There is deep concern in our communities and vulnerable populations about a topic that impacts many New Mexicans: the idea “free” COVID-19 services are going away.
In a nutshell, federal COVID-19 reimbursement guidelines have changed, and that affects services that used to be available at no cost to the public. While vaccines and treatments do remain free to the public, the cost of administering them is absorbed by providers who themselves struggle to handle the additional operational costs.
Everyone – regardless of your ability to pay – should get tested, vaccinated and treated because everyone deserves the ability to minimize illness from COVID-19. We are in this together and need to look out for each other.
So we want to reassure you these critical services will still be available at little or no cost to you. However, there are big changes that started July 1, and we want to make sure everyone is aware and understands what their options are.
If you have insurance, please check with your health insurer, including Medicaid and Medicare, for coverage of testing, vaccinations and treatment. We anticipate these services will be covered at minimal to no cost under most health insurance plans.
If you qualify for Medicaid, we urge you to enroll, which you can easily do at www.yes.state.nm.us. Some pharmacies and providers also offer sliding-scale payment options.
If you are one of the approximately 287,000 uninsured people in New Mexico, there are still many options available for you. Here is a list of free or low-cost options:
• Order free home tests or find a location for a test at findatestnm.org.
• From Project Act you can get five home tests per household through August.
• From COVID.gov, you can get an additional four home tests per household.
• If you have symptoms or have been exposed to someone with COVID – also called diagnostic testing – PCR testing will still be provided at no cost to those without health insurance through Curative and Net Medical Xpress.
• New Mexico Department of Health vaccine events are open to everyone, as are our Public Health Offices across the state.
• Churches, community organizations and other groups can organize free DOH-sponsored vaccine events at vaccinenm.org.
• In-person and telehealth options are available at findatreatmentnm.com.
• Or, call the hotline: 1-855-600-3453 for help finding a provider or pharmacy.
• For COVID-19 care for uninsured individuals, the Health and Human Services federal government site, hhs.gov, has links to free or low-cost resources
We can do it together
We recognize that navigating the COVID space can sometimes be hard, frustrating or confusing. But there are many ways to beat COVID, and that includes vaccines, testing, treatments and COVID-safe practices. Thanks to all our community has been doing, hospitalizations and deaths from COVID have remained relatively stable, and together we can do more.
If you are a provider of services, we ask that you share what is available at no-cost or low cost. Also, many of us still need our boosters, and the long-awaited vaccine for children aged six months and older is finally here!
We have also worked on a toolkit on our COVID resources webpage, cv.nmhealth.org/extra-protection/, about when to continue COVID safe practices like wearing masks or avoiding large crowds when community levels of COVID are high – you can also check for this on covid.gov – or when you are around people at high risk for severe COVID like those who are immunocompromised.
So let’s keep prioritizing safety and not give up in the last mile. We can’t say when we’ll beat this thing, but all signs point to us being closer than ever. I’m really proud of how far we’ve come together.