Hey Medicare Nation!
How Do I get treatment & prescriptions during a weather emergency?
Hurricane Dorian is moving up the East Coast of the U.S., and MILLIONS of people have evacuated the coastlines, to seek safety.
What happens if you get sick or you need to fill prescriptions while you’re away from home during a weather emergency?
What happens if you need to move into a Skilled Nursing Facility, but you haven’t fulfilled the “3 Day Prior Hospitalizaton” Rule….due to the weather emergency?
Let’s take a look at these questions for you.
After President Trump Declared Emergencies in Puerto Rico, Florida, Georgia & South Carolina….. Health & Human Services Secretary ….. Alex Azar….Declared Public Health Emergencies in those States. Secretary Azar also declared a “Blanket Waiver” for Hurricane Dorian.
What that means…… is some restrictions under Medicare are more “Flexible” during the Declaration.
You evacuated your home in Savannah Georgia, to go stay with your relatives in Michigan. Prior to evacuating your home, you were receiving home health care for physical therapy…due to a sprained ankle.
If you are on Original Medicare, you can contact “Any” home health agency that accepts Medicare to re-start your physical therapy at your relative’s home. They should be able to contact Medicare to get copies of the orders you had for the Physical Therapy.
If you’re on a Medicare Advantage Plan, you will need to contact your Plan carrier…… advise them you evacuated from a Public Health Emergency area and that you need to “Resume” physical therapy at home ASAP. The plan should contact a home health care vendor in the area you’re temporarily staying in, to resume your physical therapy.
If you have a Medicare Specialist, call them! You WILL need their help in expediting the process. Remember…… MILLIONS of people have evacuated coastal areas! Don’t Delay!!! If you need to use your Medicare benefits…. CALL as soon as possible.
For Prescription Medications……let’s say in the stress of having to “evacuate,” you forgot all your prescriptions at home.
under a Medicare Advantage Plan, call your carrier & tell them what happened. You should be able to get a “Refill” under the “Emergency Waiver,” for most prescriptions. If you need an Extension for 60 – 90 days for your prescription, due to being out of the area, call your plan and ask them if they “offer” extended day prescriptions.
If you’re on an “opioid” prescription……… call your plan & advise them of your situation. Hopefully, you can get a refill…. for at least a day…. or two…… under the waiver, until you can be seen by a doctor in the area you’re temporarily staying at.
Your carrier will tell you which Pharmacy is “IN” network…. Where you’re staying. If there is NO pharmacy “In” Network where you’re staying, ask the carrier if they will “reimburse” you for the cost of the prescriptions.
You will need a receipt with the Pharmacy name, prescription name, and the price you paid for the prescription on the receipt to submit to your Medicare Advantage Carrier for reimbursement.
If you had Durable Medical Equipment …… Orthotics, Prosthetics, or Oxygen Supplies for example….. that was lost, destroyed, “irreparably damaged” ….. or otherwise rendered unusable…… you should be able to replace it from a vendor in the area you’re staying….. with the “flexibility” to WAIVE the replacement requirements that are normally in place.
If you are on a Medicare Advantage Plan, contact your carrier for assistance in getting a replacement…. And advise them the “Blanket Waiver” is in place.
They will assist you in finding a local vendor to “Replace” your equipment.
For those of you needing to stay at a “Skilled Nursing Facility,”Under “Normal” Circumstances…… if you or a loved one needed to enter a “Skilled Nursing Facility,” you would be required to have a “ 3 Day Prior Hospitalization” … prior to entering the Skilled Nursing Facility.
Under the “Blanket Waiver,” the 3 Day prior hospitalization is “waived,” so that you can enter the Skilled Nursing Facility without further delay.
This rule would be in effect “temporarily,” for those who are …… “ evacuated, transferred, or otherwise…. “dislocated” as a result of the emergency.
So….. if you “evacuated” your home in Puerto Rico, Florida, Georgia or South Carolina, due to Hurricane Dorian….. and let’s say you’re temporarily staying with relatives in Pennsylvania………and you need to enter a Skilled Nursing Facility……you would be able to enter the facility without the 3 day prior hospitalization.
If you are on a Medicare Advantage Plan, you must contact your carrier to assist you in determining which “Skilled Nursing Facilities” has room for you to be admitted into.
These are examples of how Medicare “requirements” are more flexible during a Public Health Emergency WITH a “Blanket Waiver.”
How long does the Blanket Waiver Last? Until Secretary AZAR signs an order stating the Public Health Emergency is over.
NOW….. let’s take a look at how FEMA affects enrollment into Medicare.
FEMA… which stands for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, also declared emergencies in Puerto Rico, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina AND the Virgin Islands (which are St. Croix, St. John, St. Thomas AND Water Island) ….., which creates a “Special Election Period” for Medicare Beneficiaries, who needed to enroll in a Medicare Plan during that time, but were unable to ….. due to the effects of Hurricane Dorian.
This means if you needed to enroll in Medicare, or into a Medicare Advantage Plan for September 1st…….. you will be given a Special Election Period to do so….
Under the Emergency “Weather Event.”
So….if you need to enroll into a Medicare Advantage Plan…..OR…. a Stand-Alone Prescription Drug Plan…. you can do so, most likely through the end of October…… or even November in South Carolina & Georgia, under the FEMA Emergency.
You can call Medicare at 800 – 633 – 4227 or your Medicare Specialist for more information.
If you feel you are overly “stressed” with all the information on TV & social media, about Hurricane Dorian…… #1 ….. STOP watching the news continuously! Listen to some music…. Read a book….. play a board game. Go out for a walk.
Continuously Watching the news about the weather is the worst thing you could do!
If you need to speak with someone, you can call the “Disaster Distress Helpline.”
Call 800 – 985 - 5990 to connect with a trained counselor, who can assist you with your distress.
You can even “TEXT” ….. TALKWITHUS type the letters all together and send it to…. 66746.
You can also go online to get more Public Health & Safety info by going to
Finally….. if you would like to help those affected by Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas….OR ….any of the other impacted States…..
Call your local TV Station or go onto their websites to find information on how to volunteer or donate supplies.
If you’d like to “donate” money to a cause…..
For Animals. Go to the Humane Society of the United States website…
The Humane Society is evacuating animals form Animal Shelters across Florida and the other States. They have already helped transport almost 100 animals here in Florida, that they will place in “safe shelters,” with the hope of being put up for adoption.
If you’d like to contribute to a Humanitarian Charity….. or one that is specifically helping those in the Bahamas…… go to the Charity Navigator website & they have a list of highly ranked charities that are providing relief.
To donate to one of these funds.
That’s all for this special show and I wish everyone out there, in the path of Dorian…… that you & your loved ones are safe.
Till next time....
Have a Safe & Peaceful week!