End of public health emergency causes cascade of changes

For the millions of people enrolled in Medicare, meanwhile, cost-sharing requirements for COVID-19 treatments will resume when the public health emergency ends. Enrollees will also likely have to pay full cost for at-home tests. The same goes for Medicaid beneficiaries, although cost sharing for testing and treatments will resume in 2024 under a provision in a COVID-19 relief law.

And while private insurers were required to provide or pay for eight free COVID-19 tests per month during the public health emergency, that provision will expire when the PHE does. Insured individuals will still have access to COVID-19 vaccines after the end of the emergency, but uninsured people will no longer be eligible for free COVID-19 testing, vaccines or treatment through Medicaid. 

“Throughout the pandemic, people have been able to get what they need, regardless of their ability to pay. And we’ll be moving into a phase where that will be different,” said Natalie Davis, CEO of health advocacy group United States of Care. 

But commercializing the products will have its upside, Adalja said, including the ability to freely market products that federal officials and many experts believe are underutilized, like Paxlovid. 

“Love them or hate them, pharmaceutical reps actually are effective at increasing awareness,” he said. “And television commercials are also effective at drawing and getting people to demand the drug.”


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