Beneficiaries need to understand how Medicare works in a Natural Disaster. Every year natural disasters impact people across the country and worldwide. Destroying the homes of millions, many of which are older adults, natural disasters leave many in distress. Knowing how to take care of your health during an emergency is important.
During these chaotic events, things may become quickly out of your control. For example, injuries to you or loved ones or losing important items and documents like your Medicare card, prescriptions, or medical equipment.
Recovering after these events can be difficult. On the other hand, having the right resources and tools beforehand can make the process much easier. Take a moment to understand how Medicare works in a natural disaster.
Understanding How Medicare Works in a Natural Disaster
After the impact of a natural disaster, things can quickly become chaotic or even destroyed. Don’t lose hope just yet, options are available to help recover important medical documents if they get lost. Seniors can use any of four options to recover losses and use Medicare for coverage during a state of emergency situations.
In the event of a natural disaster or state of emergency, your health-care coverage rules may temporarily change to better accommodate the situation. Medical treatment/services are in high demand for disaster victims, Medicare provides beneficiaries with coverage to ensure individuals receive the medical treatment they need.
Receiving Medical Care
If you need immediate medical attention, go to your nearest emergency room or call an ambulance for help, don’t wait. Waiting can cause further health complications or worse.
For non-emergency care, you may be able to get treatment from a different health-care provider. Airports and other major locations offer healthcare services to beneficiaries under certain circumstances.
If your area is struck by a natural disaster and you’re unable to find a doctor for medical care, call 911 immediately. Your healthcare plan may allow you to temporarily visit doctors in or out of your network.
If you’re part of a Medicare Advantage plan, call your plan to find out if any rule changes are made. Be sure to ask how long the changes will apply to your coverage to avoid unnecessary medical expenses.
Medicare understands that it’s most important your medical needs are met; therefore, temporarily providing more coverage options. Keep any receipts to make filing claims for reimbursement a smooth process.
During emergencies, (if possible) keep any important papers, receipts, or documents in a folder together. Doing so will benefit you when you need to get your affairs in order.
Accessing Prescription Drugs
What happens when you can’t fill your prescriptions at your regular pharmacy? Contact your Medicare Part D or Advantage plan if this is the case. An agent from your plan should assist you with finding another in-network pharmacy to temporarily fill your medications.
Using an out-of-network pharmacy can cost more out of pocket. In this case, keeping receipts is extremely important. Later, you can use your receipts to file a claim for reimbursement. Your plan can tell you where to send claims for reimbursement. If you’re unsure how to file a claim, give your plan a call and ask.
Medications and prescription drugs are no exception to the potential lost or damaged items during a natural disaster. Your drug plan can find a pharmacy where you may replace any lost prescriptions.
Be sure to provide your regular pharmacy’s location and contact number, in addition to a list of medications that were damaged or lost.
For areas with devastating damages, an extended-day supply of your prescriptions may be available. Consider asking your plan about this option, during these hard times having your prescriptions last longer can relieve some stress off your shoulders. Rebuilding and recovering from a disaster can be exhausting, worrying about your filling your medications shouldn’t be a factor.
Repairing or Replacing Medical Equipment
Many seniors need durable medical equipment (DME) to make everyday tasks possible. DME is medically necessary medical equipment (walker, cane, commode, oxygen tank, etc.) that Medicare covers.
If these items are destroyed during a natural disaster, Medicare may pay to repair or replace them. During the replacement or repair process, Medicare may cover the cost of rental equipment. Call your plan provider directly for more details about repairing or replacing durable medical equipment.
Replacing your Medicare Card
Medicare cards are often lost or damaged during a state of emergency. This can be inconvenient, fortunately, it’s not permanent; Social Security (SS) can issue new or replacement Medicare cards.
Simply, contact Social Security by phone or visit the SS website and request a new card. Your card should arrive via the U.S. Postal Service within 30 days of the request.
It’s important to make sure Social Security has your up-to-date address on file. This address can be permanent or temporary. To ensure you receive your card on time, the address on file should match your residence for the next 30 days. You may print a temporary card online in the meantime.
Natural disasters can destroy everything you own while leaving you hurt and often scared. However, knowing the resources available and how Medicare coverage works during a natural disaster should provide beneficiaries with some relief. Contact your plan directly if you’re unsure how your health-care policy works.
Medicare Advantage plans During a Natural Disaster
Medicare Advantage (MA) plans may have different guidelines and coverage benefits during natural disasters than Original Medicare offers. This is because MA plans are private insurance companies contracted with Medicare; MA plans replace your Original Medicare policy.
Beneficiaries using Medicare Advantage plans should contact insurance providers directly during a natural disaster or state of emergency. Knowing what your plan will cover during these times can drastically impact your medical and financial situation.
Get Help Understanding how Medicare Works Before a Natural Disaster
Do you still have questions? No need to worry! Our team of licensed Medicare agents has the answers you’re looking for. Give us a call today at the number listed above or fill out an online form.
Don’t wait before it’s too late! Mother nature is unpredictable, natural disasters can happen without any warning. Flash floods, tornados, and earthquakes can change your life and destroy your possessions in a matter of minutes.
Preparing for a potential disaster may seem like a difficult task, but it doesn’t have to be. In fact, recovering from a disaster will be less difficult for those who prepare for it. We do the leg work and clear up any confusion you may have.