What You Should Know About Coronavirus Disease

Last updated May 8, 2023

Important Notice: The Biden Administration has announced that May 11, 2023, will be the final day of the COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE) declaration, which has been in effect since January 2020. When the PHE ends, the processing of COVID-19 claims will follow the standard processing of your health plan.

For more information, please visit the COVID-19 PHE Transition Roadmap.

WPS is actively monitoring the current international and domestic environment for COVID-19 as well as the related risks so we can prepare accordingly. On this page, you’ll find links to information about COVID-19, related news, and information on what WPS is doing to help our customers.

Note: The content below is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

Free tests

There may be free at-home COVID tests available (while supplies last). For more information and to order, please visit

On Sept. 1, 2022, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services announced a new program allowing residents to request up to five COVID tests at no cost. Tests may not be available based inventory. For more about this program or to request free test kits, go to the Say Yes! COVID Test website.

Over-the-counter (OTC) at-home COVID-19 tests are not covered for all Medicare members. However, the Department of Health and Human Services has free testing programs available.

If you have Medicare:

Refer to the CMS website for COVID-19 coverage.

If you have a pharmacy benefits administrator other than Express Scripts, please contact them for questions on reimbursement. Supported testing (Say Yes!) are available through May, while supplies last.

What is COVID-19?

It’s a new coronavirus strain that causes respiratory illness. Originating in Wuhan City, China, the virus has infected thousands of people worldwide and caused deaths. Cases have now been reported around the world. The World Health Organization named the disease caused by the new coronavirus on Feb. 11, 2020. The new name is COVID-19, short for “coronavirus disease 2019.”

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

Common signs of infection include:

  • Respiratory symptoms
  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Breathing difficulties

In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure, and death.

People with heart and lung disease or weakened immune systems, as well as infants and older adults, are at higher risk for lower respiratory tract illness.

How is COVID-19 spread?

Human coronaviruses are usually spread from an infected person to others through the air by coughing and sneezing and through close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands.

Find out more:

Will coverage for the COVID-19 immunization include the booster dose?

Immunizations are an essential and highly effective way to prevent infectious disease in large populations. WPS will cover initial doses, as well as an additional booster dose as recommended by your doctor and in accordance with the latest CDC guidelines.

Will the cost of my vaccination be covered?

Under the CARES Act passed in November 2020, individuals with health coverage can get COVID-19 vaccine shots, including a booster dose, and associated administration fees, without any cost sharing. That means you don’t have to pay for the vaccine! Recipients of Medicare can get the vaccine at no charge. The CARES Act does not apply to short-term health plans, so if you have this type of plan, coverage may vary. Check with your health insurer for details.

Note: Health care providers may not seek any reimbursement, including through balance billing, from the vaccine recipient. See the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services website for details.

Is the vaccine safe?

According to the CDC, the vaccine is generally safe. Although there are exceptions, especially for those with certain allergies, the vaccines have undergone rigorous safety testing. Check with your physician to see if the vaccine is safe for you.

The CDC has more information about the vaccination approval process and ongoing safety monitoring. The CDC also has more about the safety and effectiveness of vaccines on its Vaccinate with Confidence page.

When can I get the vaccine?

The CDC recommends that everyone 5 years of age and older get immunized against COVID-19 as soon as possible.

Do I get to choose which vaccine I get?

Probably not, although it could depend on your location and the availability of the vaccines.

How long does it take for the vaccine to work?

The Moderna and Pfizer vaccines require two immunizations given a few weeks apart. The Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccine requires one immunization. Vaccines can take up to several weeks after the final dose to provide protection, so be sure to take precautions after getting immunized.

The duration of the protection is still unknown.

Does the vaccine have side effects?

There can be, but most are mild. The most common are fever, chills, fatigue, headaches, and pain and swelling in the arm where you received the shot. A COVID-19 vaccination cannot give you the coronavirus.

What else can I do to stay safe?

The CDC recommends that you continue to follow its recommended guidelines:

  • Wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth when around others
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • Maintain at least 6 feet of distance from others
  • Avoid crowds
  • Wash your hands frequently

How do I protect myself from coronavirus-related scams?

Unfortunately, scammers have been trying to exploit people during the pandemic. The Medicare website has more information about vaccine-related scams, and the Federal Trade Commission has information about how to protect yourself from other COVID-19 scams.

Note: WPS Medicare supplement customers have access to ScamAssist™ Fraud Review Service* that may help prevent them from being victimized.

Get more information

CDC: Frequently Asked Questions about COVID-19 Vaccination

Wisconsin Department of Health Services: COVID-19 Vaccine: What You Need to Know

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially before eating and after going to the bathroom, blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • If you do not have soap and water, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.

Is a COVID-19 test covered by my insurance?

For people covered by original fee-for-service Medicare, Medicare pays for COVID-19 diagnostic tests performed by a laboratory, such as PCR and antigen tests, with no beneficiary cost sharing when the test is ordered by a physician, non-physician practitioner, pharmacist, or other authorized health care professional. People with Medicare can access one lab performed test without cost-sharing per patient per year without an order. Effective April 2022, people who have Medicare Part B will be able to get up to eight (8) COVID-19 over-the-counter (OTC) tests each calendar month until the end of the COVID-19 public health emergency.

What if I need to be hospitalized for COVID-19?

Medicare covers all medically necessary hospitalizations.

Who at WPS can I call with questions about COVID-19 and my Medicare supplement insurance plan?

You can call the number on the back of your ID card for answers.

Will there be coverage for the COVID-19 vaccine?

Vaccines are an essential and highly effective way to prevent infectious disease in large populations. WPS does cover immunizations as directed.

Are medical supplies such as masks, gloves, and disinfectants covered?

Most of these supplies are not currently covered by Medicare or insurance plans in general.

Stimulus check scams

The Internal Revenue Service urges taxpayers to be on the lookout for a surge of scam phone calls and email phishing attempts about the coronavirus, or COVID-19. The schemes are related to the economic impact payments being issued by the U.S. government.

Read the news release

COVID-19 test kits

Beware of solicitors who try to sell you a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) test kit.

Do not give out personal information

If you are called by anyone other than your attending physician, please do not provide personal or health-related information. Never give your bank or credit card information to any solicitor over the phone.


Given the rapidly evolving nature of this disease, the above guidance is subject to change.


*Fraud review service is not a part of the insurance policy and enrollment is subject to contract renewal. The service provider is not responsible or liable for the availability, safety, accuracy, or effectiveness of the techniques, products, tools, or resources used by the service provider in its ScamAssist™ service and your access and use of ScamAssist™ is entirely at your own risk.

Is your doctor in your network?