COVID-19: 5 tips to help you stay healthy

Vaccines are here, but the pandemic goes on. Here’s how your UnitedHealthcare® Medicare Advantage plan can help you stay strong.

Joy Manning
Mature couple looking at a laptop.

Nearly a year into the pandemic, we’re all anxious to say goodbye to the “new normal.” But even though the vaccine rollout is underway, remaining safer at home continues to make a lot of sense, especially for older adults. Anyone older than 65 is, after all, at an increased risk of serious complications and hospitalization from COVID-19, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

Prevention should be your top strategy when it comes to staying healthy during the pandemic, according to the CDC. And the basics still matter most: Limit your trips outside of your home, and when you do go out, wear a mask and maintain at least six feet of space between you and other people. (Find your local health department recommendations at www.usa.gov/state-health.) And don’t forget to keep washing your hands regularly.

That said, it probably isn’t realistic to hole up at home until everyone is vaccinated. Unfortunately, many Americans have put off important screenings and other medical appointments in the hopes that things will be back to normal soon. In a September 2020 national survey, four in 10 adults told the CDC that they were putting off seeking medical care because of COVID-19 fears.

But you don’t have to compromise your safety to stay current with your health care needs. Thanks to your UnitedHealthcare® Medicare Advantage plan, you have many options for getting care while you wait for life to return to normal. 

Here are five ways to get the most out of your health plan during the pandemic and beyond.

1. Roll Up Your Sleeve for a Flu Shot

As always, you can get a flu shot at no cost to you. Hopefully, you got yours earlier in the season, but if you haven’t, it’s not too late. There are two good reasons to do it, according to the CDC: First, the shot can help keep you from getting sick with the flu. Second, preventing the flu in as many people as possible keeps flu patients out of the hospital, reducing the strain on the health care system. 

Satisfied man smiling
Get your next checkup right at home — for free

UnitedHealthcare® HouseCalls brings yearly check-in care to you in your own home. You’ll get a physical exam, health screenings and plenty of time to talk about your health questions with a licensed medical practitioner.

To learn more and confirm if you are eligible, call 1-800-934-0280, TTY 711, Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. – 8:30 p.m. ET, 5 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. PT. or click here.

2. See Your Provider Without Leaving Home

Health plans and health care providers have made it easier to get care virtually from home. These days, it’s easier and more convenient to use your smartphone or computer for a video visit with your health care provider. Plenty of common health issues and follow-up appointments can be handled this way, and it can really help you stay well while limiting your potential exposure to the virus. 

Most UnitedHealthcare Medicare Advantage plans have $0 copays for covered telehealth services1. Some patients feel nervous about their first telehealth appointment or think they won’t get quality care over the internet. But a 2020 study published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research found that most patients were highly satisfied with their telehealth appointments.

Talk to a Nurse 24/7

Our NurseLine2 is open around the clock to help you with any health care concerns. Call the NurseLine number on your member ID card to speak with a nurse about any health care concerns, including those about COVID-19. If you’re experiencing a medical emergency, call 911. 

3. Reduce Trips to the Pharmacy

Why take the risk of standing in line at the drugstore every month to refill prescriptions when you can have them delivered to your door? If your plan and prescription qualify for a 3-month supply, you can set up home delivery. This may help lower the costs of your prescriptions

Home-delivery users are more likely than those who visit retail pharmacies to take their medications correctly and have better health outcomes, according to research from OptumRx®3, an affiliate of UnitedHealthcare and a preferred home-delivery pharmacy for many plans.

To find an in-network pharmacy and set up home delivery, visit your plan website.

4. Access Mental Health Care

The pandemic has increased stress, anxiety and depression for many people. In fact, one in four older adults have reported experiencing signs of depression and anxiety during the pandemic, according to another 2020 report from the CDC.

If you’re living by yourself and social distancing from others, you may be feeling lonely or isolated. With most UnitedHealthcare Medicare Advantage plans, you can see a mental health care provider via telehealth. Depression and anxiety are common and serious issues, but both are very treatable. 

Coverage for mental health care varies by plan, so sign in to your plan’s website to get the details about what is available to you. And if you just need to talk to someone, try the free 24/7 emotional support line. It’s available for you to call anytime at 866-342-6892, TTY 711.

Questions About COVID-19 Testing or Vaccines? 

We’ve gathered important information about testing services and vaccine access in one place — including answers to your most frequently asked questions. Find it all at our COVID-19 Resource Center

5. Take Care of Your Physical Health

Moving more is one of the most beneficial things you can do during the pandemic — both for your physical fitness and your mental health, according to the CDC. And a new study from researchers at Columbia University Medical Center shows that getting your heart rate up four times a week can help raise your spirits.

When the weather permits, grab your mask and lace up your walking shoes for a brisk walk in the neighborhood. Or, as long as you have a little floor space, you have everything you need for an effective home workout. Carve out 10 minutes (or more) to march in place and do some wall pushups and chair squats. Try the 5 Functional Exercises Every Older Adult Should Do here

Many UnitedHealthcare Medicare Advantage plans include health and wellness resources, including Renew Active™, through Renew by UnitedHealthcare4. With Renew Active5, you have access to thousands of fitness videos that you can do at home. Workout options include strength training and yoga, which can help protect your bones, keep you flexible and prevent falls. You can also keep your mind active through the AARP® Staying Sharp® brain health program.

Don’t Put Off Emergency Care

If you have been diagnosed with or suspect you have COVID-19, it’s important to keep a close eye on your symptoms. The CDC recommends immediate medical care if you experience any of the following: 

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion
  • Bluish lips or face
  • Any other emergency signs your health care provider has indicated

If any of these occur, call 911, and be as specific as you can about your symptoms. Then, follow their instructions.

 

1.Virtual visits may require video-enabled smartphone or other device. Not for use in emergencies.
2.The NurseLine service should not be used for emergency or urgent care needs. In an emergency, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room. The information provided through this service is for informational purposes only. The nurses cannot diagnose problems or recommend treatment and are not a substitute for your doctor's care. Your health information is kept confidential in accordance with the law. Access to this service is subject to terms of use.
3. OptumRx is an affiliate of UnitedHealthcare Insurance Company. You are not required to use OptumRx home delivery to supply your maintenance medication. If you have not used OptumRx home delivery, you must approve the first prescription order sent directly from your doctor to OptumRx before it can be filled. Prescriptions from OptumRx should arrive within 5 business days after we receive the complete order. $0 copay may be restricted to particular tiers, preferred medications, or home delivery prescriptions during the initial coverage phase and may not apply during the coverage gap or catastrophic stage. Contact OptumRx anytime at 1-888-658-0539, TTY 711.
4. Benefits, features and/or devices vary by plan/area. Limitations and exclusions apply.
5. Participation in the Renew Active™ program is voluntary. Consult your doctor prior to beginning an exercise program or making changes to your lifestyle or health care routine. Renew Active includes standard fitness membership. Equipment, classes, personalized fitness plans, and events may vary by location.
Certain services, classes and events are provided by affiliates of UnitedHealthcare Insurance Company or other third parties not affiliated with UnitedHealthcare. Participation in AARP® Staying Sharp and the Fitbit® Community for Renew Active is subject to your acceptance of their respective terms and policies. UnitedHealthcare is not responsible for the services or information provided by third parties. The information provided through these services is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for the advice of a doctor. The Renew Active program varies by plan/area.