Hurricane victims get longer federal exchange, Medicare enrollment periods

Individuals affected by hurricanes in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands now have more time to sign up for health insurance through Medicare and the federal exchange.

On Wednesday, CMS extended a special enrollment period enacted in September 2017 to allow hurricane victims more time to gain coverage through the federal exchange and join, drop or switch Medicare health and prescription drug plans. The new enrollment deadline is March 31 for both types of coverage.

"The impacts of a hurricane can last for months," CMS Administrator Seema Verma said. "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."

Individuals eligible for the extension on the federal exchange are people who relocated to a state using the federal health insurance exchange but were unable to enroll during the 2018 open enrollment period ended Dec. 15, or any other special enrollment period. Medicare beneficiaries eligible for the extended deadline to enroll, dis-enroll or switch plans are people who left Puerto Rico and would like to enroll in a local Medicare Advantage or Medicare prescription drug plan; beneficiaries who changed their permanent residence; and those who were displaced and returned to Puerto Rico or the U.S. Virgin Islands. 

For more information on the revised deadline, click here.

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