Special Enrollment Period for People Impacted by Hurricane Harvey, Irma, or Maria
Were you impacted or do you know someone who might have been impacted by the Harvey, Irma, or Maria hurricanes? Finally, there is some good news for them. The Centre for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has extended the period for enrollment into healthcare plans to 31 December 2017.
This extension will ensure that the people severely impacted by the hurricanes have adequate time to manage their insurance plans. It will gives seniors more time to select a 2018 plan for Medicare Part D or Advantage plan.
After this trying time of loss and grief, it is time they have something to be thankful for. It might not change their situation much, but it might lessen the financial effects of the tragedy.
Area of Coverage for the Extension
This extension covers only those impacted by Hurricane Harvey, Irma, or Maria. The impacted people from Texas, Florida, South Carolina, Georgia, Louisiana, the Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico are eligible for the special enrollment periods.
Press Releases on CMS Interventions
Making the press release, CMS Administrator Seema Verma indicated that millions of American lives had been disrupted by the hurricanes and said Medicare would like to show its commitment to affordable healthcare.
She indicated that the extension would give people an opportunity to apply for insurance at the time they need it the most. The extension will allow for enrollment and switches between medical care plans.
For those impacted by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, or Maria, you can reach the Medicare at 1-800-633-4227 to get more information on the extension and to know how to effect the changes for your 2018 Medicare plan enrolment.
CMS also indicated that there would be a possibility of extending the Special Enrollment Period beyond 31 December 2017 after examining the situation in areas that have been impacted by the hurricane.
This release pointed out that if the situation requires another extension, it would be duly offered to the impacted.
Scope of Coverage
In a statement, the CMS also reported that since the public health emergencies was in effect, they had modified certain healthcare requirements for Medicare, Medicaid, and children health programs.
This was to give healthcare providers, suppliers, and facilities the flexibility they need to focus on the safety and health of the people impacted by the hurricanes.
Reasons for Extension
Public health emergencies had been declared in the areas that had extensive hurricane damage by Tom Price, who is the former Secretary for Health and Human Services.
The CMS had to come in and the reason for extension was cited as the changed situations of the impacted people due to the devastation that occurred and the need for quick action.
The extension is to allow them sign up for Medicare and Medicaid to take care of healthcare services that they might not be able to afford due to their changed economic situations.
Most of the impacted people were left jobless and others homeless after the hurricane. To benefit from the extension you must live or have lived in the impacted areas at the time.
Extent of the Cover
A statement from the CMS said that the enrollment in the hurricane stricken areas began the day the storms hit.
The impacted people were allowed to enroll, dis-enroll, and change their Medicare or prescription drug plans before the annual enrollment period, which normally runs from October 15 to December 7.
The ACA open enrolment starts from November 1 2017 to December 15 2017. For the Medicare beneficiaries, this extension will allow those seeking to enroll or cancel plans and those seeking to change Medicare health or their prescription drug plans to do so without having to worry about missing the annual open period during this extension period that runs up to 31 December 2017.
This, however, only applies to those impacted by the Harvey, Irma, and Maria Hurricanes. The others not impacted by these storms have to enroll by December 7, 2017.
Federal Exchange Clause
This extension only applies to the Federal Health Insurance Exchange. The Federal Health Insurance Exchange is spread across the country and you can buy plans from it.
However, when a state chooses its own marketplace, it cannot purchase plans from the federal insurance marketplace.
This means that all other states except Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands are eligible for this extension on federal insurance. This is because these states did not set up their own insurance marketplaces and only purchase insurance from the federal market place.
As such, they are eligible for Medicare, Medicaid, and ACA insurance covers.
Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands have their own marketplace for insurance and thus, those impacted from those areas are eligible for Medicare and Medicaid but not for ACA insurance on the Federal Marketplace.
The impacted people who had to move to new places also have an opportunity to select a new plan in their new areas to prevent lapses in their insurance coverage.
If you had a pending insurance application for 2017 and you were hit by the hurricane, you still need to compete the process by the end of the year.
The 2017 plans need to be complete at the end of the year such that if you have had a life change, you need to complete the application by the end of the year if your plan is for the year 2017.
Life changes include the birth of a child, a death, or any situation that leaves you or a dependent vulnerable without an insurance plan. However, life changes do not necessarily mean that you need to apply immediately since they are not limited to the annual open period only.
You can alter them any time of the year when a life change occurs. The end of year deadline only applies to 2017 marketplace plans.
For the seniors and others who were impacted, take advantage of this offer by talking to the Medicaid office today to get a plan. You can reach them on 1-800-633-4227 to get more information.