COVID Testing to End in May as US Health Emergency Declines

Image credit: Daily Mail Online

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has declared a public health emergency due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, resulting in the availability of free COVID-19 testing from March 2021 onwards. This served to increase testing capacity in the United States and ensure the virus was caught early, allowing for timely and effective treatment. However, the HHS has notified that in May 2021, when the public health emergency will end, free access to coronavirus tests may not be provided.

To begin with, private insurers will have to stop providing free tests to their policyholders as the government’s requirement that covers up to 8 tests per month will no longer apply. As a result, anyone getting tested at home might be required to pay the full cost of the tests, which can range from $20 to $24. The only exception will be Medicaid enrollees, who will continue to receive free testing until September 2024.

Those who are tested at any hospital, clinic or doctor’s office may have to pay out of pocket for a portion of the test’s price or for the services of the healthcare professional that carries it out. Typically, these lab tests range from $70 to $100. On the other hand, treatments and vaccines for COVID-19 patients will remain free of charge since they are funded directly by the government.

Additionally, experts worry that the lifting of the public health emergency declaration might lead to a decrease in the availability of tests since the US government will stop purchasing them in bulk. Before the emergency was declared, the US was struggling to build up its testing manufacturing capacity so it is crucial that companies such as Abbott Labs can increase production rates as necessary.

Finally, FDA authorized COVID-19 tests will remain available after the May 2021 declaration. However, the FDA has been encouraging test makers to apply for full regulatory approval, which will ensure long-term availability of their products. Last month, the FDA formally approved the first rapid COVID test.

The Abbott Laboratories Company is a multinational pharmaceuticals and medical device manufacturer that is engaged in researching, developing and manufacturing healthcare products, devices and treatments for various conditions and diseases. Established in 1888, the company has contributed significantly to healthcare and medicine throughout the world and is dedicated to improving the lives of its customers.

Jennifer Kates is a senior vice president with the non-profit Kaiser Family Foundation. With extensive knowledge in public policy and research, she has done extensive work related to healthcare, healthcare financing and insurance. She has contributed to improving public health policies via research and data analysis, making her an important resource in healthcare related fields.