Mar 29, 2022 - Health

Why COVID care will likely get harder to access

Illustration of a hand holding a syringe as a pen and writing a dollar sign.

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

The discontinuation of the federal program that makes free COVID care available to uninsured Americans means that they're likely to have a lot more difficulty accessing pandemic care, according to a new KFF brief.

  • Higher costs for many covered Americans are likely right around the corner, too.

Why it matters: If patients are on the hook for more of their COVID-related costs, a bad case of the virus could suddenly become a much larger financial burden.

  • Or patients may simply be less willing to get tested or vaccinated.

The big picture: The federal government has spent billions on coronavirus tests, treatments and vaccines, and in some cases — such as through the uninsured fund — has also paid providers for administering such care.

  • Public and private insurers have been restricted from passing along some COVID-related costs to enrollees. But many of these restrictions are tied to the public health emergency, which is set to end next month unless it's extended again. 
  • The congressional standoff over new COVID funding has made this transition away from federal subsidization of care much more abrupt, especially for the uninsured. 
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