The Covid-19 Public Health Emergency ended in May of 2023. At that time, the US government paid about $530 per course of Paxlovid and distributed millions of free doses to pharmacies and clinics nationwide. But in October, everything changed.
Pfizer announced that their five-day course of Paxlovid would soon jump to around $1400 once it hit the commercial market—so most people would no longer get it for free. Today, some high-risk patients have shelled out hundreds or thousands of dollars to get medicine for Covid.
The shift from the public to the private sector is still in progress. States, health centers, prescribers and pharmacies are doing their best to keep costs low, but little about the process currently feels cut-and-dry. Still, a bit of know-how can help you get your Paxlovid cost down to (almost) nothing at all
Below, we dig into the messy details to explain what Paxlovid costs with or without insurance. Plus, how you can get a prescription for Paxlovid online with a $15 consultation from Dr. B.
If you test positive for Covid-19, talk to your primary care doctor before choosing your next course of action. They’ll report your case to health authorities, which keeps national case counts accurate. And you’ll want the documentation in case you develop chronic symptoms (long Covid) and need treatment down the line. Depending on your health history, your provider may treat symptoms with prescription or over-the-counter (OTC) medications.
If you have a health condition, you may be at high risk for progression to severe Covid-19. In that case, Paxlovid can reduce your risk of hospitalization by 40-60%. (Depending on your age.) But you need to start Covid pill dosing within your first five days of symptom onset.
You can get a Paxlovid prescription from your primary care doctor, local clinic or a telehealth provider. Head to Dr. B to learn about Paxlovid side effects and rebound risks—or get a same-day Paxlovid prescription through a $15 online consultation.
If you’re healthy and have mild-to-moderate Covid-19, you probably don’t need to take specific Covid medicines. Instead, get plenty of rest and stay hydrated. Since you don’t need Paxlovid, OTC medicines like acetaminophen (Tylenol) and anti-inflammatories like ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin) can help reduce fever and body pain.
Either way, make sure to mask when around others. You don’t want to spread the virus to your nearest and dearest!
The cost of Paxlovid for insured people with Covid-19 is tricky. Some private insurers are providing Covid-19 care at no cost. So check your carrier for details. Some cities and states have programs that offer free vaccines and medications. A quick search engine query should help you find such local support.
Otherwise, out-of-pocket costs are largely determined by insurance plan agreements. That means copays, deductibles and maximum out-of-pocket expenses will apply. So if you’re used to paying $5 or $75 for a brand-name medication, you should expect to pay around the same for Paxlovid. Check with your insurance provider for details.
Those with high-deductible plans may be eligible for help via Pfizer’s Co-Pay Program. If you qualify, the program will provide a co-pay card to present at your pharmacy when you pick up the prescription, with your out-of-pocket cost capping at $140 or less.
You may also qualify for the National Institutes of Health Test-To-Treat program. It offers free at-home tests for Covid-19 and flu for those underinsured or on government health plans. But any high-risk person with an active infection can get telehealth and prescription costs covered. You won’t be billed by a pharmacy or provider, and the program won’t collect your insurance information.
Another option is to call your local pharmacies to see if they have any remaining Paxlovid doses distributed for free by the federal government.
You can still buy Paxlovid if you don’t have insurance. But the price can range between $1,000 and $1,400—and that’s with a drug discount card. So you’ll probably want to look for a patient assistance program to cut that cost drastically.
Enrollment in the above Test-To-Treat program is free for anyone without insurance over 18. If you don’t have a current infection, you can get free Covid-10 and flu tests. You’ll also be ready to access free telehealth appointments and Covid medicines if you get sick.+
According to the Department of Health and Human Services, Covid antivirals will remain free to those without insurance and those with government-assisted plans through 2024.
If you have any of the above and are prescribed Paxlovid, you may be able to show your care card at your pharmacy or clinic to get the prescription for free. Contact your provider or pharmacy beforehand to be sure.
Other eligible people include:
Wondering “How do I find Paxlovid near me?” or “How do I buy Paxlovid now?” Dr. B has you covered.
We offer Paxlovid online prescriptions through a $15 online consultation—no appointment or video visit required. First, you’ll fill out a hassle-free questionnaire, sharing your health history, symptoms and current medications. If appropriate, a licensed provider will send a prescription for Paxlovid treatment to your online or local pharmacy of choice. Get started today!
Bai, Y., et al. (2024). Public health impact of Paxlovid as treatment for Covid-19. Emerging Infectious Diseases.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2023). If you get sick with Covid-19, antiviral treatment can protect you against severe illness.
Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. (2024). Commercial Covid-19 oral antivirals memo.
Department of Health and Human Services. (2023). Letter to COVID-19 therapeutics manufacturers, distributors, pharmacies and the health care payer community.
Shah, M.M., et al. (2022). Paxlovid associated with decreased hospitalization rate among adults with Covid-19. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.