Unexpected Illness? Be Sure to Know Your Options for Care

Posted on January 1, 2024

Excellus BCBS logo

SYRACUSE, NY – Excellus BlueCross BlueShield is prepared to assist members with questions about their health benefits and options for care now that WellNow Urgent Care has left their provider network.

The health insurer recommends that members take the following steps before they find themselves unexpectedly sick or injured: 

  • Be sure you have a primary care provider (PCP) who is familiar with your health history and any chronic conditions you may have. You may not spend much time thinking about your doctor unless you are sick, but checking in on your health with routine well-visits can help you prepare for unexpected illness or injury. A great first step is choosing a PCP and seeing them for check-ups.

“Your primary care provider knows you and your family best and should usually be your first call when facing a non-life-threatening medical issue,” explains Lisa Harris, MD, senior vice president, chief medical officer, Excellus BCBS. “Many doctors offer virtual, walk-in or same day visits. They may be able to order services such as an x-ray, refer you to a specialist or arrange other follow up care if needed.”

  • Understand your PCP’s plan and resources for sick visits and afterhours care, including what phone number you should call if you are sick or injured afterhours and if they offer same-day sick visits during regular hours and/or on nights and weekends.
  • Know your options for telehealth. Find out if your PCP offers telehealth visits or if your insurance plan covers this option. Telehealth is a cost effective and convenient option for care for unexpected illnesses such as cold & flu, pink eye, sinus infections, rashes and other skin conditions, as well as many behavioral health conditions. Many Excellus BCBS members have access to MDLIVE® for telemedicine. Virtual care options can also be found on the ExcellusBCBS.com/CareOptions site. You should also check with your local provider who may also offer these services.
  • When your doctor isn’t available, an urgent care center may be an option for non-life-threatening injury or illness such as cuts, fever, flu, sore throat, cough, minor infections, rashes, and back pain. Orthopedic-specific urgent care clinics can often give complete and efficient care on the same day for injuries such as broken bones, strains and sprains. Many urgent care centers also provide a telehealth option. Visit ExcellusBCBS.com/CareOptions for a list of urgent care centers by county.
  • Visits to the hospital emergency department should be reserved for severe illness and injury such as chest pain, shortness of breath, stroke symptoms, traumatic injuries, seizure, loss of consciousness and burns.

Care options in the Central New York area

Several urgent care locations in Onondaga, Oswego, Cayuga, Tompkins and Cortland counties are listed under the “Urgent Care” tab at excellusbcbs.com/careoptions/urgent-care. Members are encouraged to search neighboring counties for options (for example, Oswego Health currently operates two urgent care locations – one in Central Square and one in Fulton) that may be a short distance from them.

Dr. Harris adds, “If your doctor isn’t immediately available, we have a robust network of providers and we want to help you find the care you need.” Excellus BCBS members can visit ExcellusBCBS.com/CareOptions to find the care option that’s right for them.

Excellus BCBS members, know your options

WellNow Urgent Care is no longer in Excellus BCBS’ provider network. Members may pay more for out-of-network care. Many members, however, have benefits that could cover some of the costs. Coverage varies based on benefits.

To learn about their coverage for out-of-network care, members can log in to their online account or Excellus BCBS mobile app to view plan coverage or call the Customer Care phone number on the back of their member card.

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About Excellus BlueCross BlueShield

Excellus BlueCross BlueShield, an independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, is a nonprofit health plan with 1.5 million upstate New York members. The company's mission is to help people live healthier and more secure lives through access to high-quality, affordable health care. Its products and services include cost-saving prescription drug discounts, wellness tracking tools and access to telemedicine. With more than 4,200 employees, the company is committed to attracting and retaining a diverse workforce to foster innovation and better serve its members. It also encourages employees to engage in their communities by providing paid volunteer time off as one of many benefits. To learn more, visit ExcellusBCBS.com.

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