The recent wildfires in Orange county were tragic. But as the saying goes, “Every dark cloud has a silver lining.”
In this case, for those that didn’t change their current Medicare Advantage plan or Medicare Prescription Drug plan during the annual open enrollment window (October 15th -December 7th), they now have an opportunity to do so up until March 31st.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced a special enrollment period (SEP) for those living in counties where FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) has declared a weather-related state of emergency or major disaster such as the recent fires. This special enrollment period ends on March 31st, 2018.
In addition, the SEP is available to those individuals who don’t live in the affected areas but rely on friends or family members who live in the affected areas for making their healthcare decisions. You don’t need to live in the specific area where the fires happened, you just need to live in one for the following Southern CA counties: Orange, Los Angeles, Riverside and San Diego. There are other counties in Northern and Central CA as well.
This SEP (special enrollment period) is only available for Medicare beneficiaries who DID NOT enroll in a 2018 MAPD or PDP plan during the regular Annual Election Period (AEP). Individuals who made an election during the AEP cannot use this SEP to make a second AEP election. Residents have until March 31, 2018 to make changes to their Medicare health and prescription drug plans.
I’ve helped many people already benefit for this unexpected opportunity, if you have any questions about if you qualify, please don’t hesitate to call.