The COVID public health emergency is ending - What does it mean for you?

The COVID public health emergency is set to come to an end on May 11, meaning that several pandemic-era health policies you might use are in for some changes.   

"I think people will notice is that they may be required to pay for things that they've been getting for free," said Juliette Cubanski of the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Since March 2020, the federal government has made it easy and cheap to check for COVID-19 and keep up with your doctor. People using Medicare and private insurance were allowed up to eight free tests a month. Now they'll have to pay.

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In New York, there are still a number of free tests available.  

"One option for people who now know that the public health emergency is ending in May is to stock up on at-home tests," said Cubanski. 

At the start of the pandemic, the federal government allowed millions of people to join Medicaid. Now around 15 million could lose coverage by July, if they no longer qualify.

"For people who are enrolled in Medicaid, whether or not you have Medicare, please look out for any communications you receive in the mail about re-certifying for this benefit because it's extremely important that you provide the additional information that's needed to renew your Medicaid coverage," said Fred Riccardi, Medicare Rights Center President.

The other big change will affect telehealth. It used to be only patients in rural areas could schedule a remote doctor's appointment, but the pandemic made virtual visits so popular, the trend stuck. 

Except now, they can't be done over Facetime and Zoom, virtual appointments must be done over technology that meets privacy standards.