Government Extends Election Period to those Affected by a Weather Related Emergency or Major Disaster

December 1, 2017 Posted by

Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Maria, and Nate wreaked havoc in the majority of the south. As such, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands have an extended Special Election Period (SEP) for Medicare beneficiaries affected by the hurricane and flooding. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) says the SEP will run through Dec. 31, 2017.

Who is eligible for the extension?

If you are a Medicare beneficiary who lives in, or lived in, an area for which the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has declared eligible for individual and/or public assistance associated with a declaration of emergency or major disaster (www.fema.gov/disasters), you’re eligible.  This includes those unable to enroll in a plan during another qualifying election period. In addition, beneficiaries who do not live in the impacted areas but receive assistance from someone living in one of the affected areas also qualify for this SEP.

Below is a list of eligible areas.  For states with specific counties designated, a link is provided.

  • Alabama – all counties
  • Florida – all counties
  • Louisiana
  • Georgia
  • Mississippi
  • South Carolina – all counties
  • Texas
  • Puerto Rico – all areas
  • US Virgin Islands – all areas

What does this mean for beneficiaries?

  • Eligible beneficiaries who are unable to make a plan selection during the Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) have until Dec. 31, 2017, to enroll in a 2018 Plan. Eligible beneficiaries who wish to change their health and/or prescription drug plan, but are unable to do so during the Annual Enrollment Period (Oct. 15, 2017-Dec. 7, 2017), will now have until Dec. 31, 2017 to enroll in a 2018 plan. Enrollments taken between Dec. 8 and Dec. 31, 2017, are effective Jan. 1, 2018.
  • Eligible beneficiaries who were eligible for a different SEP, or aged into Medicare, but were unable to enroll during the allotted time period, will have their election period extended. Eligible beneficiaries who had/have a qualifying election period (e.g., aged into Medicare, are aging into Medicare or are qualified for a different SEP) but were unable to enroll in a plan during the allotted time, have until Dec. 31, 2017 to enroll. Enrollments received are effective the first day of the following month. For example, if a beneficiary aged into Medicare and had until Aug. 31, 2017, to enroll but was unable to complete the enrollment process, the beneficiary can enroll now. If the beneficiary enrolls Oct. 25, 2017, the beneficiary’s plan will be effective Nov. 1, 2017.
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