You may have questions or concerns regarding coronavirus, so we have tried to answer as many of these as we can here, based on information from our healthcare partners, including Medical Solutions who provide Equipsme members with 24/7 GP access and AXA PPP healthcare who handle physio, diagnosis and treatment insurance claims.
Equipsme members can call or message the 24/7 GP Customer Service Team, who have been trained to identify the symptoms of COVID-19 and will direct patients to NHS 111, where appropriate. Login here or use the Equipsme App to access your account for all the contact details.
Medical Solutions have also created a Coronavirus Content Pod where anyone can find an FAQ-style interview in a series of short videos with their Chief Medical Officer, Dr Chris Morris, who answers some key questions about COVID-19 and provides some useful information and advice.
Help for employers
As an employer, you may have questions about reassuring your staff, what is “furloughing” or ways to minimise the impact of Covid-19 at work. Our stress support partner, Health Assured, has some helpful FAQs as well, which you can find here.
Our insurer partner AXA PPP healthcare has created a risk assessment toolkit to help you put measures in place for a safe and successful return to work. You can find it here.
There is also Government guidance to help employers, employees and the self-employed understand how to work safely during the coronavirus pandemic, which you can find here.
“Clinical Support Centre” providing virtual access to specialist consultations
A ‘virtual’ Clinical Support Centre has been set up by AXA PPP healthcare bringing together a panel of the UK’s leading specialists and practitioners who are all available by telephone, video or online.
The bespoke panel includes ENT, gastroenterology, gynaecology, orthopaedic, paediatric, cardiology and cancer specialists, many of whom are among the most senior and expert consultants in their respective fields.
Depending on the Equipsme health plan cover level, the team will assess if the member's condition is eligible and help signpost to the most appropriate specialist, guiding them to the right support and advice. All without the need for a GP referral letter. This will ensure members can access the right expert at the right time – all from the safety of their own home.
Frequently asked questions
Coronavirus: what is it and how does it spread?
COVID-19 is an illness that can affect your lungs and airways. It’s caused by a virus called coronavirus.
Because it’s a new illness, we do not know exactly how coronavirus spreads from person to person. It is probably predominantly spread by respiratory droplets (from coughing or sneezing) among close contacts (e.g. within 2m) for prolonged periods or direct contact with infected secretions (except sweat).
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
- You may have contracted coronavirus if you have a fever, cough or shortness of breath, or a loss or change in your sense of smell or taste.
- The symptoms can be similar to the common cold or flu and may appear up to 14 days after exposure.
- The severity of illness can vary from mild to severe symptoms.
Is there any treatment available?
- There is currently no specific treatment for COVID-19.
- Antibiotics do not help, as they do not work against this virus.
- Medical care aims to relieve the symptoms while your body fights the illness.
- You’ll need to stay in isolation, away from other people, until you have recovered.
I think I have coronavirus. What should I do?
- Stay at home if you have coronavirus symptoms.
- Do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital.
- Stay at home if you have either a high temperature and/or a new, continuous cough – this means you’ve started coughing repeatedly.
- If you have any of these symptoms you can ask for a free NHS test. This is available to anyone in England and Wales and to anyone over the age of 5 in Scotland and Northern Ireland.
- You and your recent contacts may be contacted by the NHS Test and Trace service depending on your test results.
How long should I stay at home?
- If you are experiencing any symptoms, stay at home for 7 days.
- Keep self-isolating if you still have any of these symptoms after 7 days: a high temperature or feeling hot and shivery; a runny nose or sneezing; feeling or being sick; diarrhoea; loss of appetite.
- Only stop self-isolating when these symptoms have gone.
- If you have diarrhoea or you’re being sick, stay at home until 48 hours after these symptoms stop.
- If you live with other people, try to keep away from them as much as possible.
Use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service if you have any of these symptoms:
- high temperature
- new, continuous cough
- loss or change to your sense of smell or taste
- 111 will tell you what to do and help you get a test if you need one.
Who is at risk?
Everyone should do what they can to stop coronavirus spreading. It is particularly important for people who:
- are 70 or over
- have a long-term health condition
- are pregnant
- have a weakened immune system
- have a serious health condition (such as cancer)
- have had an organ transplant and are taking immunosuppressant medicine
Will my Equipsme health insurance plan pay for diagnostic tests for COVID-19?
Our plans do not provide cover for Covid-19 tests because, while we cover the cost of diagnostic tests requested by a specialist recognised by AXA PPP healthcare (after a GP open referral), all treatment related to Coronavirus is coordinate through the NHS. We would therefore suggest you follow government advice, such as here, where the government has rolled out a coronavirus (COVID-19) testing programme for you to book a home test or at a regional site. This test will confirm if you currently have coronavirus and is known as an antigen test.
What impact will the recent announcement about the NHS accessing private facilities have on my Equipsme health plan?
Following the recent NHS agreement with the independent sector to reallocate its national hospital capacity, patients in both the private sector and NHS are affected by delays to non-urgent hospital treatment. However, with unprecedented levels of demand on health services across the UK, Equipsme and all our partners understand the requirement to prioritise resources and focus on the needs of the most vulnerable, as well as the safety of the healthcare professionals who treat patients.
Until all private face-to-face care is available again, our insurers AXA PPP healthcare have set up a ‘virtual’ Clinical Support Centre that will remain in place until the end of the Covid-19 crisis. This support centre brings together a panel of the UK’s leading specialists and practitioners who are all available by telephone, video or online. If your condition is eligible, the team will help signpost Equipsme members to the most appropriate specialist, guiding you to the right support and advice. All without the need for a GP referral letter.
It is also important to remember that Equipsme health plans are not just about treatment in hospital. With 24/7 access to GPs, health support and advice lines, AXA PPP healthcare’s own physio team and help to diagnose what’s wrong, you are able to access the majority of services that are available through your Equipsme health insurance plan.
How is the service I can expect from my Equipsme health plan affected?
All of us are having to adapt to the need to ‘work from home’ more at the moment. That goes for the team at Equipsme and all our partners supporting our members’ benefits under their plans.
Our partners have responded incredibly well to mobilise their customer service teams on a remote basis, where necessary. We are all committed to provide our members with as close to a ‘business as usual’ service as possible. As you might imagine helplines are exceptionally busy so please do make use of the online contact forms for questions and claims, which you can find by logging into your Equipsme member portal here.
Of course, you are free to use the helpline numbers provided as well especially if your query is urgent.
How can my Stress Support cover under the Equipsme health plan help?
You may have other family or financial worries as a result of the current work/life challenges facing us all. If your employer has included Stress Support in your Equipsme plan, our specialist employee assistance partner, Health Assured, is only a phone call away to help with confidential advice and counselling where necessary.
Login here to access your Equipsme account for all the contact details.
What can I do to help reduce the risk?
Wash your hands frequently
- Regularly and thoroughly clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and hot water - do this for at least 20 seconds.
- Always wash your hands when you get home or into work.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze.
- Put used tissues in the bin immediately and wash your hands afterwards.
- Why? Washing your hands with soap and water or using alcohol- based hand rub kills viruses that may be on your hands.
Maintain social distancing
- Try to maintain at least a 2 metre distance between yourself and other people. Where it is not possible to stay 2m apart, keep a distance of 1m plus take other precautions to reduce the risk of transmission
- Avoid close contact with people who have symptoms of coronavirus
- Only travel on public transport if you absolutely need to
- Work from home, if you can
- You can go to pubs, restaurants, theatres and cinemas but you should socially distance from anyone not in your household or bubble
- Avoid events with large groups of people people but if that is not possible, you should consider wearing a mask, maintaining distance, and using hand gel or hand washing is not available.
- Use phone, online services, or apps to contact your GP surgery or other NHS services, and only if you need to
Practice respiratory hygiene
Make sure you, and the people around you, follow good respiratory hygiene. This means covering your mouth and nose with a tissue or bent elbow when you cough or sneeze. Then dispose of the used tissue immediately. Do wear a mask if you’re sick and also if you are taking care of someone with the symptoms.
Stay informed and follow advice
Stay informed on the latest developments about COVID-19. Follow advice given by the government, your public health authority or your employer on how to protect yourself and others from COVID-19.
Keep calm and healthy
- It is normal to feel sad, stressed, confused and scared during a crisis.
- Talk with people you trust. Contact friends and family.
- Maintain a healthy lifestyle - including a good diet, sleep, exercise and social contacts by phone or digital channels.
- Avoid smoking, alcohol or other drugs to deal with your emotions.
- Stay informed through credible sources but limit worry by lessening the time spend watching and listening the media coverage.
- Draw on skills used in the past to help you manage your emotions during challenging times.