As drivers face life on the road moving essential goods, staying healthy becomes a concern
One of the concerns truck drivers face is what to do about their work schedules when they are ill. That issue is paramount now due to the COVID-19 coronavirus and its high transmission rate combined with the need to quickly replenish shelves at stores.
While most who become ill with COVID-19 will recover, that does not help drivers who may be pushing on through the illness, like they do on so many other occasions. How do drivers know if what they have is a seasonal allergy, a cold or COVID-19? And how can they get checked out?
Some truck stops offer health clinics, but another option available to drivers is telemedicine. Telemedicine is becoming a more frequent option in health plans, often saving users a trip to the doctor.
On March 13, President Donald Trump expanded the use of telemedicine by waiving restrictions for Medicare beneficiaries.
“Many [American Telemedicine Association] members are providing solutions that are helping to keep people safe and out of hospitals and doctors’ offices, map the virus, and triage individuals needing medical care,” Ann Mond Johnson, CEO of the ATA, said in a statement. “Telehealth is well-suited to provide one-to-many care that is safe, effective and efficient. We are seeing the significant value telehealth offers, not only in public health emergencies but also in day-to-day care delivery.”
Telehealth is not just for Medicare patients, though. On March 6, CVS announced it would provide coronavirus diagnostic testing and telemedicine visits for Aetna members with no copays. Vice President Mike Pence said UnitedHealth Group, Anthem, Cigna, Humana, Aetna and Blue Cross Blue Shield had all agreed to expand access to telemedicine.
“I’m pleased to report that as you requested, Mr. President, that all the insurance companies here, either today or before today, have agreed to waive all copays on coronavirus testing, and extend coverage for coronavirus treatment in all of their benefit plans,” Pence said.
It’s important to note that drivers should not attempt to use telemedicine options until they consult with their health insurer or their company’s human resources department to determine eligibility.
Telemedicine is not the only option. Mitch Strobin, senior vice president of UrgentCareTravel, the chain that operates the Pilot clinics, said the company had ordered coronavirus test kits for its 13 facilities — 20 per site, the maximum number allowed.
Companies like Konexial are also stepping up. That company planned to launch a new telemedicine service for drivers, GoMedRx, at the Mid-America Trucking Show. With the cancellation of that show, and the rapid spread of the coronavirus, company CEO Ken Evans decided to move up the release of GoMedRx.
The GoMedRx open platform provides nonemergency care for drivers and costs $180 annually. Asked where truck drivers would get tested for coronavirus if they received a physician referral, Evans emphasized the situation is changing rapidly but said he expected doctors to direct drivers to sites being set up by Walmart, Target, Walgreens and CVS Health.
GoMedRx operates in conjunction with telemedicine service provider Everywhere.Care.
Drivers can use GoMedRx immediately after signing up and on average can speak to a telehealth physician in 23 minutes, the company said. Health insurance is not required to join and there are no bills other than the yearly subscription cost, the company said. Mental health and counseling services are also included.
The transmission rate of COVID-19 is high, so drivers could unwittingly transmit the virus to others at warehouse locations or retail stores, the so-called community transmission. Giving drivers treatment options is another way to help slow the spread of the virus, and healthcare companies and insurers are stepping up to provide those options.