American Health Policy Institute
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End of Covid Public Health Emergency Could Increase Costs for Employers

President Biden announced the Covid-19 public health emergency (PHE) will end on May 11, 2023, just before the House voted along party lines to immediately end it.

Commercial market rates will apply. The end of the PHE will take pricing and coverage of Covid-19 vaccines, tests, and other treatments out of the government's control and move them to the commercial market.

Employees could see more costs depending on the terms of their employer benefits.   Employers often cover the costs of preventive care, such as vaccines, but often charge deductibles or require cost-sharing for other drugs and treatments. People without health insurance will have to pay out of pocket.

Limits in getting mental health prescriptions via telehealth will apply unless the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) extends them through rulemaking.  During the PHE, certain mental health providers could prescribe controlled substances to patients they have not seen in person via telehealth. That will end on May 11, 2023, and it will take some time for the DEA to finalize new rules.

But the end of the PHE won't impact most telehealth flexibilities, which were extended through 2024 by Congress in last year’s omnibus appropriations bill.

Outlook: The Senate plans to focus on out-of-pocket health care costs this year, and higher costs for Covid-19 shots, tests, and treatments will likely be the subject of at least one hearing.

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Authors: D. Mark Wilson

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