The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Service (CMS) ia providing Special Enrollment Periods for people affected by Hurricanes Irma and Maria in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
Open Enrollment Periods for Medicare and the federal healthcare Marketplace are limited time periods when all eligible U.S. citizens can to enroll in these healthcare options. In 2017, Open Enrollment in the Marketplace and Medicare ended on December 15th. Medicare also has an Initial Enrollment Period lasting from three months prior to an individual’s 65th birthday to three months after that birthday.
Outside of the Open Enrollment Period, most people are unable to enroll in federal healthcare programs, except during Special Enrollment Periods. Typically, Special Enrollment Periods are a response to a change in an individual’s life, such as a marriage or the birth of a child.
In response to the healthcare challenges presented by Hurricane Maria, though, CMS is opening Special Enrollment Periods for people affected by the catastrophe. “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. “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.”
One of the Special Enrollment Periods is for families who have moved from Puerto Rico to a State and are no eligible for healthcare coverage through the Marketplace, under the Affordable Care Act. Those who were unable to gain coverage during the Open Enrollment Period will have the option to do so until March 31, 2018.
1-800-318-2596 is the contact number for people who need this Special Enrollment Period.
The second Special Enrollment Period applies to Medicare coverage. People who have left Puerto Rico for a State may enroll, dis-enroll or switch Medicare health or prescription drug plans if their new living situation requires a change of coverage. Medicare users have this option even if they made changes during the 2017 Open Enrollment period. This Special Enrollment Period is also available through March 31, 2018.
Residence change Special Enrollment Periods will be available not only for people leaving Puerto Rico for a State, but also for people returning to Puerto Rico. Since States and Puerto Rico have different Medicare plans, it may not be possible for individuals moving from a State to Puerto Rico or vice versa to keep the same plan.
1-800-MEDICARE is the contact number for Medicare users.