Natural disasters can happen at any time. That’s why it’s very important for Medicare beneficiaries to understand how their benefits could be affected when a natural disaster strikes.
It may be difficult for you to access a health care provider who accepts Medicare during a disaster. If this is the case, you may be able to receive covered care from a military physician at an airport.
Medicare Advantage (Medicare Part C) plans and Medicare Part D prescription drug plans may sometimes allow members to seek care outside of their plan network and receive coverage at the in-network rate in the aftermath of a natural disaster.
You should call your plan carrier directly to inquire about temporary rule changes regarding coverage during a natural disaster.
If your covered durable medical equipment (DME) like a wheelchair or diabetic supplies are lost or damaged during a natural disaster, Medicare will typically cover the cost of a replacement or the cost of a rental replacement while your equipment is being repaired.
If you have a Medicare Advantage plan that covers your durable medical equipment, you should check with your plan carrier to find out how to get replacement equipment or a repair for your equipment.
If your usual pharmacy is unable to fill your prescription following a disaster, if you had to evacuate your home without your medications or if your medications were lost or damaged from the disaster, your Medicare Part D or Medicare Advantage plan may be able to help you fill your prescription at another nearby pharmacy.
Contact your plan directly for help. You may have to pay the full out-of-network cost upfront and then obtain a refund from your plan.
Many plans will also offer an extended supply of medication (60 or 90 days) in case you will not be able to return home for an extended period of time.
Medicare does not typically change its rules regarding the timely payment of premiums, so you will still likely be expected to make your payments on time, even during a natural disaster.
However, a reconsideration may be made under extraordinary circumstances.
If your Medicare card is lost or damaged in a disaster, you may request a new one by contacting Social Security at 1-800-772-1213, or you can order a replacement card online.
Special enrollment periods are sometimes granted to eligible Medicare beneficiaries who have been adversely affected by a natural disaster.
A licensed insurance agent can help you determine if you’re eligible for a special enrollment period due to a natural disaster. A licensed agent can also help you compare costs, coverage and other details of Medicare plans that are available where you live.
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