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With the Covid-19 public health emergency in the U.S. officially ending on Thursday, consumers may be hit with higher health-care costs related to testing, experts say.
“The end of the public health emergency essentially brings a return to how the American health system worked before the pandemic,” said Cynthia Cox, vice president at the Kaiser Family Foundation. “That means coverage and costs can be complicated and hard to navigate.”
Here’s what to expect in terms of financial impact.
An end to free at-home tests
Price of average over-the-counter test is $11
The new costs for Covid tests will depend on your plan, but the average price of an at-home rapid test is around $11, KFF found.
Yet the cost can be as high as $150 if it is associated with a doctor’s appointment visit, Cox said.
“It might help to look at your health plan benefits to know what your plan covers or how much tests or other services might cost,” Cox said.
Because the price of over-the-counter Covid tests can vary, “people should shop around,” Corlette said. You should also make sure that any in-office test you are getting is from a doctor within your network, she added.
You can also search for a location near you that offers no-cost Covid tests, on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.
It is also worth checking if your state has its own coverage rules around Covid tests.
In California, for example, recent legislation will continue the free test mandate on certain insurers beyond the end of the public health emergency.
Covid vaccines, including boosters, should remain free for most people.
The costs of Covid treatments will continue to vary, depending on your health insurance plan. Those on Medicaid shouldn’t have to pay anything for virus treatments through Sept. 2024.