COVID Emergency Ends: How Will it Affect Your Healthcare?

When the White House ended the COVID-19 emergency declaration on May 11th, 2023, many Americans breathed a sigh of relief. After a difficult period of years, a sense of normalcy could finally return. Unfortunately, the end of the COVID emergency means more than just moving on from the pandemic; it also comes with some unintended consequences. In the post-pandemic era, Americans will be facing some new healthcare costs, as well as some additional hassles when receiving care and benefits. Here’s what you can expect as we transition out of the COVID-19 pandemic era:

Healthcare Changes 

  • COVID-19 vaccines, tests, and treatments that were provided free of charge during the pandemic will now require payment. Those without insurance will have to pay out-of-pocket, while private plan members may see additional costs for these tests and treatments.
  • Vaccines will remain free for Medicare, Medicaid, and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) beneficiaries, but they may see some costs for testing and COVID antivirals.
  • Employers can no longer offer telehealth access as a tax-free benefit, separate from other health insurance plans.
  • Rules for prescribing controlled substances were eased during the pandemic; those who receive certain prescription drugs for mental health care, opioid addiction, and other issues will now be required to attend an in-person doctor visit in order to receive their prescriptions.
  • Some Medicare coverage requirements that were waived during the pandemic will be revived. For example, Medicare patients will once again need to spend three days in the hospital before seeking admission to a skilled nursing facility.
  • Medicare prescription drug beneficiaries were allowed to get extended supplies of many drugs during the pandemic; this will no longer be allowed.
  • Many pandemic-related changes to Medicaid and CHIP will be removed.
  • Millions of Medicaid enrollees could be removed in April due to the end of a requirement that states allow them to stay enrolled in Medicaid regardless of changes to their eligibility. Those who are being kicked off because their income is now too high to qualify for Medicaid will be eligible for low-cost health plans under the Affordable Care Act.

Other Changes

If you receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, your assistance may end. Work requirements for federal food assistance programs have also been reinstated in many states. You may need to reapply for assistance depending on where you live.

What is Not Changing

  • High-deductible healthcare plan members and Medicare recipients will continue to have easier access to telehealth services through the end of 2024.
  • The FDA will still have the ability to authorize vaccines, tests, and drugs on an emergency basis.

Medicaid Attorney Serving Chester County, PA & Surrounding Areas

These changes to Medicare, Medicaid, and food assistance programs will affect seniors most of all. If the end of the COVID-19 emergency declaration has affected your plans for the future, it’s time to speak to an elder care attorney about your situation. Robert Slutsky has decades of experience advising seniors about Medicaid, estate planning, and more. Get in touch with Rob if you need a Medicaid attorney in Chester County, PA, or in other communities nearby. Call our team at (610) 940-0650 or fill out the online form on our contact page to request a consultation with an experienced Pennsylvania elder law attorney today!

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