MagnaCare and Mount Sinai Health System Launch Center of Excellence

Mount SinaiNEW YORK (Dec. 15, 2020)

MagnaCare, an administrative services organization helping self-insured employers achieve greater healthcare value, has partnered with the Mount Sinai Health System to develop a Centers of Excellence program for total joint replacement surgery. The program is designed to enhance patient care and experience, while also reducing costs for health plan sponsors and their members.

Through the partnership, MagnaCare will guide its clients’ eligible members to preferred Mount Sinai facilities and providers for total joint replacement procedures. Top Mount Sinai clinicians will perform the surgery and all associated services — from pre-surgical office visits to follow-up care and physical therapy — under a single, bundled payment. In addition, each member will be connected to a Mount Sinai Care Guide who will provide personalized support to help members navigate their care journey, including providing information about their procedure, coordinating any pre-surgery testing requirements, and securing free transportation and other post-surgery needs.

“Our customers rely on MagnaCare to develop innovative solutions that deliver better service, improved health outcomes, and enhanced value for their members,” said Michelle Zettergren, President of Labor at MagnaCare. “By partnering with Mount Sinai to develop a Center of Excellence for total joint replacement surgery, we can promote positive patient outcomes while removing much of the burden and financial uncertainty that so often come with complex care. Members will have peace of mind knowing that they’re in good hands and won’t have to deal with unpredictable or out-of-network costs.”

Mount Sinai is an integrated health care system encompassing the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, eight hospital campuses in the New York metropolitan area and a large, regional ambulatory footprint. The health system has been awarded Advanced Certification in Total Hip and Knee Replacement surgery from the Joint Commission.

“We are convinced Centers of Excellence are a better way to provide complex, scheduled surgical services, and we’re proud to partner with MagnaCare to launch this new program,” said Lucas Pauls, Labor Lead for Mount Sinai Health Partners. “By working together, we can ensure access to high-quality care for joint replacement while eliminating surprise bills and confusion about benefits or out-of-pocket costs.”

About MagnaCare

For nearly three decades, New York-based MagnaCare has been building healthy communities together with Taft-Hartley trusts, TPAs, carriers, and workers’ compensation and no-fault payors. Its wholly owned networks, full health plan management services, trust and welfare administration services, comprehensive in-house medical management, and leading outcomes-based casualty solutions offer the ultimate flexibility and customization that help self-insured customers control healthcare costs, improve health, and achieve exceptional value. MagnaCare is a division of Brighton Health Plan Solutions, LLC. Learn more at

About Mount Sinai

The Mount Sinai Health System is dedicated to serving New York City’s labor market, and has created a dedicated team to do just that. Mount Sinai’s Commercialization team has assembled the system’s clinical and population health assets into product offerings tailored to meet labor unions’ needs. Mount Sinai’s initial product portfolio includes specialty care bundles and worksite health centers (on-site and near-site) plans – all which are supported by a navigation team.

Mount Sinai is the largest academic medical system in New York City, encompassing eight hospitals, a leading medical school, and a vast network of ambulatory practices throughout the greater New York region. Mount Sinai is a national and international source of unrivaled education, translational research and discovery, and collaborative clinical leadership ensuring that we deliver the highest quality care—from prevention to treatment of the most serious and complex human diseases. Mount Sinai includes more than 7,200 physicians and features a robust and continually expanding network of multispecialty services, including more than 400 ambulatory practice locations throughout the five boroughs of New York City, Westchester, and Long Island. Learn more at

Media Contact:

Erin George, Lovell, 615-946-9914, [email protected]



Seattle-based SEIU 775 Benefits Group chooses MagnaCare’s new and expanded technology-powered Trust and Welfare Administration Services

NY-based TPA continues its nationwide growth with launch of additional services

SEIU 775 Benefits GroupNEW YORK (November 11, 2020) – MagnaCare, a third party administrator with deep expertise supporting Taft-Hartley trusts, today announced Seattle-based SEIU 775 Benefits Group has chosen MagnaCare’s new and expanded Trust and Welfare Administration Services to enable contribution accounting, financial administration, employee hours administration, enrollment and eligibility determination, and COBRA administration. SEIU 775 Benefits Group will partner with MagnaCare to support its Health Benefits Trust, offering high-value, high-impact health benefits to more than 53,000 caregivers in Washington State and Montana.

For 30 years, MagnaCare has been a trusted provider of third party administration services to self-insured groups. A nationally recognized leader in health benefit solutions, MagnaCare conducts business in all 50 states. In this new relationship, MagnaCare will provide technology-powered Trust and Welfare Administration Services to SEIU 775 Benefits Group.

“MagnaCare has always had strong reputation as a reliable and responsive partner for self-insured health plan administrators. Over the past several years, we have been heavily investing in our innovative healthcare technology platform to power the additional services that our clients expect from us,” said Michelle Zettergren, President, Labor. “We are proud to launch our new and expanded Trust and Welfare Administration Services nationally, designed in partnership with SEIU 775 Benefits Group. MagnaCare looks forward to continue to grow and innovate to serve even more Taft-Hartley trusts across the country.”

“We were looking for an innovator in benefits administration, with creative solutions, who will partner with us to help our Health Benefits Trust better serve our caregivers,” said Laura Reding, Managing Director of SEIU 775 Benefits Group Health Benefits Trust. “MagnaCare’s deep knowledge of healthcare combined with its agile technology platform makes them the perfect partner to help us administer the Health Benefits Trust and support the health of frontline, essential caregivers.”

About MagnaCare

For nearly three decades, New York-based MagnaCare has been building healthy communities together with Taft-Hartley trusts, TPAs, carriers, and workers’ compensation and no-fault payors. Its wholly owned networks, full health plan management services, trust and welfare administration services, comprehensive in-house medical management, and leading outcomes-based casualty solutions offer the ultimate flexibility and customization that help self-insured customers control healthcare costs, improve health, and achieve exceptional value. MagnaCare is a division of Brighton Health Plan Solutions, LLC. Learn more at

Never had a flu shot before? Make this year your first.

It’s not too late to get the flu shot. In fact, never has it been more important.

Five Reasons Why You Should Get Your Flu Shot:

1. You never forget the flu.

It can be miserable. It can also be deadly. People with flu can experience symptoms such as high fever, severe muscle ache, lack of energy, chills, cough, and congestion. Complications of flu can include bacterial pneumonia, ear infections, sinus infections, and worsening of chronic medical conditions. In the 2019-2020 flu season, 39-56 million people got the flu and 29,000-62,000 died.

2. It’s an effective vaccine.

The vaccine reduces your chance of infection. If you do still catch the flu, the flu shot will likely lower your risk of complications, severe illness, or death. While it’s good to get the flu shot early, you can get the flu vaccine anytime during the flu season, which typically lasts from October through March and sometimes as late as May. In order of cost-effectiveness, the best location to get the flu vaccine is at a local pharmacy such as Walgreens or CVS, followed by a retail clinic, and then the physician’s office.

3. You don’t want COVID-19 and the flu at the same time.

Both these viruses target your lungs, which means you can get sicker than if you had just one virus alone.

4. The flu spreads easily and anyone can get it, including healthy people.

Mostly the viruses influenza A and influenza B cause the flu. Both viruses have strains that mutate often, so every year new flu vaccines are released based on which flu strains are currently in circulation. This is why you need to get the flu shot every year.

5. It can keep you out of the hospital.

Because the flu season coincides with a pandemic, there may not be enough healthcare resources to support a large influx of both flu and COVID-19 patients simultaneously. In the 2019-2020 flu season, 410,000-740,000 flu patients were hospitalized.

The CDC recommends that children over 6 months old and adults should get the flu shot. Flu shots are available at most pharmacy chains, and they’re no cost with most insurance.

Premium holidays are no reason to celebrate

City & State logoA premium holiday is where health insurance companies forego premiums when claim volume is low, since by law, insurance companies are obligated to spend 80% of premiums on medical expenses. But even in normal years, health insurance companies’ projections are typically too high. A more cost-effective approach for companies is to self fund their health plans, where they pay according to utilization. Read more

Waterbury Health joins the trend

Waterbury HEALTH in Connecticut recently became part of an integrated delivery network set up by Brighton Health Plan Solutions, a New York-based company that brokers healthcare services between providers and employers.

In an integrated delivery network, or IDN, employees can receive their medical care exclusively from one health system. “IDNs have been around for some time,” said Robin Brand, senior director of research for The Advisory Board, a best practices research firm for the healthcare industry. “There’s been more interest in them in the past couple of years.”

One key feature of an IDN is that a patient’s care is better coordinated between providers that belong to the same network. From the patient’s perspective, it feels like a very different experience and the care is more integrated. And “if you have better coordination, you’re going to have fewer repeat tests or a lack of follow-up that could end up in higher costs down the line,” Brand said.

Read more (subscription required)

Antibody Testing Options

Antibody testing is a way to find out if you had COVID-19 and recovered. (Learn more about antibody testing.) If you’re interested in getting tested for COVID-19 antibodies, here are your best options:

Primary Care Doctor

Your doctor may offer to do the blood draw in the office. Please be sure to request that the sample be sent to a free-standing lab participating in your health plan, not to a hospital lab. There is no member cost share for the blood test or the accompanying provider visit.

Free-Standing Labs

You can visit an in-network, free-standing lab (such as a BioReference Laboratories, Labcorp, or a Quest Diagnostics patient service center) for the blood draw. A prescription is required. To obtain a prescription, contact your primary care doctor. If you do not have a primary care doctor, you can contact any primary care doctor in the MagnaCare or Create network (depending on your plan). There is no member cost share for the blood test or the accompanying provider visit.

Self-Pay Testing

Otherwise, you can choose to self-pay and schedule an antibody test directly through LabCorp or Quest Diagnostics or other self-pay providers. You are responsible for the full cost at the time of the test if you choose this option. These direct-to-consumer options are NOT covered under health plans, including the MagnaCare or Create health plans, and cost significantly more than the insurance rates. There are no FDA-authorized antibody home testing kits at the moment.

While urgent care centers and hospitals do also offer antibody testing, keep in mind that these providers cost the plan significantly more to cover. You may also have more exposure to people sick with COVID-19 at urgent care centers or hospitals. For these reasons, we encourage you to instead call a primary care doctor for the prescription and visit a free-standing lab to safely get tested for COVID-19 antibodies.

Why more companies are switching to self-funded health plans

As healthcare costs continue to spiral out of control, employers are increasingly looking to self-fund their employee healthcare benefits.

With fully insured health plans, you pay a monthly premium to a health insurance company. Once the insurance company wins your business, it’s not unusual to be hit with a double-digit premium rate increase the following year. That explains why employers shop around for a new health insurer every three years, on average.

Self-funded health plans are not health insurance. You don’t pay premiums to an insurance company, and you don’t submit your claims to them. Rather, you set aside a certain amount for funding your employees’ healthcare claims. And you purchase stop-loss insurance to cover unanticipated high claims costs. Typically you would use a third party administrator (TPA) to manage your claims and advise you on your health plan.

5 advantages of self-funding over fully insured health plans:

1. Full transparency

Self-funded groups can access IT tools and services that makes it easy to analyze claims data. Having a direct window into the claims you are funding guides you to timely and targeted decisions that can improve your members’ health and well-being and control costs.

2. Cost savings

Self-funded benefit plans reduce your premium tax, immediately saving you 2-3% on the cost of the plan. Self-funded plans are subject only to the federal Employee Retirement and Income Security Act (ERISA) so there are no state mandate costs. Your TPA will negotiate fees with providers, and will arrive at reasonable reimbursements for services that offer significant savings over an employer’s typical fully insured plan. TPAs will also audit bills and implement other cost-saving programs. For example, MagnaCare’s innovative Redirection of Care programs find more convenient, lower cost, high-quality sites of service for your health plan member to receive the care they need.

3. Flexibility over covered services

Fully insured groups are subject to the insurer’s discretion and their specific population’s needs may not be met. In contrast, self-insured employers have the authority at any time to make informed changes to their covered services to ensure their population receives the care they need. This capability has proved especially helpful in times of change or economic downturn.

4. Better control over finances

With a fully insured plan, you pay the full premium regardless of actual claims. If claims don’t materialize, you don’t receive a refund. But with self-funded plans, you pay only for services received by your employees. And when eligible medical claims for a plan year do not exceed a predetermined limit, the plan keeps those dollars and they can be used to offset the following year’s expenses or reduce contribution levels.

5. Easier administration and lower operational costs

Your TPA approves or renegotiates claims, decides appeals, and handles other time-consuming administrative tasks. Overall administrative costs for a self-funded program handled by a professional TPA such as MagnaCare are usually lower than costs charged by the insurance carrier.

Contact us to see how much your company can save by self-funding your healthcare benefits. We’ll design a plan tailored to your employees’ needs. Our team of healthcare actuaries will work with you to help you determine the level of coverage you require, based on your historical claims data.

A Path to a Return to Normal

As we continue to adjust to the COVID-19 pandemic, I am regularly impressed by displays of our clients’ dedication to their members’ health and safety. Return-to-work, or continue-to-work, can pose challenges. But with the right precautions in place, organizations can build their path to normal.

The CDC offers a number of recommendations for workplaces to prevent and reduce transmission among workers, including:

  • Educate employees about how to protect themselves at home, at work, and when commuting
    to work, and inform them of any new workplace policies or procedures.
  • Actively encourage sick employees to stay home and notify their supervisor if sick or have been
    exposed to someone who is sick.
  • Consider conducting private, daily, in-person or virtual health checks for symptoms or a
    temperature screening before employees enter a facility. Conduct them safely, respectfully,
    and in accordance with social distance guidelines, local and State public health guidelines, and
    guidance from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
  • Identify where and how workers might be exposed to COVID-19 at work and limit the spread
    of the virus by looking at an appropriate combination of engineering controls, regular cleaning
    and disinfection, workplace administrative policies, face coverings, and personal protective equipment.
  • Separate sick employees who appear to have symptoms when they arrive to work or become sick during the day from others and send them home or to a healthcare provider safely.
  • Take action to disinfect and close of any areas used by an employee suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19 and inform impacted employees about their possible exposure, but maintain employee confidentiality.

Check the CDC for more information on their recommendations. You can also refer to OSHA which has prepared detailed guidance for employers with steps to take according to the exposure risk.

As another sign of the region reopening, we are now seeing hospital claim volume picking back up as hospitals resume normal operations and reinstate elective surgeries in regions cleared to do so by the Department of Health. In the New York metro area, Westchester, Rockland, Suffolk, and Nassau County hospitals, in addition to many counties in upstate New York, have restarted elective procedures and ambulatory care this month, after these counties met the State’s criteria. New Jersey hospitals will be allowed to resume elective surgeries and invasive procedures on May 26. In all cases, procedures will resume according to policies issued by each individual State.

MagnaCare and BioReference Laboratories Bring COVID-19 Antibody Testing to New York Labor Groups

Collaboration supports return-to-work planning for key workforce groups

NEW YORK, May 18, 2020 – MagnaCare, today announced a collaboration with BioReference Laboratories, Inc., an OPKO Health company (NASDAQ: OPK), to bring COVID-19 antibody testing to their Labor clients in the New York metropolitan area. Through this collaboration with BioReference Laboratories, MagnaCare will offer on-site antibody blood testing to Labor members, delivering valuable information as the city, employers and individuals plan return-to-work strategies.

“As New York’s coronavirus outbreak has continued to unfold, our Labor partners have been eager for information and guidance on COVID-19 antibody testing — particularly since skilled trade groups will be among the first to return-to-work and begin re-energizing the local economy,” said MagnaCare President Michelle Zettergren. “Antibody testing can support decision-making about back-to-work procedures and safety measures for protecting workers and the public. We’re proud to bring this service to our clients so they have more knowledge, and hopefully some peace of mind, in this challenging environment.”

BioReference Laboratories, which recently worked with New York State and New York City to provide COVID-19 antibody testing, offers a blood test that measures SARS-CoV-2 specific antibody levels to help determine an individual’s immune response after COVID-19 infection. Although the presence of antibodies are typically associated with immunity, the scientific community is still working to understand what level of antibodies might be needed for protection from reinfection with COVID-19, and how long that protection might last.

The collaboration will begin with on-site testing for the District Council 9 of the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT) on May 18-20. The on-site testing is available to DC 9 members, who must go online to pre-register and schedule their test. The cost will be fully covered by the union, and results will be emailed directly to members within 72 hours.

“Our goal is to get our members back to work with comfort and confidence,” said Joseph Azzopardi, Business Manager and Secretary Treasurer of DC 9. “We’re grateful to MagnaCare for providing a convenient testing option so we can all decide how best to move forward in the days and weeks ahead.”

MagnaCare is also working with some of its other New York-based Labor partners to establish additional on-site testing locations this month.

About MagnaCare

For 30 years, MagnaCare has been building healthy communities together with Taft-Hartley Funds, TPAs, carriers, and workers’ compensation and no-fault payors in the New YorkNew Jersey, and Connecticut tri-state area. Its broad and wholly owned network, full health plan management services, comprehensive in-house medical management, and leading outcomes-based casualty solutions offer the ultimate flexibility and customization that help customers control healthcare costs, improve health, and achieve exceptional value. MagnaCare is a division of Brighton Health Plan Solutions, LLC.

About BioReference Laboratories, Inc.

BioReference provides comprehensive testing to physicians, clinics, hospitals, employers, government units, correctional institutions and medical groups.  The company is in network with the five largest health plans in the United States, operates a network of 10 laboratory locations, and is backed by a medical staff of more than 160 MD, PhD and other professional level clinicians and scientists.  With a leading position in the areas of genetics, women’s health, maternal fetal medicine, oncology and urology, BioReference and its specialty laboratories, GenPath and GeneDx, are advancing the course of modern medicine.  For more information, visit

Media Contact for MagnaCare:

Erin George
[email protected] 

Media Contact for BioReference Laboratories:

Hillary Titus
[email protected]

Staying Safe as the Region Reopens

As governments begin to lift stay-at-home orders and reopen sectors of the economy, you may be wondering how you can continue to stay safe. Practicing recommended CDC guidelines will be key to protecting your health. Please note, the information below does not substitute for medical advice.

The healthcare community’s understanding of the symptoms of COVID-19 has developed over the course of the pandemic. The CDC now advises people to look for the loss of taste or smell, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fever, chills, muscle pain, and/or sore throat. Some people with COVID-19 have also reported nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea. These symptoms can appear as mild or severe 2–14 days after exposure to the virus. If sick, call ahead to a healthcare provider to review your symptoms and seek care early if you are immunocompromised, older, or have underlying medical conditions. Seek care immediately if the symptoms are severe.

The virus is spread mainly from person to person. Maintaining a safe social distance from others and wearing a cloth face covering over the nose and mouth remain important safety precautions as states reopen. Washing hands frequently with soap and water and avoiding touching the face are also essential for reducing your risk of illness.

In addition, the CDC strongly recommends routinely cleaning and disinfecting surfaces that are touched often, such as tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, phones, desks, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks. It’s important that you understand how to safely use disinfectant products, which can cause severe harm if used improperly.

Disinfectants do not work instantly and most products will recommend pre-cleaning surfaces with soap and water to improve the disinfectant’s effectiveness. The product will typically list how many minutes it must sit on a surface before you wipe it clean and which surfaces it can be applied to; bleach disinfectants are not safe on fabrics. When using bleach-based products, take safety precautions like wearing gloves and ventilating the room. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) lists on its website the products that meet its criteria for disinfecting SARS-Cov-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The EPA also issued a memo reminding the public to never apply disinfectants to yourself or others or on food, never ingest disinfectant products, and never mix products. Read the warning label carefully and follow instructions on the EPA registered disinfectant products.

The high demand for disinfectant products has made it difficult for many people to find these products on shelves or online. If necessary, check the CDC for its instructions on how to safely make disinfectant from diluted, unexpired household bleach for use on hard surfaces. Follow instructions very carefully. The CDC, however, discourages the use of homemade hand sanitizers, which can be ineffective and cause skin burns if made incorrectly. Hand-washing is best, and if you are unable to wash, then use an FDA approved alcohol-based hand sanitizer which lists 60% alcohol on its label.

Some of you may have questions about how to safely handle packages and shopping for essentials like groceries. Packaging is not thought to be the main way that COVID-19 transmits because the coronavirus survives poorly on packaging. But if you wish, according to the FDA, wipe down packaging and the surfaces it touched and allow them to air dry. And the CDC recommends washing hands or using hand sanitizer after accepting deliveries or mail.

Avoid shopping when you are sick. When you do go shopping, prepare a list in advance and wear a cloth mask (some stores may require it). If using reusable bags, clean and wash before every use. Keep at least 6 feet between you and others and wipe down the handles of the shopping cart; avoid touching your face and use touchless payment if possible. If you must touch any uncleaned surface directly, use hand sanitizer afterward. At home, wash your hands before and after handling your purchases. For groceries, follow general food safety practices as usual, such as rinsing fruits and vegetables, immediately refrigerating or freezing perishables, and cleaning kitchen counters regularly. For more information on shopping for food, check the FDA website, and for advice on running other essential errands like getting gas and deliveries, visit the CDC.

How You Can Access COVID-19 IgG Antibody Testing

Earlier this week we shared with you some background on blood tests to detect COVID-19 antibodies. Here is some additional information about antibody testing. As always, the following does not substitute for medical advice and is for informational purposes only.

COVID-19 IgG Antibody Testing Differs From COVID-19 Diagnostic Testing In Several Important Ways

Both diagnostic and IgG antibody tests require a physician order when performed through a lab, and cost-sharing for both is waived by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. Here’s where the two tests differ:

COVID-19 Diagnostic Testing

COVID-19 IgG Antibody Testing

Purpose of Test




To confirm a current, active infection



To identify those who had COVID-19 in the past. Many people have mild or no symptoms, and may not have been diagnosed.


Sample collected



Respiratory secretions from the back of the nasal cavity


Blood sample


How the sample is collected


Nasopharyngeal swab


Blood draw


Type of test






Molecular test: looks for COVID-19’s viral genetic material





Serological test: examines the blood serum for IgG antibody proteins which develop in the body a few weeks after an infection starts. IgG antibodies help fight off an infection and stay in the body for a long time after recovery.


Who the test is intended for




You believe you have COVID-19 currently or have been exposed to it recently



You are unsure if you had COVID-19 in the past



Who should not be tested







You should review your COVID-19 symptoms and exposure with a doctor to see if testing is recommended





Don’t take this test if you want to diagnose COVID-19, or you currently have symptoms of COVID-19, or you think your COVID-19 infection or exposure started within the past two weeks (the IgG antibodies take time to appear so they may not show up on the test if done too soon)


When to take the test




You are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or your doctor or a health official recommends it based on your exposure to COVID-19


Wait at least two weeks since you were last infected or exposed to COVID-19 to take the test. Required wait period may vary by lab.


What the results mean






A positive diagnostic test result indicates you have a current COVID-19 infection





A positive IgG antibody test result means you have antibodies that likely resulted from COVID-19. An antibody test given too early could come back negative even if you had the virus because of the time it takes for the IgG antibodies to appear.



The antibody test does not tell you if you have an active infection. So, regardless of the result, you will still need a diagnostic test to confirm an active infection. Please note, the testing labs may have different testing requirements than those listed above.

Ways Members Can Access Antibody Testing

There are several antibody testing options currently available. A prescription is necessary for the test so if you want to get tested for antibodies you should contact your doctor for a test script.

The most cost-effective locations for testing will be through free-standing labs rather than through hospital labs. A primary care physician (PCP) can write a prescription for you to visit a lab’s patient service center (such as a BioReference Laboratories, Labcorp, and Quest Diagnostics patient service center) for the blood draw. Some PCPs may do the blood draw at their office and send the sample to a lab for analysis; you should request that it be sent to a free-standing, MagnaCare-participating lab rather than a hospital lab which will be much higher in cost.

If you do not have a PCP, you can contact a PCP in the MagnaCare network, a telemedicine vendor you have in your plan, or a self-pay telemedicine vendor like those listed here.  Keep in mind that antibody tests ordered or drawn at urgent care centers, hospital-affiliated providers or hospital-affiliated labs will cost the plan more than those ordered by a PCP and sent to a free-standing participating lab.

Otherwise, you can choose to self-pay and schedule an antibody test directly through LabCorp or Quest Diagnostics. You would be responsible for the full cost. These direct-to-consumer options are NOT covered under insurance and cost significantly more than the insurance rates. There are no FDA-authorized antibody home testing kits at the moment.

Reliability of Antibody Testing

According to the CDC, it’s unclear right now if the COVID-19 antibodies provide protection (immunity) against reinfection. Research is underway to confirm if COVID-19 antibodies offer some level of protection as expected.

Many antibody tests are appearing on the market, but they vary in their accuracy. Antibody tests available through BioReference Laboratories, Labcorp and Quest Diagnostics (MagnaCare-participating labs) are said by the labs to meet their standards for specificity and sensitivity. As with any tests, false positives and false negatives are possible.

We hope you find this information helpful as we approach the next phases of our country’s coronavirus response.

COVID-19 Antibody Testing: What You Should Know

COVID-19 diagnostic testing has now been available for several weeks to test for active COVID-19 infections. You might now be hearing about COVID antibody tests, also called serology tests. Results from this blood test might help indicate who has, and how many people have had COVID-19 in the past.

What are antibodies?

In response to an infection, your immune system creates two special proteins called IgM and IgG antibodies. IgM appears first, and then IgG. Usually, the IgG antibodies can still be found in the blood and other tissues for a long time after the infection. The next time the body is exposed to that same infection, the IgG antibodies will try to fight off that infection but there are minimum antibody levels typically needed for true immunity.

The COVID-19 IgG antibodies usually develop 1-3 weeks after infection (the timeline seems to vary depending on whether the person showed symptoms of COVID-19 or not). The COVID-19 antibody test takes a sample of your blood and looks for IgG antibodies specific to COVID-19. The blood test will identify if you have IgG antibodies and should also measure the amount of antibodies. Results are usually available within 72 hours.

What do the testing results mean?

At the moment, antibody blood testing alone should not be used to confirm an active, positive COVID-19 infection; for that you will still need a COVID-19 diagnostic swab test. According to the CDC, a positive antibody blood test result shows you have antibodies that likely resulted from COVID-19. If you have a negative antibody blood test result, it could mean a number of things: you did not have a previous COVID-19 infection, or you have a current infection and the IgG antibodies have not appeared yet in your blood (which is why the NYS DOH recommends waiting at least 21 days before testing for antibodies if you were previously diagnosed with COVID-19 from the nasopharyngeal swab test).

It’s not yet clear how much immunity from reinfection the COVID-19 antibodies provide and for how long, but the COVID-19 antibodies are expected to generally behave the same way antibodies have acted with other types of coronaviruses and offer some level of protection. Over the upcoming weeks, we expect to hear more complete information about antibody effectiveness from emerging studies on COVID-19 immunity. Check with the CDC or local Departments of Health for the latest on immunity research and current recommendations around antibody testing.

How can you get antibody testing?

Just as with COVID-19 diagnostic testing, antibody testing is covered by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act and there is no cost-sharing for the provider visit or the test.

Many commercial antibody tests are appearing on the market, but they could vary in their accuracy. The information on testing is still developing. We’ll continue to share more insights as we learn more.

Innovative Approaches to Lowering Group Health Care Costs

With the ongoing economic and business impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, many Labor Funds and employers are facing unprecedented challenges regarding their members’ healthcare coverage. Below are some strategies self-funded group plans can consider to continue to offer robust healthcare benefits:

Benefit Changes – Changes in plan design, such as including care redirection, can help lower costs.

Tiered Benefits – Tiered benefit design can also reduce your healthcare costs by directing members to preferred high-quality, low cost providers. With this plan design approach with MagnaCare, members still have access to all of the providers in our full 220,000+ PPO network, but they will pay lower copays and cost shares if they choose the preferred providers. Savings for organizations can be anywhere from 5-20% depending on geography, utilization, and plan design.

Low Cost Limited Benefit Plans – Minimum Essential Coverage (MEC) are low-cost plans that give organizations an affordable path to providing healthcare coverage. MagnaCare MEC comes in three customizable varieties:

  • Basic MEC offers preventive coverage, such as well visits and screenings.
  • MagnaCare Enhanced MEC also covers preventive care, as well as urgent care visits, x-rays and labs.
  • MagnaCare Mini-Med plans include all the benefits of Enhanced MEC, plus ER, outpatient, and inpatient benefits.

Enhanced MEC and Mini-Med also give the option to add telemedicine, dental, and vision benefits. These limited-benefit, lower cost, alternative coverage plans can be offered to the members you choose, in conjunction with current plan options, or they can replace current benefits.

Contact us about these and other cost-saving approaches to your group health plan.


Creative Ways to De-stress and Stay Occupied during COVID-19

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread, it has completely transformed our normal routines. Though we’re mostly confined to our homes, there are still ways to stay active and maintain social connections throughout the upcoming weeks. We have compiled a few ideas for activities and ways to stay connected with people to help you take care of your health and well-being during these trying times.

The following list is not exhaustive, but we hope it fuels your imagination. Please note, MagnaCare has no affiliation with, nor implies endorsement of, the organizations and resources listed below. The resources below do not substitute for medical advice. It’s important to consult with a healthcare provider if you are concerned about your physical and/or mental health and well-being.

Ideas and activities to try:

  • De-stress and practice mindfulness. The anxiety caused by the uncertainty of this pandemic is understandable. Take breaks from news on COVID-19 and exercise your mind by starting or finishing the craft project you’d set aside, cooking something new or special, reading those books you’ve been meaning to get to, tackling that 1000 piece puzzle you bought a year ago, tending to an indoor garden, or trying any other pursuit that you enjoy. Meditation and mindfulness practices are another way to practice self-care, by encouraging you to become more aware of your thoughts, emotions, and breathing. Here are just a few of the free tools available to you now, to help you stay calm and resilient during this crisis:
    • Deepak Chopra and Oprah are currently offering 21 free days of meditation.
    • The Mindful Movement channel on You Tube offers free meditations, yoga classes, and Pilates classes.
  • Stay physically active. Physical exercise can not only help you stay fit, but it can also help you cope with stress. Ask your gym or studio if it is offering live video streaming options. Check out fitness companies and apps that you’ve always wanted to try and see if they are offering a free trial or extending their typical free trial period for online classes. A couple of the companies offering on-demand or live streaming classes today:
    • Orange Theory – Daily 30 minute workouts using household objects.
    • Barry’s Bootcamp – Tune into Barrys Instagram for twice-daily 20 minute at-home workouts on Instagram Live.
    • Nike Training Club – Nike has made all of its Training Club premium home workouts free until further notice.
  • Connect with friends and family. Social distancing doesn’t mean you can’t gather with friends and family for birthdays, coffee, or game night. In fact, staying connected, even if it’s through virtual interactions, is more important than ever to minimize the emotional strain of isolation. There’s no lack of apps and services that allow you to meet up in groups, each of which offers unique capabilities and limitations. Here are just a few:
    • Add up to 32 callers using Group Facetime on Apple devices.
    • Whatsapp video group chats can be made over Wi-Fi with up to four callers.
    • Go face-to-face with Facebook Messenger with up to six callers on video chat.
    • Chat on video with up to 50 people on Skype.
    • Google Duo supports up to eight person group video calls.
    • Leave video messages and revisit conversations on Marco Polo.
    • The Houseparty app allows you to put together a virtual party with up eight guests with whom you can chat and play games and quizzes.
    • If you’re missing your movie nights with friends, host a watch party, and try the Chrome plugin Netflix Party which lets you group chat while watching a show together.
  • Learn a new language. Picking up a new skill can help your pass the time and keep you mentally active.
    • Duolingo: A language learning app that’s free to use with upgrades at a cost.
    • Babbel: K-12 and college students can use the learning app for free for three months.
  • Fill your craving for culture. Visit your favorite museum’s website to see what they are offering to the public during this crisis. Several museums and galleries are showcasing their collections online, such as those listed below.
  • Travel around the world without stepping outside.
    • Take virtual tours of iconic sites and landmarks around the world.
  • Couch surf the outdoors.
  • Peek into zoos and aquariums. See what your favorite animals are up to behind closed doors.
    • Live webcam focused on the Georgia Aquarium’s habitats for underwater animals such as beluga whales and sea lions.
    • Live videos of some of the San Diego Zoo’s favorite animals, including elephants, tigers, and more.
  • Take an online course. Online learning is a productive way for you to pass the time, learn something new, or accelerate your career. Access free and paid courses from top universities across the country through online learning platforms like Coursera or Edx. Several of their courses allow you to audit (follow along for free). If you’d like a verified course certificate and/or want to participate in assignments and receive a grade, fees may apply.
  • Distance learning for your kids. With schools closed for weeks or months, you may be finding yourself in the difficult position of working, parenting, and teaching all in the same space. Here are some resources to keep your children entertained and learning something new:
    • Check with your local library to see if it is one of the many that are streaming virtual story hours.
    • Scholastic’s Learn at Home websiteoffers up 20 days of articles, stories, videos, and learning challenges that can be completed anytime, in any order.
    • PBS KIDSand PBS LearningMedia are offering tools to help support learning at home, including educational videos and games, and skill-building offline activities.
    • The Ranger Rick children’s magazine of the National Wildlife Federation is making its website free to all visitors through the end of June.
    • Audible, the audiobook service from Amazon, is currently offering a collection of its stories for free to stream for all ages, including children’s titles and adult literary classics.
  • Free meals for those in need. For Long Island and New Jersey families and healthcare workers in need, check out this list of restaurants stepping up to support their communities during the pandemic.
  • Access counseling and emotional support. This is unquestionably a difficult and unpredictable time for you and your loved ones. If you need help or know some who does, contact healthcare professionals in your provider network, or check out the CDC’s website, which lists tips as well as national helplines. Both the NY and NJ Department of Health offer counseling and support services to help its residents cope with the strain of COVID-19.
    • New Yorkers can call the COVID-19 Emotional Support Hotline at 1.844.863.9314 for mental health counseling.
    • The New Jersey Mental Health Cares Helpline offers telephone counseling, emotional support, information, and assistance in helping individuals to get behavioral health services. Call the toll-free, confidential number: 866-202-HELP (4357)

For more information and resources on COVID-19, visit the CDC, the New York State Department of Health, or the New Jersey Department of Health. You can also find information on MagnaCare’s  coronavirus resource hub.

Maneras creativas de aliviar el estrés y mantenerse ocupado durante el COVID-19

Mientras la pandemia de COVID-19 se sigue propagando, ha transformado completamente nuestras rutinas normales. Aunque en general estamos confinados en nuestras casas, aún hay maneras de seguir activos y mantener las relaciones sociales durante las próximas semanas. Hemos compilado algunas ideas de actividades y modos de permanecer conectados con otras personas, para ayudarle a cuidar de su salud y bienestar durante estos tiempos difíciles.

La siguiente lista no es exhaustiva, pero esperamos que estimule su imaginación. Recuerde que MagnaCare no está afiliada ni respalda a ninguna de las organizaciones y los recursos que se muestran a continuación. Los siguientes recursos no sustituyen a la atención médica. Es importante que consulte a un proveedor de servicios de salud si le preocupan su salud y bienestar, tanto físicos como mentales.

Ideas y actividades que puede probar:

  • Alivie el estrés y practique la conciencia plena. Es comprensible que sienta ansiedad ante la incertidumbre de esta pandemia. Tómese descansos de las noticias sobre el COVID-19 y ejercite su mente comenzando o terminando el proyecto de manualidades que tenía planeado, cocinando algo nuevo o especial, leyendo los libros que desde hace mucho tiene separados, armando ese rompecabezas de 1000 piezas que compró hace un año, cultivando un jardín interior o probando cualquier otra actividad que le interese. La meditación y las prácticas de conciencia plena son otra manera de cuidar de sí mismo, al animarlo a estar más consciente de sus pensamientos, emociones y respiración. Estas son solo algunas de las herramientas gratuitas que ya tiene disponibles para ayudarle a mantenerse tranquilo y resiliente durante esta crisis:
    • Deepak Chopra y Oprah actualmente ofrecen 21 días gratuitos de meditación.
    • El canal Mindful Movement de YouTube ofrece clases gratuitas de meditación, yoga y Pilates.
  • Mantenga su actividad física. El ejercicio físico no solamente puede ayudarle a mantener su condición física, sino a lidiar con el estrés. Pregunte en su gimnasio o curso si ofrecen opciones de video en línea. Consulte a las compañías y aplicaciones de ejercicio que ha querido probar y vea si ofrecen un período de prueba gratuito o si han extendido su período de prueba gratuito normal a las clases en línea. Un par de compañías que ofrecen clases bajo demanda o con transmisión en línea ahora:
    • Orange Theory – Rutinas de ejercicio de 30 minutos diarios con objetos del hogar.
    • Barry’s Bootcamp – Conéctese a la cuenta de Instagram de Barrys para ver videos con 20 minutos de ejercicios para el hogar, dos veces al día, por Instagram Live.
    • Nike Training Club – Nike está ofreciendo de manera gratuita todas las rutinas premium de ejercicio en el hogar de su Training Club hasta nuevo aviso.
  • Conéctese con amigos y familiares. El distanciamiento social no implica que no puede reunirse con amigos y familiares para celebrar cumpleaños, tomar un café o disfrutar una noche de juegos. De hecho, es más importante que nunca mantenerse conectados, incluso si es por medio de interacciones virtuales, para minimizar la tensión emocional del aislamiento. No faltan aplicaciones y servicios que le permiten organizar reuniones en grupo, y cada una tiene capacidades y limitaciones únicas. Estas son solo algunas de ellas:
    • Añada hasta 32 participantes usando Group Facetime en dispositivos Apple.
    • Los videochats en grupo de Whatsapp pueden conectarse hasta con cuatro participantes por Wi-Fi.
    • Converse cara a cara con Facebook Messenger, hasta con seis participantes en videochat.
    • Organice un chat con video hasta para 50 personas en Skype.
    • Google Duo soporta videollamadas hasta con ocho personas.
    • Deje mensajes y vuelva a escuchar sus conversaciones en Marco Polo.
    • La aplicación móvil Houseparty le permite organizar una fiesta virtual con hasta ocho invitados, con los que puede conversar y jugar juegos.
    • Si extraña sus noches de películas con amigos, organice una fiesta de video y pruebe el complemento Netflix Party para Chrome, que le permite conversar con su grupo mientras ven un programa o una película juntos.
  • Aprenda un nuevo idioma. Adquirir una nueva habilidad puede ayudarle a pasar el tiempo y mantener activo su cerebro.
    • Duolingo: Una aplicación para aprender idiomas que es gratuita, y ofrece mejoras con costo.
    • Babbel: Los estudiantes de jardín de niños hasta 12.° grado pueden usar gratis la aplicación móvil de aprendizaje durante tres meses.
  • Satisfaga sus ansias de cultura. Visite el sitio de internet de su museo favorito para ver lo que le está ofreciendo al público durante esta crisis. Varios museos y galerías están exponiendo sus colecciones en línea, como los siguientes.
  • Viaje alrededor del mundo sin salir.
  • Haga excursiones desde el sofá.
  • Asómese a zoológicos y acuarios. Vea lo que hacen sus animales favoritos tras bambalinas.
    • Cámara web en vivo, enfocada en los hábitats de animales submarinos del Acuario de Georgia, como ballenas beluga y leones de mar.
    • Videos en vivo de algunos de los animales favoritos del Zoológico de San Diego, como elefantes, tigres y otros.
  • Tome un curso en línea. El aprendizaje en línea es una manera productiva de pasar el tiempo, aprender algo nuevo o acelerar su carrera. Acceda a cursos gratuitos o con costo de las principales universidades del país usando plataformas de educación en línea como Coursera o Edx. Varios de sus cursos le permiten asistir como oyente (escuchar el curso sin pagar). Si desea un curso certificado con validez oficial o participar en las tareas y recibir una calificación, podría tener que pagar una cuota.
  • Educación a distancia para sus niños. Con las escuelas cerradas por semanas o meses, quizá se encuentre en la difícil situación de trabajar, cuidar a los niños y enseñarles, todo en el mismo espacio. Estos son algunos recursos para mantener a sus niños entretenidos y lograr que aprendan algo nuevo:
    • Consulte a la biblioteca local para ver si es una de las muchas que están transmitiendo horas del cuento virtuales.
    • El sitio de internet de educación en casa de Scholastic ofrece hasta 20 días de artículos, historias y desafíos educativos que puede completar en cualquier momento y en cualquier orden.
    • PBS KIDS y PBS LearningMedia ofrecen herramientas para ayudar con la educación en casa, incluyendo videos y juegos educativos, y actividades para formación de actividades sin estar conectados a internet.
    • La revista para niños Ranger Rick de la National Wildlife Federation ha puesto su sitio de internet a disposición de todos los visitantes, de manera gratuita, hasta que termine junio.
    • Audible, el servicio de audiolibros de Amazon, está ofreciendo una colección de historias para todas las edades de manera gratuita, incluyendo títulos para niños y clásicos literarios para los adultos.
  • Comidas gratuitas para quienes las necesitan. Para las familias y los trabajadores médicos de
    Long Island y New Jersey que lo necesiten, consulte esta lista de restaurantes que se están esforzando por ayudar a sus comunidades durante la pandemia.
  • Acceso a terapia y apoyo emocional. Sin duda usted y sus seres queridos están enfrentando una etapa difícil e impredecible. Si necesita ayuda, o conoce a alguien que la necesite, comuníquese con profesionales médicos de su red de proveedores o consulte el sitio de internet del CDC, donde hay recomendaciones y líneas telefónicas de ayuda a nivel nacional. Los Departamentos de Salud de NY y NJ ofrecen servicios de terapia y apoyo para ayudar a sus residentes a afrontar el estrés del COVID-19.
    • Los neoyorquinos pueden llamar a la línea de apoyo emocional para COVID-19 al 1.844.863.9314 para recibir apoyo de salud mental.
    • La línea telefónica de ayuda de cuidado de la salud mental de New Jersey ofrece asesoría, apoyo emocional información y asistencia para ayudar a las personas a recibir servicios de salud conductual. Llame al número gratuito y con servicio confidencial: 866-202-HELP (4357)

Para obtener más información y recursos sobre el COVID-19, visite al CDC, el New York State Department of Health, o el New Jersey Department of Health. También puede encontrar información en el centro de recursos sobre coronavirus de MagnaCare.