In April, after more than three years, President Joe Biden signed a congressional resolution declaring an end to the Covid-19 national emergency. The separate public health emergency expired May 11. As a result, many temporary public health and economic measures have ended or are being phased out, from health-insurance coverage extensions to debt relief programs.
Read on to find out which Covid measures are expiring and when.
When Is the End of the Covid National Emergency?
In the U.S., the end of the official Covid public health emergency was May 11, 2023. For government purposes, this is different from the national emergency, which President Biden ended in April.
Which Covid Measures Are Expiring?
With the end of the Covid emergency in the U.S., several measures are expiring or changing.
As of May 11, there is no national vaccine mandate in the U.S. This means that most federal workers and contractors are not required to be vaccinated against Covid-19, nor are any visitors to the U.S. Private companies may have their own policies.
Free Covid Tests
According to the Department of Labor (DOL.gov), the end of the Covid public health emergency means private insurance plans are no longer required to fully cover Covid tests, including over-the-counter boxed tests. If you need a Covid test, it’s a good idea to confirm the cost with your insurance beforehand.
Some people with government benefits will continue to receive free testing. For those covered by Medicare, lab tests for Covid-19 that are ordered by a healthcare provider will be free. For Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) recipients, Covid tests — both over-the-counter and from a doctor’s office or lab — are covered through September 30, 2024.
Note: Before you throw out any Covid tests you have at home, check to see whether their expiration date has been extended , as many have. If so, they are still usable. While the Covid emergency has ended, the Covid virus remains in circulation.
As of this writing, Covid vaccines are still available for free to everyone (ages 6 months and up), regardless of immigration or insurance status. Free vaccines are available from providers in your insurance network or from a public health provider.
Vaccines are not free at private pharmacies like CVS, but insurance will cover them. You do not need insurance nor ID to get a Covid vaccine at a public health provider. Find a vaccine here (in English and en Español) or by texting your ZIP code to 438829.
COBRA Health Insurance
During the Covid emergency, deadlines for enrolling in and paying for COBRA (a way to continue employer-sponsored plans without being employed) were extended. These extensions will expire on July 11, 2023. After this date, you will have the standard 60 days to enroll in COBRA following a “qualifying event” (e.g. job loss, divorce, etc.). Payment for COBRA must be paid within 45 days of signing up; if you sign up by mail, this is the day you mail your form.
COBRA is expensive. Employers tend to subsidize plan premiums, so employees are not responsible for the entire cost. If you have a Health Savings Account (HSA), you may use those funds to pay your COBRA premiums.
COBRA isn’t your only option if you lose your employer-based health insurance. You can see all of your insurance options at Healthcare.gov, and find out if you qualify for free- or low-cost health insurance.
Recommended: HSA vs HRA: What’s the Difference?
Free Weekly Credit Reports
During the Covid public health emergency, the three largest U.S. credit bureaus — Equifax, Experian and TransUnion — made free credit reports available weekly, rather than yearly as required by federal law. This provision has been extended through December 31, 2023. Through the end of the year, anyone may receive one free credit report per week. Note that credit reports don’t show your credit score but do give a history of your financial activities, such as credit card payment history, mortgages, loans, etc.
Debt Relief Programs
As of May 2023, all federal Covid emergency debt relief programs have ended. The American Relief Plan (ARP) also will not be issuing any more stimulus checks.
If you have kids and you aren’t already receiving the child tax credit ($2,000), check if you’re eligible. To qualify, your child must have a social security number and be no older than 17 at the end of the year.
Though the Paycheck Protection Program ended in May 2021, anyone who received a loan may be eligible for forgiveness .
Federal student loans payments have been on pause throughout the Covid emergency. Student loan payments remain suspended until a Supreme Court decision — expected in June 2023 — and will likely restart 60 days after a decision is announced. If no student loan relief program has been initiated by June 30, payments will start 60 days later.
Rent Relief and Eviction Moratoriums
Federal homeowner relief has ended, but each state also has its own funds. Likewise, the federal eviction moratorium ended in August 2021, but some states and counties are maintaining their rental assistance programs. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has a list of rental assistance programs that are and are not accepting applications.
All Covid-related travel restrictions in the U.S. have ended. There are now no travel restrictions for anyone visiting the U.S.
The U.S. has reached the end of Covid-19 public health emergency and, with it, the end of many federal programs put in place to help people weather the pandemic. These include the end of rent relief and eviction moratoriums and debt relief programs. Although Covid testing will no longer be free everywhere, in-network testing by a provider is covered by insurance (at-home tests are not) and testing at government test sites is covered. The national vaccine mandate has ended, but vaccines remain free for all, regardless of immigration and insurance status.
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