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What the End of the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency Means for You

The federal government’s public health emergency (PHE) for COVID-19 began in January of 2020 and was renewed several times, most recently in February of 2023. Declaring COVID-19 as a PHE paved the way for the federal government to respond swiftly during the pandemic to protect Americans’ public health. The PHE declaration helped ensure widespread access to testing, vaccines, treatments and other healthcare changes such as expanded telehealth services – often available for free or at low cost.

Now, although it seems that COVID-19 is here to stay in some form, the federal government’s PHE declaration expires on May 11, 2023. What does that mean for you?

For people with private health insurance/group plans, the end of the PHE will bring changes to health care coverage, costs and payments in several areas. These include changes related to COVID-19 vaccines, testing, treatment, access to telehealth services and COBRA coverage.

In most cases, what’s likely to change is the cost to the consumer (i.e., the cost sharing or co-pay) associated with the benefit. During the PHE, the federal government mandated that health insurance plans had to cover many aspects of COVID-19 vaccination, testing and treatment without a co-pay. With the PHE expiring, health insurance providers can now once again set their own rates for these benefits.

Click here to view or download a detailed summary of changes related to the end of the COVID-19 PHE. For specific questions not covered above, contact the Fund’s Health Promotion Division at 202-628-5465.

[Nick Fox]

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