The news is good and bad when it comes to the COVID-19 Test-to-Treat Program that was launched in March.
Good: Pfizer's Paxlovid and Merck's Lagevrio, when taken within five days of developing your first COVID-19 symptoms, can prevent severe illness, hospitalizations, and death, especially among chronically ill (diabetes, heart disease, etc.), disabled, and older Americans.
Good: All qualified healthcare providers can prescribe these antivirals. And now the Department of Health and Human Services is distributing oral antiviral pills directly to participating Test-to-Treat pharmacy-based clinics and long-term care pharmacies. You can get tested and prescribed antivirals all in one visit. An online national map shows locations that are offering the service: https://covid-19-test-to-treat-locator-dhhs.hub.arcgis.com.
Bad: According to a survey of the Test-to-Treat system by Kaiser Health News, many locales have no nearby clinics that can offer such services. Where there are clinics, there are online glitches, and for the non-tech savvy, things get especially tricky. In addition, some places charge up to $100 for in-person and telehealth Test-to-Treat visits. People without insurance, those whose health plans don't cover visits to the clinics, or those who have high-deductible plans must shoulder the full costs.
Talk to your primary care physician about Test-to-Treat at his/her office before you need it, so you're prepared.
Order free at-home test kits ahead of time from www.covid.gov/tests.
Kaiser Health News says that Truepill offers online COVID-19 assessments and medications through its website findcovidcare.com. Truepill, available in all 50 states and Washington, D.C., costs $25 to $55.