Aug 19, 2022 - Health

COVID costs could fall on insurers and consumers

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Consumers should prepare to soon pay for COVID-19 treatments and vaccines as the federal government prepares to shift costs back to health insurers.

Driving the news: The Department of Health and Human Services has a meeting scheduled later this month with drugmakers, pharmacies, and state health departments to address the changes, the Wall Street Journal reports.

"We've known at some point we'd need to move over into the commercial market, and we’re approaching that time now," said Dawn O'Connell, assistant secretary at HHS for preparedness and response, per the WSJ.

  • White House COVID-19 response coordinator Ashish Jha said earlier this week the Biden administration will stop buying vaccines, treatments and tests as early as this fall, CNN reported.

Zoom in: Even as the administration appears to be extending the public health emergency, it's also been signaling its desire to move out of crisis mode — though that may not be easy.

  • "There are issues of reimbursement, equitable access to vaccines and treatment, and distribution that need to be resolved," Anne McDonald Pritchett, senior vice president at Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, told the WSJ.

Our thought bubble: Timing of the cost shift will be crucial. With new boosters rolling out this fall, it might significantly impact the number of people willing to roll up their sleeves if consumers have to pay.

Related: Everyone over 12 expected to be eligible for new boosters, White House official says

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