Our COVID-19 Response

Sarah Jane Rodriguez

May 20, 2020

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(This article first appeared in the May/June 2020 issue of the American Postal Worker magazine)

On behalf of the APWU Health Plan, I want to thank you for your service to our country through this pandemic. The APWU Health Plan never lost sight of postal employees and how you are at risk during the global spread of COVID-19.

The health of our members is our number one priority. I wanted to share with you how the Health Plan responded to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Health Plan Coverage Enhanced

The Health Plan did not want costs to be a barrier to accessing testing and treatment. Many COVID-19 services are covered at no cost to members. Deductible coinsurance and copayments for certain services are waived.

See highlighted enhancements below:

  • Diagnostic testing for COVID-19 is covered at no cost to members when prescribed by a clinical professional.
  • Prior authorization requirements are relaxed.
  • Virtual visit coverage is also enhanced to provide members access to 24/7 online care at no cost to the member (for most services).
  • We are following the development of the COVID-19 vaccination; when it becomes available, our members will be covered at no cost.
  • We are continuing to evaluate benefit enhancements as a result of COVID-19.


The Health Plan website is always our first line of communication. Navigating the amount of information in circulation can be stressful and overwhelming.

Our website includes clear and concise information regarding our benefit enhancements, and updated information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Lastly, specific health tips from our partners at Cigna, Express Scripts and United Healthcare were also made available.

Information from the website has been mailed directly to members, as necessary. As APWU members, you should visit apwuhp.com and register to get these critical updates via email or view the vital information that is located on the home page.

Social Distancing and Infrastructure

With “social distancing” as an imperative defense to the health care crisis, two important things happened to the Health Plan infrastructure. One, in an abundance of caution to keep employees safe and to follow CDC and Office Personnel Management (OPM) guidelines, many Health Plan employees transitioned to telework. The technology team at the Health Plan worked diligently to prepare employees to work from home. They ordered additional equipment, conducted training and were on-call for questions from the staff.

Two, the demand for telehealth visits increased. As Health Plan members and postal employees, you heard messaging on the use of telehealth over in-person office visits. These messages are on the Health Plan website and communicated by OPM, your human resource representatives, and during various news briefings to the public. This translated to an exponential rise in telehealth use nationally. At the highest peak, we saw areas where requests for visits were up more than 2,000 percent. Because of the transition to telework and increased demand in telehealth, longer than normal wait times were experienced by members that called customer service and/or proceeded with telehealth visits.

Health Plan Reaction

Our primary focus is consistency of service. Addressing the call wait times was accomplished by a massive expansion of hardware and connectivity. Our technology team worked tirelessly so that calls could be answered as close to “normal” conditions as possible. Our telehealth partners were also speeding to market with efforts to prepare the nation for more social distancing, and new clinician and patient interaction. They led fast and widespread efforts to enlist and onboard clinicians onto telehealth systems. Provider enrollment quickly increased to respond to the massive load. The APWU Health Plan relieved pressure points and took a proactive response in anticipation of the pandemic’s increasing health risk.

You are always in good hands! We are honored to serve you during these critical times.

Together. Better Health.

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