Skip to main content
Blue @ Work

An employer's quick guide to COVID-19 testing options

Get the facts.

If your employees are returning to work on-site, you’re in unchartered territory. It means accommodating schedules, staggering shifts, using space differently, deep-cleaning work spaces more frequently, establishing policies for social distancing, and more. It’s enough to make your head spin.

Along with direction on how to safely return to work, Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield is offering guidance on where your employees can go if they need COVID-19 testing, and what they can expect from their Wellmark coverage.

“As long it is ordered by a physician, Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield covers COVID-19 tests and related services to diagnose or detect the virus,” says Mike Fay, vice president of health networks and innovation at Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield.

“Some self-funded employer groups may differ in coverage,” says Fay, “and Wellmark is working with those groups to extend similar benefits for their employees.”

Here are three ways for your employees to get tested:

  1. Community-based testing. Throughout the U.S., COVID-19 tests are available at no cost at health centers, select pharmacies and other established locations. Testing sites for each state can be found here External Site. Iowa’s program, called Test Iowa External Site, has drive-up locations throughout the state. It includes an online assessment that was developed in coordination with the Iowa Department of Public Health. South Dakota has a similar public testing program External Site through the South Dakota Department of Public Health. These programs do not submit health insurance claims and are free of charge.
  2. Health care provider testing. Hospitals, clinics, urgent care centers and other health care providers all have their own processes in place for COVID-19 testing. Employees who are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms External Site, or have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, should call their health care provider before going to a doctor's office, clinic, urgent care or emergency department. The health care provider will assess symptoms and direct your employee to the appropriate care. COVID-19 tests provided through the doctor or hospital will be processed through insurance and covered in full.
  3. Independent vendors. There may be situations where an employee needs the results of a COVID-19 test quickly. For example, as an employer, you may require a negative test before an employee can return to work. Or, your employee may be traveling, for personal or professional reasons, to a place that requires proof of a negative test. In this case, your employee may not have any coronavirus symptoms, or may be unable to schedule the test through a community testing site or through his or her doctor.

“There are many independent vendors that are providing this type of service to employers and individuals,” says Fay. “It’s important to know, though, that COVID-19 tests administered by independent vendors generally aren’t covered by health insurance.”

Fay explains, “Insurance doesn’t cover tests that aren’t approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or ordered by a heath care provider. There are companies out there that are capitalizing on the need for testing. While some may be legitimate, others may be fraudulent External Site. So before directing your employees to an independent testing site, be sure to do your homework,” he warns.

Help your employees know what to do if they need a COVID-19 test.

Share this story Opens in a new window from BlueSM online with your employees on your company intranet site.

For more information about COVID-19 testing, how other benefit-related information associated to COVID-19, visit Opens in a new window. You can also encourage your employees to check out our coronavirus articles Opens in a new window at

Questions? Contact your authorized Wellmark account representative, or email us at Send Email.