Many Oklahomans to Lose Benefits as COVID-19 Public Health Emergency Ends

KTUL - May 12, 2023 6:20 am

The federal COVID-19 Public Health Emergency expires Thursday after more than three years, which means that treatment, testing, and vaccine availability may change.

The decision to end the emergency comes as COVID-19 weekly cases and hospitalizations are down drastically from previous years.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, access to vaccines should not be affected for now as the federal government continues to distribute them for free to keep communities safe and hospitalizations low.

Treatments for COVID, like Paxlovid, will remain free while supplies last. After that, the price will be determined by the medication manufacturer and health insurance companies.

The most notable change is that home tests may no longer be covered by insurance.

In Oklahoma, it’s estimated that about 270,000 could lose COVID coverage as the emergency expires.

“I think for some people this is going to seem very arbitrary and accelerated. that the emergency part of this pandemic is coming to an end. For other people, they’re going to say ‘Hey, look, months ago, maybe even a year ago, I was sort of through this,'” said Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN Chief Medical Correspondent.

As of last month, Dr. Gupta said COVID was still responsible for around 1,100 weekly deaths in the United States. Oklahoma averages about 175 cases per week and six deaths.

The Cherokee Nation is one group working to ensure its tribal citizens are covered for COVID care as the emergency ends.

Talk to your healthcare provider about your access and options now that special benefits have ended.


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