To respond to the threat of COVID-19, the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services declared a public health emergency (PHE) in January 2020. This allowed the federal government to aid health care systems in facilitating testing, vaccinations and treatments on a national scale. This PHE, after many renewals and more than three years, is set to expire May 11, 2023.

It’s important to know that just because the PHE is ending, this does not mean that COVID is gone. At the end of April, more than 1,000 people a week nationwide continued to die of COVID.

Limiting the spread of COVID-19 and ensuring all patients have access to care will remain priorities at all Novant Health clinics and hospitals. However, the end of the PHE means that health care systems are now at a point where they can transition away from a state of emergency. You may still need to receive COVID tests or treatment in the future, so it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with changes the end of the PHE brings, and how your insurance coverage applies.

Here’s how the end of the PHE will affect COVID-related health care products and services.

Make your health a priority, book a doctor appointment today.

Start here

Can I still get a COVID-19 vaccine or booster for free?

Yes, most insurance plans will continue to provide full coverage for COVID-19 vaccinations, meaning you will continue to pay no out-of-pocket cost to receive them. Medicare and Medicaid will continue to offer COVID vaccines and boosters with no cost to the recipient. You can check with your insurance provider to receive the details of COVID vaccine cost with your plan. You go here for resources about COVID vaccines and boosters.

Can I still receive prescription treatments for COVID?

Yes, prescription treatments for COVID-19, like Paxlovid and Lagevrio, will still be available. Out-of-pocket expenses for some treatments may change, depending on your health care coverage. Medicare and Medicaid will continue to cover COVID-19 treatments without cost sharing through Sept. 30, 2024. After that, coverage and cost sharing may vary by state. You can check with your insurance provider to receive the details of COVID treatment cost with your plan.

Are COVID-19 tests still covered?

This depends on the type of test and your insurance coverage. Current access to free over-the-counter at-home rapid COVID-19 tests will end and most insurance companies will no longer reimburse you for at-home test kits. If your doctor orders a COVID-19 PCR test for you because you have been exposed or have symptoms, your insurance company will continue to cover the cost. However, elective testing (such as getting a test before travel) may not be free. Medicare and Medicaid will continue to offer laboratory-conducted testing and may include a cost in the form of deductibles and coinsurances. You can check with your insurance provider to receive the details of COVID testing cost with your plan.

Can I still make a virtual/telehealth appointment with my doctor?

Yes, telehealth still will be an option with numerous health care providers. Many virtual/telehealth opportunities put in place during the PHE will remain through 2024, including audio-only and audio-video options. You can visit Novant Health’s on-demand portal here for more information about virtual/telehealth visits or to make an appointment. Legacy Novant Health New Hanover Regional Medical Center patients can log in to MyChart here.

Does the end of the PHE change masking guidelines?

Novant Health ended its universal masking rule on March 28, 2023. But this is not related to the end of the PHE. Novant Health follows guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for masking guidelines and may reinstate them as needed. While masks are no longer mandatory, you are welcome to wear a mask if you wish, and you can request that your health care provider wear one as well. Additionally, you should wear a mask on-site if you are, or your child is, experiencing respiratory symptoms.

Can Novant Health still help answer my questions about COVID?

Yes, Novant Health is still your reliable information source for COVID-related updates. You can click here for current COVID resources and to view the state of North Carolina’s infection and vaccination rates. Visit our online contact center to find a provider or schedule an appointment.