Tested Positive for COVID-19? Antiviral Pills Should Be Free

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  • Antiviral treatment for COVID-19 was recently approved, and production on those pills is ramping up.
  • If you need antiviral pills following a COVID-19 diagnosis, you shouldn't have to spend any money to get the treatment you need.

Having one less expense to worry about is crucial at a time like this.

Many Americans have seen their finances take a turn for the worse in the course of the COVID-19 pandemic. Not only did unemployment explode early on in the health crisis, but these days, a lot of households are struggling to make ends meet due to raging inflation. Many have been relying on their savings and racking up large credit card tabs just to cover basic expenses like food, utilities, and medication.

In fact, some people may have incurred extra expenses as a result of being diagnosed with COVID-19. From over-the-counter medications to supplies like pulse oximeters, Americans have no doubt spent a fair amount of money due to having fallen ill.

The good news, though, is that there are new antiviral pills available that could reduce COVID-19 symptom severity and, in some cases, reduce the likelihood of a diagnosed patient needing hospitalization. And those who are eligible for those pills shouldn't have to spend a dime to get their hands on them.

Free treatment for an ongoing ailment

Earlier on in the pandemic, health experts were hoping that herd immunity would perhaps wipe out COVID-19 the same way older viruses have been virtually eliminated. But at this point, it seems clear that a "wipe out COVID" approach isn't very feasible.

Instead, health experts say we need to learn to coexist with the virus as it circulates in perpetuity, the same way the flu comes around to wreak havoc every winter. The positive news, though, is that we have tools at our disposal to help prevent severe illness from COVID-19. And those tools go beyond just vaccines.

Recently, Pfizer's Paxlovid antiviral treatment was approved for use in the treatment of COVID-19. In clinical trials, the drug formula was 89% effective at preventing hospitalization among those who were at risk of developing severe illness from the virus.

Now, Pfizer is working to deliver 1 million courses of Paxlovid to be distributed across pharmacies and community health centers. And those who are eligible to receive Paxlovid treatment won't have to pay out of pocket for it.

Rather, the Biden Administration is making those pills free as part of its Test to Treat initiative. Under this system, if someone tests positive for COVID-19, they can, in theory, receive pills on the spot without having to fork over any money.

Reducing the financial burden

COVID-19 has dealt a major financial blow to a lot of people. Since 2020, Americans have been forced to dip into their own bank accounts to cover the cost of things like hand sanitizer, masks, and rapid COVID-19 tests, which insurance companies were not required to reimburse for until recently. For those living paycheck to paycheck, it's been a huge burden.

Thankfully, the Biden Administration is doing its part to make it so Americans don't have to bear as many COVID-related costs. In addition to free antiviral treatment, it launched a program in January that allowed households to order four at-home COVID-19 test kits at no charge. And starting the week of March 7, Americans can actually order a second round of rapid COVID-19 tests -- up to four per household -- without having to pay. Hopefully, having these costs covered will make navigating this pandemic a bit easier for many people.

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