When the meal vendor contacts you to confirm and schedule your delivery of the meals, they will provide you with the method in which the meals will be delivered. If you select "in-home delivery" but it is not possible, you will be notified that your only option is frozen delivery. Your meals will then be delivered to you together and arrive in one delivery by a postal carrier.

*Benefit included as part of Independent Health’s Medicare Basic and Assure Advantage plans.

No, unfortunately we cannot cover these items for you.

Western New Yorkers who are shopping for a Medicare plan can make an appointment to meet in person with an Independent Health Medicare RedShirt at one of the following Medicare Information Center locations:

  • Cheektowaga/Depew: 620 Dick Road
  • Orchard Park: 3225 Southwestern Blvd
  • Tonawanda: 746 Young Street
  • Williamsville: 150 Tech Drive (Independent Health Family Branch YMCA)

Please note: For the safety of our guests and RedShirts, we are requiring everyone to have an appointment in order to visit our Medicare Information Centers, and masks must be worn at all times. No walk-in visits will be allowed. Safety and sanitation protocols, as well as capacity limitations, will be enforced at each site.

If you are retiring soon or turning age 65, go to our Find a RedShirt page to learn how you can schedule an appointment to visit one of our Medicare Information Centers. At this time, customer servicing representatives are not present at any of these sites.

All other Independent Health buildings and locations currently remain closed to the public, including our Servicing Center and Medicare Information Center in Lakewood.

If you have questions about your Medicare Advantage plan, our RedShirts are available by phone, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Please call the number listed on your Member ID card. Or, you may visit our Contact Us page for additional numbers.

If you need to make a payment, you may do so online. Here’s the page to set up a monthly payment schedule, or to make a one-time payment.

Wellness Resources

We know that things are challenging and uncertain with the COVID-19 Coronavirus. Independent Health has identified some resources that may be helpful to you as you navigate this new normal.

Stay Informed

We encourage all members to create their own Independent Health member accounts in order to review their benefits and have access to key details related to their plan.