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Cost Of COVID Care Likely To Increase After Federal Emergency Ends In May

A powerpoint slide summarizing how the ending of the state and federal public health emergencies will impact L.A. County residents.
While the COVID-19 emergency ends in California by the end of February, the Federal government will lift its own by May.
Courtesy oL.A. County Dept. of Public Health)
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The end of the federal COVID-19 public health emergency on May 11 will also mean the end of free testing, treatments and vaccines for many people.

Why it matters

The government will no longer be purchasing all of the COVID-19 vaccines after May 11. That means:

  • Prices for vaccines are likely to increase and directly impact the patient’s pocket as insurers add cost sharing
  • New charges for tests, treatments, and vaccines will vary depending on whether the person has private insurance, Medicare, Medicaid, or they have no insurance.

For instance, Pfizer executives announced their mRNA COVID-19 vaccines may cost up to $130.00 per dose.

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Why now

The sunsetting of the emergency declarations reflect a shift in how officials are approaching the pandemic. California’s public health emergency related to COVID ends Feb. 28. We haven’t seen the winter spike this season as in years past, and cases and hospitalizations are stable.

Still, about 1,000 cases were reported each day in L.A. County last week, though with at-home testing that number is an undercount. The coronavirus is still killing about 40 people per day in California, 15 of them in L.A. County.

What’s next

For now, people aged 6 months and older can still get free COVID vaccines and the updated booster.

“Over the next few months, we'll be working very hard with our many partners in L.A. County to make sure that those who are uninsured or underinsured, retain access to these life-saving tools and that everyone in the county has easy access to the vaccines,” Barbara Ferrer, the L.A. County Public Health Director, said Thursday.

What questions do you have about the pandemic and health care?
Jackie Fortiér helps Southern Californians understand the pandemic by identifying what's working and what's not in our health response.

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