On Your Side: Healthcare changes with public health emergency ending
Big changes are coming to healthcare now that the public health emergency declared in 2020 due to Covid is expiring on Thursday, May 11.
From Covid testing to telehealth, consumers will see changes in what's covered and how much they pay for these services once that public health emergency expires in two days.
Covid tests, vaccines and Covid treatments will no longer be automatically covered with no out-of-pocket costs.
You'll have to check with your insurer to see what your coverage is and you'll likely have to stay in-network for those services -- going to your doctor or an in-network pharmacy.
For home tests, it used to be that your insurer was required to give you eight home tests per month for free. That's going away too.
There are also changes to COBRA healthcare coverage that kick in on June 9. You now only have 60 days to choose if you want to take COBRA if you leave a job or lose your insurance. Pandemic-era rules had extended that deadline to a year.
"Anytime you have a change like this in health policy, if people haven't really been paying attention to the nuances of it, it can catch people by surprise," said Louise Norris, HealthInsurance.org. "A lot people maybe weren't even aware that some of these changes and flexibilities were related to the public health emergency. It's definitely something that we need to get this message out in as many ways as possible."
Another change is to telehealth. Starting on Thursday, telehealth options will be more limited. Coverage of audio-only telehealth visits will end. Medicare will return to a more limited list of telehealth platforms to better protect patient privacy. And providers will no longer be able to prescribe controlled medication via telehealth without at least one in-person visit.
That applies to medicines for things like ADHD, anxiety and sleep disorders.
Also, employer-sponsored enrollment periods will once again be limited to 30 days. Those limited windows were not allowed during the national emergency.
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