The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced additional opportunities for individuals affected by the 2017 hurricanes in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands to enroll in Medicare health and drug plans and health coverage through the Federal Health Insurance Exchange. CMS is providing these special enrollment periods so that certain individuals and families who were impacted can access health coverage on the Exchange and have additional time to join, drop, or switch Medicare health and prescription drug plans. CMS announced initial special enrollment period opportunities in September, this extends these opportunities through March 31, 2018.
"CMS is committed to making it as easy as possible for individuals and families whose lives have been disrupted by these hurricanes to access the healthcare coverage they need during this difficult time," said CMS Administrator Seema Verma. "The impacts of a hurricane can last for months. These special enrollment periods provide the necessary flexibility for our beneficiaries to obtain and maintain coverage while dealing with the lingering aftermath of the storms. We will continue to monitor the circumstances in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands and will take additional action as necessary."
CMS established the following special enrollment periods to support individuals impacted by the 2017 hurricanes in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands:
- Federal Health Insurance Exchange special enrollment period: Individuals affected by the 2017 hurricanes in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands who relocated to a state that uses the Federal Health Insurance Exchange, but were unable to enroll during the 2018 Annual Open Enrollment Period or any other special enrollment period, are eligible for an exceptional circumstance special enrollment period to enroll in 2018 Exchange coverage. Individuals in this situation may request this special enrollment period through March 31, 2018. These individuals should contact the Exchange Call Center at 1-800-318-2596 to request enrollment using this special enrollment period.
- Medicare special enrollment period extension: This special enrollment period will allow individuals affected by the 2017 hurricanes in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands to enroll, dis-enroll or switch Medicare health or prescription drug plans through March 31, 2018. This special enrollment period can be used even if the beneficiary made a choice during Medicare's fall open enrollment period. The special enrollment period can also be used for those who left Puerto Rico and would like to enroll in a local Medicare Advantage or Medicare prescription drug plan that would better meet their healthcare needs. Beneficiaries who change their permanent residence, rather than temporarily relocate, and no longer reside in their plan service area, are eligible to join a Medicare Advantage or prescription drug plan offered in the new area in which they reside through the existing residence change special enrollment period. Individuals who were displaced and return to Puerto Rico or the U.S. Virgin Islands are also eligible for the residence change special enrollment period. Individuals in these situations may contact 1-800-MEDICARE to request enrollment using this special enrollment opportunity.
For more information on special enrollment periods for the Federal Health Insurance Exchange, visit: https://www.cms.gov/CCIIO/Resources/Regulations-and-Guidance/Downloads/Territories-SEP-Guidance.pdf
For more information on special enrollment period extension for Medicare, visit: https://www.cms.gov/About-CMS/Agency-Information/Emergency/Downloads/Extension-SE-Period-PR-VI-CA-Wildfire.pdf