Find answers to the most commonly asked questions

  • Coronavirus (COVID-19)
  • General questions
  • Benefits
  • Getting care
Questions about Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Is testing for COVID-19 covered by my insurance?

Yes. Sharp Health Plan covers COVID-19 screening and/or testing when recommended by your health care provider as medically necessary. Please talk to your Sharp Health Plan doctor if you think you may need to be tested.

Will I have to pay for COVID-19 testing?

No. Sharp Health Plan has reduced the cost-share (what you pay out of pocket) to $0 for all medically necessary screening and testing for coronavirus. This includes hospital (including emergency department), urgent care, provider office visits, and telehealth appointments for the purpose of screening and/or testing for coronavirus.

Are COVID-19 home test kits covered by my insurance?

The FDA has issued emergency approval for a COVID-19 home test kit from LabCorp®. At this time, they are currently limited to health care workers and first responders. We are following CDC guidelines, which recommend that you contact your provider first if you think you need to be screened or tested for COVID-19. It’s important to note that not everyone needs to be tested. Your provider will decide what’s appropriate for you based on your symptoms.

Where can I get tested for COVID-19?

If you are concerned about possible exposure to COVID-19, or are experiencing symptoms such as a cough, fever or shortness of breath, call your doctor first. Your doctor will assess your situation and recommend where you should be seen. In some cases, your doctor may recommend that you stay home and treat mild symptoms. Not all patients need to be tested. Testing is provided based on a risk assessment recommended by the CDC.

Will Sharp Health Plan cover the cost of COVID-19 treatment?

Yes. Sharp Health Plan is waiving members’ out-of-pocket costs for inpatient and outpatient services related to the treatment of COVID-19. This policy applies to Sharp Health Plan members who are diagnosed with COVID-19 and who are enrolled in a fully insured benefit plan, and is effective from April 1 through October 31, 2020. Simply, this means that members will not be billed a copay, coinsurance, or deductible for services to treat COVID-19.

What is COVID-19?

The respiratory virus was first identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China, in late 2019. 

This virus likely emerged from an animal source and is now spreading from person to person. While some viruses, like the flu and measles, are highly contagious, others are less so. World health leaders and scientists are trying to identify how COVID-19 is spreading and how to contain it.

Are there any vaccines available to prevent COVID-19?

Not yet. Several vaccines are being tested, but they’re still in the very early stages of development. After that, they’ll need to go through clinical trials to be sure they are both safe and effective before they’d be ready for the public.

How can I protect myself?

There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is leading a public-private partnership for a coordinated research strategy to develop treatments and vaccines. While scientists work to develop a vaccine, the best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to this virus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends everyday preventive actions to help stop the spread of respiratory viruses.

What are the everyday preventive actions I should be doing?

The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to the virus. The CDC recommends everyday preventive actions to help stop the spread of respiratory viruses, including:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are unavailable, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you're sick.
  • Cover your entire mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, then throw the tissue in the trash and wash your hands. If a tissue is unavailable, cough or sneeze into your bent elbow.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

Does the CDC recommend the use of face masks or face coverings to prevent COVID-19?

Yes, the CDC recommends that people wear a cloth face mask or face covering to cover their nose and mouth in community settings to prevent the spread of COVID-19. This recommendation is in light of new data about how COVID-19 spreads and evidence of widespread COVID-19 illness in communities across the country. Wearing a cloth face mask or face covering in public is a health and safety precaution that you should take in addition to physical distancing, frequent hand cleaning and other everyday preventive actions. Cloth face coverings may prevent the spread of the virus from the wearer to others, which is especially important if someone is infected but does not have symptoms. It’s important to wear a cloth face covering every time that you must enter a public setting (grocery stores, for example). Medical masks and N-95 respirators are reserved for health care workers and other first responders, as recommended by current CDC guidance. For more information, please see the latest face covering guidance from the County of San Diego.

What is Sharp doing to protect patients, visitors and staff during this time?

Sharp HealthCare’s top priority is the safety and well-being of patients, visitors and staff. Please visit for the latest information, such as the following:

  • Hospital visitation guidelines
  • How Sharp is screening and testing patients
  • How to get care
  • Infection prevention measures
  • Sharp classes and events
We encourage you to check Sharp’s COVID-19 page often for updates.

Where can I get more information?

To learn more about COVID-19, please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization and the San Diego County Health & Human Services Agency. If you have additional questions, please call 211 San Diego.

We also encourage you to visit for the latest information from Sharp.

Can I still go to MinuteClinic?

Yes. Please note that during the COVID-19 outbreak, MinuteClinic® is no longer accepting walk-in appointments. You will need to make an appointment through the MinuteClinic website or CVS Pharmacy app.

When will Sharp HealthCare resume elective procedures?

Sharp will begin elective procedures as soon as we can responsibly do so. Providers will schedule procedures as appropriate based on patient need, resource availability and other applicable factors. For more information, please contact your primary care physician.

Will my benefits cover isolation and quarantine for the diagnosis of COVID-19?

Sharp Health Plan covers medically necessary isolation and quarantine in the hospital. We do not cover home isolation or quarantine.

What is contact tracing?

Contact tracing is a method of disease control that local, state and federal public health officials have been practicing for decades. It helps keep communities safe by identifying people who may have come into contact with an infected person. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, contact tracing and self-quarantining of people with COVID-19, and close contacts, is critical to slowing transmission of COVID-19 in our communities. For more information, check out this Sharp Health News article on the importance of contact tracing.

How does contact tracing for COVID-19 work?

If you test positive for COVID-19, your doctor or another health official will let you know. A positive case must be reported to County Public Health Services so that each confirmed case can be used to help identify others who may have been exposed. When a confirmed COVID-19 case is investigated by public health staff, the investigator works with the infected person to identify all close contacts they may have exposed. Contact tracers then attempt to get in touch with these contacts so that they can be self-quarantined at home and monitored for symptoms of COVID-19. For more information, watch this short video from the County of San Diego Communications Office.

Who conducts COVID-19 contact tracing and how?

Contact tracing is conducted by local and state public health officials. If you had contact with someone infected with COVID-19, you may first get a text message from the health department telling you that you’ll get a call from a specific telephone number. When the contact tracer calls, they will identify themselves as being part of the county, and let you know that all information gathered during the contact tracing effort is kept confidential. Contact tracers will not ask you for personal information such as your Social Security number, bank account or credit card information. Anyone who does is a scammer.

How do I spot a contact tracing scam?

According to the Federal Trade Commission, scammers pretending to be contact tracers are taking advantage of how the process works, and are also sending text messages. You can spot spam text messages because they’ll ask you to click a link. Unlike a legitimate text message from a health department, which only wants to let you know they’ll be calling, text messages from scammers include a link to click.

New member ID cards and portal upgrades

What should I do if I do not receive my member ID card?

If you are a new member, it can take up to 3 business days after Sharp Health Plan gets your information from your human resources department to receive your new member ID card.

If you are currently enrolled in benefits with Sharp Health Plan, and recently made a benefit change, made a demographic change (i.e., changed your name or gender), or selected a new primary care physician (PCP), you will automatically be sent a new member ID card. It can take up to 7 business days after making one of these changes to receive your new member ID card in the mail. If you plan includes three or more covered family members, those cards will be mailed separately.

If you lost your member ID card and have requested a replacement, please allow up to 7 business days to receive your new one in the mail. In the meantime, you can print a temporary member ID card through the Sharp Connect member portal. 

I received my member ID card in the mail, but other covered family members’ cards were missing. What should I do?

Don’t worry! If your plan includes three or more covered family members, those cards will be mailed separately.

What should I do if the name on my member ID card is incorrect?

If you or one of your dependents received a member ID card with the incorrect personal information on it (like your name), you can request a replacement online by logging into your Sharp Connect member portal. From within the portal, you will be able to review your personal information, update your information if necessary, and request a new member ID card.

What should I do if the primary care physician listed on my member ID card is incorrect?

If you receive a member ID card with the wrong primary care physician (PCP) listed on the front, please log into your Sharp Connect member portal to verify the PCP that we have on record for you. Please note that if you are a Sharp Rees-Stealy member, your ID card will not list your PCP’s name, only the location of the Sharp Rees-Stealy Medical Center where they see patients. We know choosing the right PCP is a personal decision, which is why we make it easy for you to change your selection at any time. Please visit to find a list of doctors. Once you’ve made your selection, you can update your PCP through the member portal. Please note that PCP changes will be effective the first of the following month. Upon making your selection, we will mail you a new member ID card.

What should I do if my primary care physician isn’t listed on member ID card at all?

If you are a Sharp Rees-Stealy member, by default the name of your primary care physician (PCP) will not display on the front of your new member ID card, only Sharp Rees-Stealy and the phone number for your designated location.

What should I do if my new member ID card shows the wrong effective date?

The effective date on your ID card does not affect your ability to access care or fill prescriptions. The effective date listed on the ID card is based on contract updates in the Sharp Health Plan system. If you enrolled in Sharp Health Plan before 1/1/16, your ID card will list that effective date. If you enrolled after 1/1/16, you will have a later effective date.

What should I do if I'm not being prompted to re-register for my Sharp Connect account?

If you are accessing Sharp Connect through a bookmark you created to the portal, you will not be prompted to re-register. To re-register for the new, upgraded Sharp Connect portal, you will have to visit Please note that you may need to refresh your web browser, or clear your web cache and/or history to display the most up-to-date log-in screen.

When do I need to start using my member ID card?

Your member ID card is your key to accessing care and filling prescriptions. Please carry it with you at all times and present it whenever getting care.

What will my member ID card look like?

The front of your member ID card will include your name, date of birth, account information, primary care physician’s name or affiliated medical group location, medical deductible (if applicable) and certain cost share information. The back of your new card will include important contact information. To see samples of what the new ID cards look like, view or print this CalPERS member ID PDF.

Do I need to register for the Sharp Connect member portal again?

Starting January 1, 2018, existing users will have to re-register on the portal for a brand new experience. You can do that by visiting Sharp Connect. Please have your new member ID number available. This number is in the upper right-hand corner of your ID card. If you’re not a current user, we encourage you to create an account. Sharp Connect is our free online member portal that connects you with important plan information 24-hours a day. It’s mobile-friendly, and allows you to view your benefits, update plan information, change your primary care physician, request a new member ID card, print a temporary card, check the covered drug list and much more.

Who do I contact with questions?

If you have additional questions, please call us at 1-855-995-5004 or contact Customer Care at We are available to assist you 7 a.m. – 8 p.m., seven days a week.

About Sharp Health Plan

What is a Plan Medical Group (PMG)

Sharp Health Plan has several medical groups (called Plan Medical Groups or PMGs) from which you choose your primary care physician (PCP) and through which you receive specialty physician care or access to hospitals and other facilities. You receive covered benefits from doctors who are affiliated with your PMG and who are part of the Performance Plan Network. To find out which plan doctors are affiliated with your PMG, refer to the Performance provider directory for your Plan Network or call Customer Care.

What is a Plan Network?

A Plan Network is the group of doctors, medical groups and hospitals that are available to you as a Sharp Health Plan member. CalPERS members have access to the Performance Network. You can select your PCP and Plan Medical Group from that network. You will find the name of your Plan Network on your member ID card.

What is Performance? 

Performance is one of Sharp Health Plan’s Plan Networks. The Performance network includes Sharp Community Medical Group, Sharp Rees-Stealy Medical Group, Arch Health Partners, and Children’s Physicians Medical Group. You will find the name of your Plan Network on your member ID card.

How does Sharp Health Plan protect my privacy? 

We understand the importance of keeping your personal information confidential and work to ensure that all privacy regulations are followed. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act’s (HIPAA) privacy regulations govern the use and release of a member's personal health information, also known as protected health information (PHI). Under the HIPAA privacy regulations, members must be informed about how their PHI will be used and given the opportunity to object to or restrict the use or release of their information. You can find a copy of Sharp Health Plan’s Notice of Privacy Practices (PDF, 77KB) here and in the Evidence of Coverage.

Covered benefits - HMO plan

If hospitalization is necessary, which hospital will I use? 

Sharp Health Plan’s Performance network includes many hospitals throughout San Diego. View the full list of hospitals. Primary care providers (PCPs) and specialists work with specific hospitals. If hospitalization is necessary, your doctor will admit you to a hospital that is affiliated with your Plan Medical Group. If you want to make sure that you can use a particular hospital, you should select a medical group that is affiliated with that hospital. Customer Care can advise you about which hospitals are used by our Plan Medical Groups.

To find the hospital closest to you, use our search tool.

How can I access chiropractic services?

Sharp Performance Plus Medicare members have access to chiropractic services. Contact American Specialty Health (ASH) at 1-800-678-9133 to find a provider. No referral from Sharp Health Plan or your primary care physician is required.

How can I access vision services? 

Contact Vision Service Plan (VSP) at to find a provider, or call VSP Member Services at 1-800-877-7195.

Simply call your VSP doctor and make an appointment, letting the doctor know that you are a VSP Member. You will also need to provide your name, date of birth and the covered Member’s identification number. (The covered Member is the person whose group provides your vision coverage; CalPERS employee or retiree). Once you make your appointment, your doctor and VSP will handle the rest.

You can also select to receive an eye exam from a non-VSP provider and VSP will reimburse you up to $45. Services obtained through non-VSP providers are subject to the same copayments and limitations as services obtained through VSP doctors. Be aware that your out-of-network provider reimbursement rate does not guarantee full payment, and VSP cannot guarantee patient satisfaction when services are received from a non-VSP provider. You may be required to pay the entire bill when you see the non-VSP provider.

Am I covered for infertility services? 

All Sharp Health Plan members are covered for diagnosis and treatment of infertility. CalPERS members also have coverage for artificial insemination. Ask your primary care physician about referral to an appropriate specialist for infertility diagnosis and treatment. Members pay a copayment equal to 50% of the contracted rate for all infertility and artificial insemination services.

Am I covered for physical therapy, speech therapy or occupational therapy?

All Sharp Health Plan members are covered for outpatient and inpatient rehabilitation services, including occupational, physical and speech therapy. Services must be medically necessary and will be reviewed periodically to determine if continued therapy is needed.

Ask your primary care physician about referral to an appropriate specialist for therapy services. Members pay a copayment for each therapy visit. The copayment amount is listed on the benefits summary available by logging into Sharp Connect or by calling Customer Care.

Are breast pumps a covered benefit? 

CalPERS members are covered for a breast pump with no copayment, if requested within 365 days after delivery. (Breast pumps are not covered prior to delivery.) You are not required to have a prescription from your doctor. Contact Customer Care for information on how to order a breast pump. Breast pumps are not covered if purchased from a non-contracted supplier.

Which services are covered under Sharp Health Plan HMO

Sharp Health Plan HMO is a comprehensive health care service plan that offers a full spectrum of medical care. Covered services include doctor office visits, hospital stays, surgery, outpatient procedures, periodic immunizations, physical exams and much more, with varying levels of copayment and/or coinsurance. Check your Benefits to find out which services are covered under your plan.

Where can I get a summary of my benefits?

A summary of benefits is mailed to all new members. The Sharp Connect secure member website will also allow you to view a medical benefits summary and other plan documents online. If you prefer, you can call Customer Care to have a benefits summary sent to you.

How do I get authorization for medical care?

Except for PCP services, emergency services and obstetric and gynecologic services, you must obtain prior authorization from your PCP prior to receiving care, for covered benefits. If authorization is approved, take note of the expiration date for the authorization and arrange to receive care prior to that date.

Sharp Health Plan uses evidence-based guidelines for authorization, modification or denial of services. Plan-specific guidelines are developed and reviewed on an ongoing basis by Sharp Health Plan’s medical director, the Quality Management Committee and appropriate physicians. You can request a copy of Sharp Health Plan’s medical policy for a particular service or condition by contacting Customer Care.

Spouse, partner and dependent coverage

Can my spouse/partner and dependents be covered under Sharp Health Plan? 

Contact your human resources department for more information.

Will my child be covered under my health plan while going to school out of state?

If your dependent child is traveling for less than 90 days in the coming year, or is enrolling in college as a full-time student, he or she may continue on your health insurance policy. Learn more about out-of-town coverage for children.

Can my child’s spouse and children enroll in Sharp Health Plan?

No, your child’s spouse and children are not eligible to enroll in Sharp Health Plan.

Prescription drugs

How do I know which medications are covered under my plan?

As a Sharp Health Plan CalPERS member, OptumRx will provide your pharmacy benefits. You can access all of your pharmacy benefits online by visiting the OptumRx website.

Medical bills / reimbursement

What if I get a bill? 

As a Sharp Health Plan member, you will not normally receive a bill from a provider. You are responsible only for paying any copayment due at the time of your visit. However, sometimes a bill for covered services may be sent to you in error. If you receive a bill in error, don’t worry. Just call Customer Care toll-free at 1-855-995-5004 as soon as possible and explain the situation. We will work with the provider to have the bill sent to Sharp Health Plan.

How can I request reimbursement for medical expenses that I have paid?

As a Sharp Health Plan member, you will not normally receive a bill from a provider. You are responsible only for paying any copayment due at the time of your visit. However, sometimes a bill for covered services may be sent to you in error. If you receive a bill in error, don’t worry. Just call Customer Care toll-free at 1-855-995-5004 as soon as possible and explain the situation. We will work with the provider to have the bill sent to Sharp Health Plan.

How can I request reimbursement for smoking cessation that I paid for?

If you complete a smoking cessation program you can request reimbursement (PDF, 21KB) from Sharp Health Plan. We will need a copy of the receipt or Certificate of Completion. You will be reimbursed up to $100 for approved services. Call Customer Care if you have any questions about the reimbursement process.

Behavioral health services

Which behavioral health services are covered?

Sharp Health Plan provides coverage for the medically necessary diagnosis and treatment of mental illnesses in members of any age. Behavioral health benefits include inpatient hospital services, partial hospital services and outpatient services when ordered and performed by a participating behavioral health professional. To see your plan coverage details, please log in to your Sharp Connect account to view your member handbook and benefits summary.

How do I access behavioral health services?

As a member, you can access behavioral health services without a referral from your primary care physician. You can choose a behavioral health provider from our online provider directory. If you need assistance picking a provider, please contact Customer Care at 1-800-359-2002. We are available to assist you Monday through Friday, 8 am to 6 pm.

Emergency and urgent care services

Where and when can I access urgent care services?

Sharp Health Plan has urgent care centers throughout San Diego County. Get location information for Sharp Health Plan's urgent care centers or call Customer Care. You must contact your PCP for authorization before going to an urgent care center, unless you are assigned to Sharp Rees-Stealy Medical Group (SRS). SRS members do not need authorization before going to SRS urgent care centers. Check the Plan Medical Group on your member ID card to see if you are assigned to Sharp Rees-Stealy.

What if I have an emergency situation?

Sharp Health Plan members have direct access to emergency room treatment, whether in San Diego or anywhere worldwide. If you are not sure whether your situation is an emergency, call your PCP. They can help decide the best way to get treatment and can arrange for prompt emergency care. Members also have access to Sharp Nurse Connection®, Sharp’s nurse advice line, for medical assistance during evenings and weekends. To contact Nurse Connection, call Customer Care toll-free at 1-855-995-5004 and select the appropriate prompt.

How can I receive medical advice outside normal office hours?

Health concerns may arise at any hour of the day. Sharp Nurse Connection® is an after-hours nurse advice line. Nurse Connection puts you in contact with registered nurses who can assess your medical situation, suggest self-care or address your problem until you can see your doctor, and advise you where to seek care. To contact Nurse Connection, call Customer Care toll-free at 1-855-995-5004 and select the appropriate prompt.

Am I covered when I am outside Sharp Health Plan’s service area?

You are covered for emergency and urgent care when you are outside Sharp Health Plan’s service area. If you are admitted to a hospital because of an injury or life-threatening medical emergency, you (or someone acting for you) should immediately notify Sharp Health Plan. In other cases, you should contact your PCP within 48 hours after receiving emergency care. Sharp Health Plan members who need help finding emergency or urgent care services out of the service area can contact Assist America® (PDF, 254 KB). These services are available if you face a medical emergency while traveling 100 miles or more away from your permanent residence or in a foreign country. For San Diegans that can mean travel to destinations as close as Los Angeles or Mexico. Assist America will immediately connect you to doctors, hospitals, pharmacies and other health care services. Call Assist America at 1-800-872-1414 and provide reference number 01-AA-SHP-09073.

Primary care physician (PCP)

What is a primary care physician (PCP)?

A PCP is your personal doctor who is familiar with your health history and who provides or arranges for quality health care for you. If a specialist is needed, your PCP refers you and keeps in contact with your specialist to ensure continuity of care. Doctors who specialize in family practice, internal medicine, general practice and pediatrics are considered PCPs. Your PCP is listed on your member ID card.

How do I choose a PCP? 

Selecting your PCP is a very important and personal choice. We encourage you to select a PCP who best suits your needs. However, if you are unable to select a PCP at the time you enroll in Sharp Health Plan, we will select one for you so that you can access care immediately. For the most up-to-date information on PCPs, go to our Find a Doctor tool or call Customer Care.

Can I choose a different PCP for different members of my family?

Yes. Each covered family member may choose a different PCP from a different Plan Medical Group. All family members must stay in the Performance Plan Network.

Can I change my PCP?

Yes. In general, it is a good idea to stay with a PCP so that they can get to know your health needs and history. However, with Sharp Health Plan, you may change to a different PCP in the Performance Plan Network whenever you like. If you wish to make a change, you can log in to Sharp Connect to use the online Change PCP Form, or you can call Customer Care and we will help you select a new PCP over the telephone. The change will be effective on the first day of the following month.


What is a specialist?

A specialist is a doctor who focuses on one area of medicine. A specialist is trained as an expert in his or her particular field, such as cardiology, neurology or urology. When you need specialty care, your PCP will refer you to a specialist to ensure that you receive proper medical attention and follow-up.

Does my PCP make the decision about which specialist I see, or am I able to make that decision?

Your PCP will make recommendations for you to consider. Together, you and your doctor will determine the most appropriate specialist for your particular needs. In some cases, you may be able to see a specialist directly without a referral from your PCP. Women have direct and unlimited access to participating obstetricians and gynecologists within their Plan Medical Group for obstetric and/or gynecological services. In addition, members who choose Sharp Rees-Stealy for their PMG have direct access to specialists in allergy treatment, ophthalmology, otolaryngology (ear, nose and throat) and podiatry. Check the Plan Medical Group on your member ID card to see if you are assigned to Sharp Rees-Stealy. If you have any questions about access to a specialist, call Customer Care.


Are the Sharp Health Plan wellness programs covered under my plan? 

Sharp Health Plan members have access to comprehensive online resources for wellness, including a wellness assessment, personal report, multi-week wellness programs on various health topics, customized exercise and meal plans, food logs, health trackers and much more. Additionally, members have access to a health coaching program and can work one-on-one with a coach to reach personal health goals. See the Best Health wellness program page for more information.

Are my dependents eligible for the wellness programs?

Your enrolled dependents ages 18 and up, are eligible for the online Sharp Health Plan wellness programs. Only CalPERS employees and retirees are eligible for the wellness incentive.

If you can't find an answer to your question, please send us a message or call Customer Care at 1-855-995-5004.
We're here to help.