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COVID-19 Rapid Antigen Test

The COVID-19 Public Health Emergency to End on May 11: What it Means for You

In early 2020, the United States declared COVID-19 a national and public health emergency. These declarations provided the federal government with flexibilities and protections for the public. For example, free public access to COVID-19 resources such as testing, vaccines, and treatments once they became available. At the beginning of the year, the Biden administration announced the end of the national and public health emergency declarations. The official end date is May 11, 2023. But what does that mean for accessing COVID-19 resources?

For COVID-19 vaccines and boosters, much will remain the same in the near future. Vaccines and boosters will remain free to the public as long as the federally purchased supply of vaccines and boosters remains. Once the supply runs out, vaccines and boosters will still be free for most individuals covered under public or private insurance due to the Affordable Care Act. However, uninsured or underinsured individuals may have to pay.

Access to over-the-counter test kits may become more costly for those with insurance. Once the declarations end, those with Medicare will no longer receive free at-home tests. Private insurance providers and Medicare Advantage may continue to cover them voluntarily. For those on Medicaid, these tests will continue to be covered until September 2024. After September, coverage will vary by state. Additionally, if individuals still need to do so, free home test kits are still available to order through USPS. These tests will continue to be available for as long as the supply lasts. 

PCR (polymerase chain reaction) testing coverage will depend on the individual’s insurance. Under Medicare and most private insurance, the test will likely remain free but may include additional costs. Those with Medicaid will continue to have access to free testing until September 2024, after which coverage will vary by state.

For more information, individuals should contact their insurance provider, talk to their doctor or visit: Fact Sheet: COVID-19 Public Health Emergency Transition Roadmap | HHS.gov.   

Sairel Labasan, MPH

Sairel Labasan, MPH

Program Manager: COVID-19 Projects Liaison
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