Starting this week, at-home tests for COVID-19 will no longer be free, but other changes from the end of the federal government’s public health emergency won’t be as obvious.
The public health emergency, declared in January 2020, will lapse Thursday, but many people may not notice a difference. Despite the association between the public health emergency and measures like mask mandates in many people’s minds, nearly all anti-COVID precautions already have been lifted. The end of continuous Medicaid coverage during the pandemic also is no longer linked to the end of the public health emergency, and the state has already started determining who still qualifies.
There will be some changes, however. A rule requiring insurance companies to cover eight at-home tests monthly for each member will end, though Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program will cover tests through September 2024. Emergency regulations allowing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to collect more data will also expire, meaning that the picture of how the virus is behaving will become fuzzier.