Expiring Covid public health emergency will affect access to Medicaid, over-the-counter tests

Hundreds of cases are confirmed a day and while monthly death totals still come in by the hundreds, but as far as the government is concerned, the COVID-19 public health emergency is over.

The federal emergency order that's been in effect since the onset of the pandemic in 2020 will expire on May 11. With it will go some health care coverage options as well as the availability of free COVID-19 tests from over the counter.

Among the biggest changes will be that some recipients covered by Medicaid will see certain waivers and flexibilities within the program end. In Michigan, hundreds of thousands of residents could be impacted.

The federal health department said the government had originally expanded access in a broad fashion to ensure as many people as possible were covered. The measures enabled the country's health care system to adapt to the strain that COVID-19 put on its infrastructure.

Given the need for capacity within hospitals has fallen, many of those pandemic-era waivers are ending. The number of Michigan residents dropped from Medicaid, according to Bridge Magazine, could be as high as 400,000.

The emergency order's expiration means governments will resume periodic reviews of the recipients that have signed up for coverage, meaning individuals will need to show they qualify for the policy.

Patients that use Medicaid should have received notice from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services about the change. More information about coverage can be found here.

Finding Covid tests

Over-the-counter Covid tests will also no longer be required to be fully subsidized by private insurance. Anyone purchasing them may need to shell out money to cover part of the cost of the tests.

However, in Michigan there are some services that will continue offering the tests, including Project Act, which provides free at-home test kits to eight states. 

Getting the tests mailed to one's house is easy. Users just need to input their zip code into this website.