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Access to free COVID tests will be limited for some Michigan residents

Someone using a rapid covid test

Some Michigan residents will no longer have access to free COVID tests.

The federal government ended the COVID-19 public health emergency declaration today.

Those seeking free COVID tests will have until May 11 at 11:59PM to request them through COVID.gov.

Insurance companies will be able to apply co-pays to COVID tests administered at hospitals and doctors offices.

John Baker is the director of laboratories at Sparrow Health System.

"There's no longer an instruction from the federal government to insurers that they must pay for all COVID tests. So it moves it back into the same realm that we see for other respiratory testing."

Baker says other changes in health care triggered by the pandemic, such as telehealth appointments and drive-through testing services, are here to stay.

At Sparrow Health Systems, patients seeking a COVID test will need to request it in advance of their appointment.

Free at-home tests will no longer be provided by the federal government, but some community health centers will continue administering free tests.

Project ACT will provide free tests through the mail until June 2023.

Those insured through Medicaid can continue to get COVID tests both over-the-counter, and at a doctors office or hospital for no cost, until September 2024.

At home COVID tests are qualifiable medical expenses for flexible spending arrangements and health savings accounts.

The State of Michigan will continue to provide free tests at some community centers as long as funding lasts, which is projected to be until the middle of next year.

Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian is Michigan's chief medical executive.

She says COVID testing fees will largely depend on insurance coverage.

"I would recommend calling your insurance provider to find out exactly what your out-of-pocket cost could be for either over-the-counter tests or on-site laboratory testing."

Billing for COVID tests will be similar to treatment for COVID-19. Dr. Bagdasarian expects the COVID-19 vaccine to be provided for free.

Bagdasarian says the most effective way to combat the spread of COVID-19 is to keep one's vaccination status up-to-date.

Taylor Bowie is a senior studying English Literature at the University of Michigan and an intern in the Michigan Radio newsroom. She is originally from Owosso, Michigan.
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