The outbreak of COVID-19 resulted in a public health emergency declared by the U.S. government in March 2020. This declaration allowed the government to implement emergency measures to protect citizens’ health, such as expanding access to health insurance coverage, providing funds for vaccine development, and offering economic aid.
On February 4th, 2021, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced the end of the public health emergency. This announcement ushers in a new era of health insurance coverage and access. Here’s what you need to know about the new developments.
Expanded Health Care Coverage and Benefits
The end of the public health emergency has enabled HHS to expand healthcare coverage and benefits for individuals and families. The new measures include:
- Expanded coverage for telehealth services: Telehealth services enable individuals to access health care remotely without having to leave their homes. HHS has permitted for expanded coverage of telehealth services for Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries.
- Increased access to non-emergency medical transportation: HHS has also increased access to non-emergency medical transportation (NEMT) to ensure that individuals without access to transportation can get to their medical appointments.
- Increased access to health services in rural areas: HHS has expanded access to health services in rural areas by increasing access to telehealth services and providing funds for rural health clinics.
Improved Access to Health Insurance Coverage
The end of the public health emergency has also led to improved access to insurance coverage. HHS has implemented the following measures to increase access to insurance coverage:
- Extension of Medicaid coverage: Medicaid coverage has been extended for individuals and families struggling to pay for medical care due to the pandemic.
- Increased access to marketplace coverage: HHS has also increased access to health insurance coverage in the marketplace. The new measures include a special enrollment period for those who have lost their job-based coverage due to the pandemic.
- Increased access to Medicare coverage: HHS has also increased access to Medicare coverage for individuals over the age of 65.
HHS’s announcement of the end of the public health emergency has ushered in a new era of health insurance coverage and access. With the new measures, individuals and families now have improved access to insurance coverage and health care benefits.