In the last three years, we’ve grown accustomed to several benefits designed to help the country navigate unprecedented times. This week, the Biden Administration, and Gov JB Pritzker in Illinois, announced the public health emergency declaration will end in May 2023. 

So, what will stay and what will go? 


All vaccines in circulation today have been purchased by the federal government. Once that supply is depleted — which is expected to happen sometime this year — insurers will have to pay for commercial doses. Both Pfizer and Moderna representatives estimate an increase in price from about $28, the cost the government paid, to $82 to $130 dollars per dose.

“What’s important to know about access to the COVID-19 vaccine is it will not change,” Jennifer Tolbert, associate director of Kaiser Family Foundation said. “Everyone who has health insurance coverage will continue to have access to the covid vaccines as well as the boosters and will access those free of charge.

The uninsured will pay the higher price per dose, a change that could disproportionately impact low-income and communities of color.

“People may see a slightly higher increase in their premiums not this year but next year as insurance companies factor in those additional costs,” Tolbert said. “Uninsured people will pay more for the vaccine, now they may be able to access the vaccine on a sliding fee scale from community health centers and public health clinics. But otherwise they will pay more and potentially the whole cost for the vaccine.”

Covid Tests

When it comes to covid tests, those on Medicaid will have free access for a full year following the end of the public health emergency declaration. But people on Medicare and those who have private insurance will face greater cost sharing. That doesn’t include at home tests.

“At home tests may no longer be covered by private insurance plans, will not be covered under traditional Medicare, should continue to be covered by Medicare advantage plans but people will pay more for those tests,” Tolbert said.


And good news, a perk of the pandemic, telehealth visits, will stick around.

“For most people with private insurance as well as people with Medicare and Medicaid, they will continue to have pretty broad access to telehealth services,” Tolbert said.

During the pandemic, providers can prescribe treatment medications for people with opioid use disorder via a telehealth appointment – that will end in May. But it is possible the DEA will issue an order to extend that flexibility.