The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced Thursday that it would open special enrollment periods for all Medicare beneficiaries and qualifying individuals who are seeking coverage through the Federal Health Insurance Exchange, allowing those impacted by recent hurricanes to alter their plans or gain coverage.
"The lives of millions of Americans have been disrupted and impacted in some way by recent hurricanes," said CMS Administrator Seema Verma. "Setting up special enrollment periods gives Medicare beneficiaries and individuals seeking coverage on the federal exchange the opportunity to access health coverage during this difficult time and when they need it the most. We remain committed to doing all we can to help support the areas and individuals affected by these historic and catastrophic hurricanes."
The Medicare special enrollment period permits those affected by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria to enroll, disenroll, or change to another Medicare health or prescription drug plan, effective at the start of the incident period until Dec. 31.
The Federal Health Insurance Exchange special enrollment period is available to certain individuals who were affected by the hurricanes and are seeking to alter their current 2017 plan or enroll in a 2017 plan. Individuals who encountered a special enrollment period qualifying event but could not complete the application, plan selection, and enrollment process as a result of the hurricane are eligible.
These enrollment periods are in addition to the Medicare and Exchange annual enrollment periods that occur in the fall, or any additional enrollment periods that an individual may qualify for. CMS said additional actions may be executed beyond Dec. 31 as the agency continues to determine the conditions of the areas impacted by the hurricanes.
The move would give people at least an additional two weeks to handle enrollment as the Trump administration had shortened the enrollment period in half to six weeks, running from Nov. 1 to Dec. 15.