As BC’s health benefits society, the health and wellbeing of our members and employees is our top priority. We also recognize the role Pacific Blue Cross plays in the health care of you and your family. As the situation surrounding COVID-19 (coronavirus) continues to evolve, we want to do our part to ensure the health of our community.
COVID-19 is proving to be a great test for us all, but rest assured we continue to operate—just differently. We are following recommendations from the government and health authorities to protect the safety of our employees who serve our clients and members. To support social distancing guidelines and those staying home following travel, we have begun to work remotely.
Our precautionary measures to fight the spread of the virus will have impacts as we deliver our plan:
- Paper claims, calls, and emails will be temporarily delayed.
- Our walk-in centre remains closed.
- Travel emergencies will continue to be handled by calling Medi-Assist.
- Disability payments will be prioritized.
- Payment cheques and direct deposit payments continue to be processed.
- Electronic claims continue without interruption and are fast and easy:
We also ask that you help us fight the spread of COVID-19. By removing paper-based claims from our business we can encourage social distancing, pay you faster, and help the environment. Please use electronic claims and provide your banking information in your member profile.
We are striving to ensure you continue to receive the services and support you require. We’ve created this page with information on the pandemic, answers to questions on your benefits or insurance coverage, details on prescription medications and early refills as well as mental health support to help you manage and navigate these difficult times.
To keep you and your family safe, healthy, and informed on COVID-19, we encourage you to visit the Government of Canada’s coronavirus information. For more local information, go to the BC Centre for Disease Control or your local health authority website.
We will continue to follow the recommended approach from the local health authorities for protection and prevention. And we’ll keep you informed of any updates.
John D. Crawford
President and Chief Executive Officer
Pacific Blue Cross
What can Members do to help?
We ask that you help us fight the spread of COVID-19 by encouraging social and physical distancing. Please remember to go digital and get claims paid directly to your bank account:
- If you already have a Member Profile, sign-in and update your banking information through the Account section
- Don’t have a Member Profile yet? Register today.
- For individually purchased plans to ensure continuous coverage ask us to switch your payments to a credit card
Your health & wellbeing with Pacific Blue Cross
We realize that with all the changes in the world, it can be a difficult time for you and your family. We want you to comfort knowing your group benefits or personally purchased health plan is here for you. These benefits vary from plan to plan and the details can be found anytime on our website or mobile app.
Digital, Virtual & Telehealth Care
As the impact of COVID-19 (coronavirus) continues to evolve, and we fight the spread of the virus through physical distancing – it has changed the way we access health care. Here is a list to help you look after the health and wellbeing of you and your family. Coverage varies from plan to plan so be sure to check your coverage on your Member Profile.
- Registered counselling
- Psychological services
- Naturopathic services
- Speech therapy services
- Physiotherapy - Subsequent treatments
- Chiropractic services - Subsequent treatments
As of April 27, 2020, Pacific Blue Cross will allow the following until further notice.
- Occupational therapy services
- Dietitian services
- Hearing services
- Physiotherapy – Initial treatments
- Chiropractic Services – Initial treatments
Home Delivery of Prescription Medication
Mental Health Support
Health Risk Assessment
Disability Case Management
COVID-19 Information & Self-Assessment
Access a Virtual Clinic
Providers are working closely with the Ministry of Health to offer you safe, in-person services. Learn more about what your experience will look like below.
Dentists and certified dental specialists have received guidelines from the Provincial Health Officer, the College of Dental Surgeons of BC and WorkSafeBC to ensure safe, in-person services.
Pharmacies continue to provide in-person services. Contact your local pharmacy for more information on what to expect for your next visit. Find a pharmacy near you through our Preferred Pharmacy Network.
Managing health and wellbeing during COVID-19
Frequently Asked Questions
As BC’s health benefits society, the health and wellbeing of our members and their families is of paramount importance. Pacific Blue Cross has developed an online resource to help address benefit-related questions we are receiving about the COVID-19 pandemic and your benefits.
If you have group benefits (extended health) plan
What am I covered for under my Extended Health Plan in regards to COVID-19?
Group benefits vary from plan to plan. For details visit your Pacific Blue Cross Member Profile
What am I covered for under the travel insurance provider by my employer through our group extended health plan?
If you have travel insurance provided by your employer through your group extended health plan, be sure to check your benefits and coverage limitations, as well as the government travel advisories for your destination(s) before you travel. Your plan includes a pre-travel service through Medi-Assist which can help provide information on Government Advisories and recommended vaccinations for your destinations. Call 1-888-699-9333 (toll-free within Canada or the US) to learn more.
If you have prescription medication coverage
Can I get early refills on my prescription or buy larger quantities to see me through this crisis?
If you have questions about your prescription(s) please reach out to your pharmacist.
Stocking up on larger quantities of medicines can create challenges for others. Your pharmacist will work with you to determine your best options for early refills and prescription quantities. They will use their best judgment to ensure that everyone gets the medicines they need to support overall health and wellness.
Pacific Blue Cross supports the recommendations put forth by the British Columbia College of Pharmacists determining best practices for Early Refills and Emergency Supplies.
The BC Pharmacy Association has created an information sheet for patients to help you understand the regulations around prescription renewals and emergency refills.
Are you looking for a pharmacy in your area?
Pacific Blue Cross has a robust Preferred Pharmacy Network to support affordable access for your medications.
I take medications that require Prior Authorization. How do I manage authorization renewals?
Pacific Blue Cross recognizes the importance of ensuring members have access to the medications they need, when they need them. We’re also cognizant of abiding by public health officials who are asking us to remain in place and minimize non-essential doctor visits to free up our medical professionals for urgent health care needs.
Pacific Blue Cross is supporting this by providing a temporary extension on coverage for medications that are due for prior approval (special authorization) renewal, and by relaxing criteria that may involve members having to visit a laboratory for non-urgent needs. We are following BC PharmaCare’s lead in this regard. Members submitting new requests for prior approval will still need to meet other criteria on the form.
Some authorizations through the BC PharmaCare Special Authority program that expire between March 19th and July 1st, 2020 will be extended to October 1, 2020. Pacific Blue Cross will honour these extensions automatically. This extension also applies for some drugs requiring Pacific Blue Cross prior approval.
Automatic extensions mean there is no need for members or physicians to submit additional documentation to Pacific Blue Cross.
- Here is a list of special authority drugs that BC PharmaCare has extended authorizations to October 1st.
- Here is a list of drugs requiring Pacific Blue Cross prior approval that have been extended to October 1st.
If you don’t see your drug listed here and have questions about drug coverage, please contact your pharmacist or Pacific Blue Cross to discuss your options.
My prior authority renewal requires me to visit a lab for updated bloodwork. What do I do?
Prior approval criteria that requires members to attend a lab for non-essential bloodwork may be waived, or previous lab results accepted, in order to enable better adherence to social distancing requirements. Patients will still need to meet other clinical criteria as per the individual drug or device.
The accepted timeframe for lab tests will be relaxed for initial approvals for the following drugs:
- Alirocumab (Praluent®)
- Benralizumab (Fasenra®)
- Evolocumab (Repatha®)
- Mepolizumab (Nucala®)
- Omalizumab (Xolair®)
- Reslizumab (Cinquair®)
Do I still need a trial of warfarin in order to be eligible for prior approval of certain anticoagulants?
For Blue RX members, Pacific Blue Cross will align with PharmaCare to modify the criteria for initial coverage of the following anticoagulants so that a prior trial of warfarin therapy and subsequent lab tests will no longer be required. Affected drugs include:
- Rivaroxaban (Xarelto®)
- Apixaban (Eliquis®)
- Edoxaban (Lixiana®)
- Dabigatran (Pradaxa®)
For further details, please refer to BC PharmaCare Newsletter Edition 20-006: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/health/health-drug-coverage/pharmacare/newsletters/news20-006.pdf
If you have Disability Coverage
If you are diagnosed with COVID-19, what do you need to do to get access to your disability benefits?
Claims with a positive COVID-19 diagnosis will be processed and paid based on the regular guidelines. The elimination period will be waived.
If you have been in contact with someone else who has been diagnosed with COVID-19, can you access your disability benefits?
If you have been advised to self-monitor for symptoms because you may have been exposed to someone who is infected but don’t have any symptoms yourself, you will not be eligible for disability benefits. We suggest that you contact the HR department within your organization or apply for EI benefits.
What if my organization decides to suspend operations temporarily, how will the disability benefits come into play?
If your organization decides to suspend operations temporarily and you are asymptomatic, you will not be eligible for benefits. You will need to speak to your organization to discuss payment options.
If you are traveling out of country and hospitalized for recovery and treatment of COVID-19, does the STD elimination period begin and could benefits be paid for a period you are not in Canada?
If you are already out of country when you become ill and are hospitalized for treatment that is medically necessary, the terms of the policy would be met. While the policy may already have 0-day elimination for hospitalization, as an industry, we have agreed to waive the elimination period for eligible COVID-19 claims. If the claim is allowed, the elimination period will be waived but the maximal period considered would be 14 days, subject to the other provisions of the policy.
If you are traveling out of country and are diagnosed with COVID-19 and medically directed to quarantine, does the STD elimination period begin and could benefits be paid for a period you are not in Canada?
As quarantine is the medically necessary treatment for diagnosis of COVID-19, as an industry, we have determined that we will assess self-quarantine claims and consider up to the 14-day maximum. While you are out of country, you would be following instructions of physicians; therefore, this would meet the terms of the policy. If the claim is allowed, the elimination period will be waived, but the maximal period considered would be 14 days, subject to the other provisions of the policy. In this case, the fact that the diagnosis has been made implies that the quarantine has been medically directed (vs. self-quarantine which is not medically directed).
If you are traveling out of country and exposed to COVID-19 and decide to self-quarantine (no diagnosis), does the STD elimination period begin and could benefits be paid for a period you are not in Canada?
An STD claim for quarantine and mild symptoms with no positive COVID-19 test does not meet the definition of disability under the policy and does not qualify for disability benefits. The claim will be denied, and the individual will be redirected to EI.
If you are within Canada and exposed to COVID-19 and decide to self-quarantine (no diagnosis), does the STD elimination period begin and could benefits be paid?
An STD claim for a quarantine with no positive COVID-19 test does not qualify for disability benefits. The claim will be denied, and you will be redirected to EI.
If you are directed to quarantine/self-isolate by the Government or a health care professional, are you eligible for disability benefits?
An STD claim for a directed quarantine with no symptoms is not payable. You should be referred to EI for benefits.
If I have flu-like symptoms, will the waiting period be waived as it is with COVID-19?
If you file a Short Term Disability claim for flu-like symptoms but have not been tested for COVID-19, the case will be processed as a normal STD claim. The waiting period applies. We will accept the updated Plan Member Confirmation of Illness Form (coming soon).
In the event that you are not eligible for disability benefits from your insurance provider, please visit Service Canada for financial support options.
If you have Personal Health Insurance
For details on your personal health insurance plan visit your Pacific Blue Cross Member Profile
If you have individually purchased Travel Medical and/or Trip Protection Insurance from Pacific Blue Cross
Our travel service team is currently experiencing extremely high call volumes due to COVID-19. Travel Medical Insurance members who are no longer travelling due to the ongoing situation are eligible for a refund if the cancellation is received prior to the effective date stated on the certificate, as per the travel policy. To help us action the most time-sensitive service inquiries, we ask that you consider holding off on calling if your scheduled travel date is later than March 31, 2020.
For details on your travel medical or trip protection insurance, be sure to check your benefits and coverage limitations and visit frequently asked questions before you travel. Your plan includes a pre-travel service through Medi-Assist which can help provide information on Government Advisories and recommended vaccinations for your destinations. Call 1-888-699-9333 (toll-free within Canada or the US) to learn more.
Am I covered by trip cancellation or interruption insurance?Important COVID-19 Travel Insurance information
The Government of Canada has issued an official global advisory to avoid non-essential travel (Level 3) outside of the country to limit the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19). As a result, coverage related to Coronavirus (COVID-19) will be affected:
Travel Medical Insurance
For trips that depart on or after March 13, 2020, Coronavirus (COVID-19) related illness will not be covered. You can learn more about how Government travel advisories impact coverage in our Travel Insurance FAQs.
Trip Protection Insurance (Cancellations/Interruptions)
Effective March 12, 2020, we are considering Coronavirus (COVID-19) to be a known event for individually purchased Trip Protection. Travel insurance is intended to cover losses arising from sudden and unforeseeable circumstances. Any claims resulting from events known to a policyholder at time purchasing the trip are not covered.
These conditions will remain in effect until the advisory is lifted or otherwise stated by Pacific Blue Cross.
If you purchased a Trip Protection plan prior to March 12, 2020 you will be covered for trip cancellation or interruption claims related to COVID-19.
When the Canadian government issues an advisory to "avoid all travel" or "avoid non-essential travel" to your destination, that is considered an unexpected situation and is therefore eligible for Trip Protection (cancellation or interruption) benefits. However, your trip must have been purchased PRIOR TO the government issued advisory.
Government Advisory LevelTRAVEL MEDICAL PLAN
Purchased as a stand-alone plan or part of a Package plan, Travel Medical provides coverage for:
TRIP PROTECTION PLAN
- Emergency medical
- Ambulance fees
- Repatriation costs
Purchased as a stand-alone plan or part of a Package plan, Trip Protection provides coverage for:
LVL 1 & 2
- Trip cancellation, interruption, delay
- Air flight accident
- Accidental death & dismemberment
NO IMPACT TO COVERAGELVL 3 & 4Advisory
AFTER DEPARTURE Travel
BEFORE TRIP PURCHASE
Trip cancellation, interruption, delay
AFTER TRIP PURCHASE
Trip cancellation, interruption, delay
Choosing to travel against a Government of Canada Level 3 or 4 advisory invalidates all coverage
This is for illustrative purposes only and does not form part of your contract. Full details are found in the Travel Policy.
Travel Insurance is intended to protect consumers from sudden and unforeseen events that arise and leave them with out of pocket expenses that they did not expect to incur.
When a Level 3 or 4 advisory is issued by the Government of Canada, they are stating that Canadians can expect to experience health or safety concerns and so should not travel.
For any Trip Cancellation benefits, this means that a trip purchased after a Level 3 or 4 advisory is issued cannot be cancelled for the reason of this advisory. This is an expected event.
For any Travel Medical or Interruption/Delay benefits, if you choose to depart on your trip after the Government of Canada has issued a Level 3 or 4 advisory, then all benefits on your plan are invalidated. You are not covered because it is expected that you could experience an issue causing a claim.
When there are Regional Advisories — some parts of your trip are Level 1 and 2, but some parts are 3 or 4 — if you choose to travel to the Level 3 or 4 Advisory region, then none of your benefits will apply. It is expected that you could experience a claim — it is a known event.
When Travel Advisories remain Level 1 or 2, all of your benefits are in force and applied according to the contract. This would include contracting COVID19 during your travel, or being delayed because of quarantine.
This information applies to all of our plans, single trip or annual, stand alone or packaged.
We always recommend that you read your travel policy booklet and check the Government of Canada website prior to any travel, especially when world conditions are changing rapidly.
For any pre-travel trip destination questions such as travel advisory, shots, visas or safety concerns, please contact Medi-Assist who have the most up to date information for your destination.
As always, our customer service representatives are here to help.
What happens if I am quarantined?
A quarantine might happen to an individual who is ill or who has been exposed to someone who is ill, or it may be mandated by geographic region regardless of exposure to an ill person. Quarantines for COVID-19 are not restricted to China; many countries are currently imposing quarantine restrictions.
If you or a travelling companion are quarantined as a result of COVID-19 while you are travelling outside of British Columbia, and your return home is delayed as a result, an exception has been made to the way we provide benefits to assist with commercial accommodation and meals. These benefits may be reduced by any benefits or compensation that you receive from the country of quarantine, or the Government of Canada. To see if you qualify, please confirm with our Medi-Assist team collect at 604-419-4487.
If your travel plan is due to expire while your quarantine is in effect, you must notify us in order to extend your travel dates. For extensions, please call the PBC call centre collect at 604-419-2000 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org before your expiry date.
Remember, as with any other medical incident, you are obligated to call Medi-Assist as soon as possible to report your quarantine so that we can support you through the process.
We recommend that all travelling Canadians sign up with Registration of Canadians Abroad to stay connected with the Government of Canada to receive the most up-to-date information on any emergencies abroad or at home.
I have Trip Protection coverage and have cancelled my trip due to the recent government advisories and I did not receive a full refund, what do I do now?
Please download the following form for more information and/or to make a claim - Trip Cancellation/Baggage Claim Form.
Visiting a destination where there are confirmed cases of COVID-19
Here's some important information about overseas travelling in light of COVID-19 for travel insurance plans individually purchased from Pacific Blue Cross.
To ensure safe, healthy travels please visit the Travel Advice and Advisories issued by the Canadian government for specific destinations around the world.
What to do if you get sick while travelling
If you have one or more of the above symptoms, start by contacting our medical assistance service, Medi-Assist. They can be reached by calling collect to 1-604-419-4487 or 1 888 699-9333 (toll-free) in Canada and the US.
Medi-Assist will assess the symptoms you describe and direct you as needed to a hospital or clinic for the appropriate care. Depending on your situation and needs, they may also:
- Provide simultaneous interpretation to help you communicate with health care personnel
- Advance funds to a service provider if you are required to pay for care up front
- Plan emergency repatriation to your home province if you are hospitalized
- Monitor your case closely until you’ve recovered
During your consultation, inform the physician if you have visited any high-risk areas (a farm, a public market, etc.) or been in contact with any animals or persons who showed symptoms associated with coronavirus.
What if I become ill after I return from a trip?
If you develop symptoms and have travelled to the province of Hubei in China or have been in contact with someone who has:
- Stay at home and avoid contact with others
- Follow up with your health care professional
If you develop fever, cough or difficulty breathing in the next 14 days:
- Call your health care provider or local public health authority.
- Tell them your symptoms and that you were travelling in the province of Hubei, China.
- Let them know whether you have had direct contact with animals or a sick person, especially if they have had symptoms.
If you are ill and must visit a health care professional:
- Call ahead or tell them when you arrive that you have a respiratory illness.
- You may be asked to wear a mask while waiting for or receiving treatment to prevent the spread of the illness.
If you feel sick during travel to Canada or upon arrival:
- Inform the flight attendant, cruise staff or a Canadian border services officer.
- They will decide whether you need further medical assessment by a quarantine officer.
Does my travel insurance cover me for emergency medical care if I visit a country where COVID-19 has been detected?
Yes and no.
It is very important to note that you are not covered for expenses incurred for a medical condition resulting from an infectious disease or illness for which there is a travel advisory or health warning by the Canadian government and published or broadcast in the media prior to the your departure date. As of March 13, 2020 the Canadian government has issued a warning to avoid non-essential travel outside of Canada due to Coronavirus (COVID-19).
If you choose to travel despite this, individually purchased travel medical insurance will continue to cover you for emergency medical care that is not part of a Canadian government travel advisory. Also, if you are sick before your departure, that illness may not be covered by your insurance policy. If you develop symptoms associated with COVID-19 before your vacation, it may be wiser to avoid travelling altogether. For more information, read the clauses about preexisting conditions in your insurance policy closely or contact your insurer.
If you have travel insurance provided by your employer through your extended health plan, be sure to check your benefits and coverage limitations before you travel.
COVID-19 is the name of a disease caused by a new coronavirus that was first reported from Wuhan, China on December 31, 2019. There are now thousands of cases in various countries and regions around the world. The Public Health Agency of Canada has assessed the public health risk associated with COVID-19 as low for Canada. Public health risk is continually reassessed as new information becomes available. There are some confirmed cases in Canada so here are some facts to help keep you and your family safe, healthy and informed.
What is a coronavirus?
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are typically associated with mild illness, similar to the common cold. COVID-19 is a new disease that has not been previously identified in humans. Rarely, animal coronaviruses can infect people, and more rarely, these can then spread from person to person through close contact. For details visit the Canadian Government website on Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): Frequently asked questions (FAQ).
What are the symptoms?
Those who are infected with COVID-19 may have little to no symptoms. You may not know you have symptoms of COVID-19 because they are similar to a cold or flu.
Symptoms may take from 2 to 14 days to appear after exposure to COVID-19. This is the longest known infectious period for this disease.
Symptoms have included:
- Difficulty breathing
- Pneumonia in both lungs
Most people develop only mild symptoms. But some people, usually those with other medical complications, may develop more severe symptoms, which can be fatal.
How do I prevent it?
There are currently no vaccines available to protect you against COVID-19. In general, the following advice can help reduce the risk of infection or spreading infection to others:
- stay home if you are sick
- when coughing or sneezing:
- cover your mouth and nose with your arm to reduce the spread of germs
- dispose of any tissues you have used as soon as possible and wash your hands afterwards
- wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
- avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands
- avoid visiting people in hospitals or long-term care centres if you are sick
If you want to know more visit Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): Prevention and risks.