End of the COVID Public Health Emergency
On January 30, 2023, President Biden announced that the federal government’s COVID Public Health Emergency declaration will end on May 11, 2023.
Does that mean the pandemic is over?
No. COVID-19 will be with us for a long time, but now we have the tools to manage it better in our day-to-day lives.
The Public Health Emergency Declaration is a tool that the federal government used to temporarily loosen policies or processes to help everyone get things that they needed during the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes things like free COVID vaccines, tests, and treatment; being able to talk with your doctor or health care provider by phone or Zoom; and making sure that people with Medical Assistance and CHIP would not lose their health insurance when they needed it most.
Keep your Medicaid/CHIP Benefits
Medicaid and CHIP
Starting April 1, 2023, if you have Medical Assistance (MA) or Children’s Health Insurance Programs (CHIP), you must complete a renewal each year to continue your coverage. You will start to receive information in the mail about your renewal 90 days before it is due.
1 - Update your Contact Information with DHS
To receive the renewal and other important information, update your address, phone number, or email address here:
- ONLINE - Visit dhs.pa.gov/COMPASS and log into your My COMPASS Account.
- PHONE - Call 1-877-395-8930 Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
- APP - Use the free myCOMPASS PA mobile app.
2 - Complete your MA or CHIP Renewal
It is very important that renewal forms are completed and returned even if nothing has changed. You can renew your MA or CHIP coverage four ways:
- MAIL- Complete the forms DHS sends and mail them back in the envelope included in the packet.
- IN-PERSON - Drop off the completed forms at the local county assistance office (CAO).
- ONLINE - Go to dhs.pa.gov/COMPASS to complete the renewal online.
- PHONE - Call 1-866-550-4355 to complete the renewal over the phone.
No insurance? If you don't qualify for Medicaid or CHIP, you can get insurance through Pennie.
Need mental health or substance use services? You may qualify for help through Montgomery County.
- Mental Health Services - Find a Community Behavioral Health Center near you to get started.
- Drug and Alcohol Services - Find a Case Management Office near you to get started.
Where can you get COVID Vaccination, Tests, and Treatment?
Changes to free COVID vaccination, testing, and treatment are described below:
Getting a COVID Vaccine
COVID vaccines will remain available at no cost while the federal supply is available. Once the federal supply runs out, most insurance types must cover vaccines at no cost. Those who are uninsured will still be able to find free vaccines through the Office of Public Health.
Private insurance (including insurance purchased through the Pennie)
Insurance plans must cover the cost of COVID vaccines and boosters. There should be no charge if the vaccine provider is in-network. If you are not sure if your vaccine provider is in-network, call the customer service line on the back of your insurance card to find out.
Medicaid, CHIP, and Medicare
Medicaid, CHIP, and Medicare Part B and Part D must provide COVID vaccines and boosters. Use this tool to find free COVID vaccines near you.
People who do not have health insurance can still get free COVID-19 vaccines through the Office of Public Health. Visit our webpage to make an appointment.
Finding COVID-19 Tests
There will be some changes in access to free COVID tests after the end of the Public Health Emergency, depending on the kind of test and the type of insurance you have.
The federal government is providing four free tests to all households through March 31 by visiting CovidTests.gov or calling 1-800-232-0233. Order tests if your household supply is low.
Before May 11
- Free at-home test kits are available to people with private insurance, Medicare, and Medicaid.
- Contact your health insurance provider for information about how to get at-home tests. Visit your insurance provider’s website or call the telephone number on the back of your insurance card.
After May 11
- Private insurance and Medicare will no longer be required to provide at-home tests at no cost.
- People who use Medicaid may be able to obtain free at-home tests.
- Contact your health insurance provider for information about coverage for at-home tests.
Pharmacies that have at-home tests available:
- Eric's RX Shoppe: Click the “Online Form” to submit the request electronically or call 215-646-4800 during business hours
- Giant Pharmacy: Available in every store
- Skippack Pharmacy
- Walmart Pharmacy: Available in every store
Tests Administered by a Health Care Provider or Pharmacist
COVID tests will continue to be available through healthcare providers and pharmacies. There may be a cost for the test or the visit, depending on the type of insurance you have. Some testing providers may also require a referral or that you have symptoms in order to obtain a test. You can look up testing sites near you here: No-Cost COVID-19 Testing (cdc.gov)
Medicaid, CHIP, Medicare, or Private Insurance (including insurance purchased through Pennie)
If you are sick and have private insurance or Medicare, your insurance should cover the test at your healthcare provider’s office or with a doctor’s referral. Call the number on the back of your insurance card for specific details on your plan’s copays and preferred providers.
People who do not have insurance can continue obtain a COVID test through the Office of Public Health or another location near you. Call 610-278-5117 to schedule a COVID test at one of the Office of Public Health’s three health centers or visit No-Cost COVID-19 Testing (cdc.gov) to locate a free test near you. Some test providers require you to have a doctor’s referral, or to have symptoms, or make an appointment. Call ahead to make sure you have all the information you need and to make an appointment if one is required.
Getting Treatment for COVID-19
Treatment for COVID is available and can help people who have COVID avoid serious illness or hospitalization from COVID. If you have COVID, call your healthcare provider to discuss treatment options that may be right for you. If you do not have a primary care provider, you can visit an urgent care or a Test-to-Treat location. Click here to find a location near you. Anyone experiencing an emergency should go to the nearest ER to be evaluated.
Beginning May 11, there may be cost-sharing (or co-pay) for COVID treatment, depending on your insurance plan.
Private Insurance and Medicare
After May 11, people with private insurance or Medicare may have a cost-sharing requirement (or co-pay) for COVID medicines or other treatment. Call the number of the back of your insurance card to find out what your co-pay is based on your insurance plan.
Medicaid and CHIP
People who have Medicaid or CHIP will continue to have access to free medicines and treatment through at least the end of 2023.
If you do not have insurance, you will need to pay for treatment. Check with your health care provider or pharmacy for costs or resources to help with payment.