At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the federal government declared a public health emergency (PHE), which will end on May 11. During the PHE, the government has had flexibility in several health-related areas, including fully covering the cost of most COVID-19 testing, treatment, and vaccines.
The end of the PHE may affect residents’ health care through changes to insurance coverage, costs, and access to certain COVID-19 services. The end of the PHE also affects eligibility for Health First Colorado, Colorado’s Medicaid program, and Child Health Plan Plus (CHP+).
All residents can prepare for the end of the PHE by making sure you are up to date with COVID-19 vaccines and ordering free tests before May 11. As always, know how to prepare if you’ve been exposed to COVID and stay home when you are sick.
Despite the end of the PHE, Arapahoe County Public Health’s COVID-19 Program will continue to assist our communities with resources and guidance:
Upcoming changes related to coverage, cost and access to COVID-19 testing, treatment, vaccines and health coverage include:
Private health insurance companies and Medicare will no longer be required to cover over-the-counter and lab COVID-19 tests. However, some insurers may continue to voluntarily cover them. Testing will remain covered by Medicaid.
- Contact your health insurance provider to see what’s covered.
- Order one set of four free at-home tests at www.covid.gov/tests, while supplies last.
- Find community locationsthat have free at-home tests available. Make sure you call the location before visiting because test availability may change at any time. Arapahoe County can also help find test kits; email us at COVIDinfo@arapahoegov.com.
There will be no change in how treatments are covered, and in cases where cost sharing and deductibles apply now, they will continue to apply. Access to federally-distributed oral antivirals, such as Paxlovid and Lagevrio, will not be affected. Medicaid coverage of COVID-19 treatment will continue through Sept. 30, 2024.
- Stay in contact with your health insurance provider for coverage updates.
Access to COVID-19 vaccinations will not be affected at this time. The federal supply of COVID-19 vaccines and boosters, while available, will remain free to everyone, regardless of health insurance coverage. The federal supply is likely to run out this fall or winter. When that happens, insurance companies are not required to cover COVID-19 vaccines. However, the COVID-19 vaccine is considered a preventive health service and most private insurance plans will cover it without a cost, like annual flu shots. Coverage will vary by insurance provider. Children can access vaccines free of cost through the Vaccines for Children program.
Updated COVID-19 Vaccination Guidance
The CDC simplified COVID-19 vaccine recommendations on April 19, 2023:
- If you are age 6 and older or under 65 – you are up to date if you have had an updated bivalent mRNA dose since September 2022. Even if you have never been vaccinated, you can now just get one bivalent mRNA dose!
- If you are age 65 or older or immunocompromised – the CDC recommends that you get another bivalent mRNA dose.
- Children under 6 – should talk with their provider as recommendations vary by age and previous COVID-19 vaccines.
- For those who cannot receive an mRNA vaccine Novavax and Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen are available options. Note, all J&J doses are set to expire by the end of May.
- Moderna and Pfizer monovalent doses are no longer authorized.
Health First Colorado, CHP+ Health Coverage
The PHE allowed all Health First Colorado and CHP+ members to keep their coverage, regardless of a change in eligibility. When the federal PHE ends in May 2023, all states must review the qualifications of all members of the medical assistance programs.
- Make sure your address, phone number, and email address are up to date so you receive a renewal packet:
- Visit CO.gov/PEAK. If you don’t have a PEAK account, you can create one at CO.gov/PEAK.
- Use the Health First Colorado app on your phone. This free app is for Health First Colorado and CHP+ members. Download it for free in the Google Play or Apple App stores.
- CHP+ members can call 1-800-359-1991 (State Relay: 711). Help is available in multiple languages.