15 Million People Could Lose Medicaid Benefits As Emergency COVID-19 Provisions End

Many or all of the products here are from our partners that compensate us. It’s how we make money. But our editorial integrity ensures our experts’ opinions aren’t influenced by compensation. Terms may apply to offers listed on this page.

What happened

The COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE) that's been in place since early in the pandemic will end on May 11. The emergency provisions gave authorities extra funding and flexibility in various aspects of healthcare, particularly Medicaid and COVID-related services. On Monday (Jan. 30), the White House set an end date for these special rules, giving hospitals, local health authorities, and healthcare providers some time to prepare. 

So what

The end of the PHE will have an impact on every American's healthcare costs, particularly those on Medicaid. Continuous Medicaid -- a key part of the pandemic health provisions -- meant states received extra funding as long as they didn't drop people from their books. When it finishes, as many as 15 million people could leave the program, according to a government report. 

Some people will leave because they're no longer eligible. But an estimated 7 million who are still entitled to Medicaid could fall out of the system for procedural reasons. "We have no illusion that this will be beautiful or graceful, but we will be doing everything we can not to lose anyone in the process," Dana Hittle, Oregon’s interim Medicaid director, told USA Today

Now what

If you're worried about the impact the end of the emergency will have on your bank account, a lot depends on your situation. We're talking about a web of somewhat impromptu measures, and a lot depends on what state you're in as well as your healthcare status. 

If you receive Medicaid, make sure your contact information is up to date and pay attention to any requests for information. You may need to renew your coverage or receive instructions about switching to a different system. In addition to the end to the continuous Medicaid provisions, here are two key ways Americans may be impacted.

1. COVID-19 tests, treatment, and vaccines 

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), the public health emergency meant: 

  • Those on Medicare could get up to eight at-home COVID tests a month and access vaccines and certain treatments for free.
  • Those on Medicaid and CHIP could access vaccines, as well as some testing and treatments for free. 
  • Those covered by private health insurance could get up to eight at-home COVID tests and access out-of-network treatment and vaccines at no cost.

The reason it's hard to fully understand the impact of the end of the PHE is that some of those provisions will continue. For example, many Americans will still be able to access free vaccines, but will likely have to pay for testing services once the emergency ends. Stock up on free tests while they're available and speak to your healthcare provider to find out more.

2. Changes to telehealth services

Telehealth services changed for Medicare beneficiaries during the PHE. Not only could people access additional services in new ways, you didn't have to live in a rural area to access telehealth services. According to the KFF, this will continue until the end of 2024.

Medicaid telehealth services will vary from state to state as many plan to keep the new provisions. Similarly if you're insured privately it depends on your provider. Some healthcare providers have already started to charge for email advice.

The end of the public health emergency won't impact everybody equally, but whatever your situation, it's better to know before you need to access healthcare. That way you're less likely to be hit with an unexpected bill.

Our best car insurance companies for 2024

Ready to shop for car insurance? Whether you’re focused on price, claims handling, or customer service, we've researched insurers nationwide to provide our best-in-class picks for car insurance coverage. Read our free expert review today to get started.

Our Research Expert

Related Articles

View All Articles Learn More Link Arrow