The 2019-nCoV coronavirus, believed to have started in a ‘wet market’ in Wuhan, China has quickly spread from China to nearly all major countries around the world. As of January 30th, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) has declared this virus a global public health emergency.
With that said, we’re getting a lot of questions from our health insurance clients about how this might affect them and their coverage. Rather than answering them all individually, this blog post will share a little bit about the facts surrounding this Wuhan virus and more specifically how it relates to your health insurance policy.
What is the Wuhan Virus?
The Wuhan virus hasn’t been given an official name yet but it is a type of coronavirus in the same family as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and the common cold. Because it’s a new strain not previously seen in humans, it’s been called the novel coronavirus (hence the working name n-CoV).
Believed to have originated in the Huanan Wholesale Seafood Market in Wuhan back in December of 2019, it has quickly spread all throughout China and eventually the rest of the world.
The symptoms of the Wuhan virus are very similar to what you would expect in normal seasonal cold and flu viruses. Some of these symptoms include cough, sore throat, runny nose, headaches, fevers, shortness of breath and in more severe cases, pneumonia.
Despite the global panic, the virus is not as deadly as many think. Many scientists believe that the Wuhan virus is milder than SARS and the majority to deaths have been the elderly or those with underlying medical conditions that put them at higher risk.
To put this all in perspective, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that the common flu kills between 12,000 - 61,000 people per year. So while you should take precautions like frequent hand washing, coughing into elbows or tissues and staying away from sick people, most people are not at high risk of contracting let alone dying from the Wuhan virus.
Will My Health Insurance Cover the Wuhan virus?
Yes it will. As long as you purchased your health insurance policy before you have contracted the virus, you will be covered for medical expenses, hospitalization, etc. just like any other illness or injury.
All the standard pre-existing condition exclusions will apply here. The Wuhan virus’ incubation period is estimated to be 14 days (2 weeks) so as long as you purchased your health insurance 14 days before you have symptoms, your health insurance will likely cover you.
The level of coverage you get will of course depend on what you’ve purchased but everything from inpatient/hospitalization to outpatient treatments and prescription drugs would be covered as per the usual practice. Nothing changes with regards to your health insurance coverage just because this is a new virus.
If you have questions about health insurance and the Wuhan virus or need to make a claim under your health insurance policy, don’t hesitate to reach out to us.