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Medicare Special Enrollments – Weather Emergencies and Major Disasters

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Tornados, hurricanes, flooding, landslides, wildfires, earthquakes, and tropical storms can happen at any given time. If these weather-related emergencies happen during your Medicare Open Enrollment Period, know that there are special enrollment opportunities given to those effected by these weather emergencies and/or major disasters.

What if a Weather Emergency Happens During Your Medicare Enrollment?

For anyone who experiences a weather-related emergency and/or major disaster, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) will establish special enrollment opportunities for those affected. Individuals who missed their prior enrollment (due to emergency) will have the chance to enroll, un-enroll, or switch to a different plan. This opportunity is only available to areas in which the Federal Emergency Management (FEMA) has declared an emergency or major disaster.

When Does the Special Enrollment Period for Weather Emergencies Start?

The Special Enrollment Period after a weather emergency and/or major disaster is available at the start of the incident period and runs all the way until the end of the year. Medicare Enrollments are effective the first of the month after your enrollment request has been received; this includes request received in December after the end of the Fall Open Enrollment Period.

Who Qualifies for This Specific Special Enrollment?

This Special Enrollment opportunity (enroll, un-enroll or switch plans) applies to all individuals who reside/resided in the area where the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) declared an emergency or disaster. The Special Enrollment Period is also available for those who do not live in the affected areas, but rely on help (making healthcare decisions) from friends and family who live in the affected areas.

What Can Be Considered as a Weather Emergency/Disaster?

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  • Earthquake
  • Fire
  • Drought
  • Chemical Emergency
  • Flood
  • Poisoning
  • Heat Wave
  • Hurricane
  • Landslide
  • Terrorism
  • Power Outage
  • Thunderstorm
  • Tornado
  • Tsunami
  • Volcano
  • Wildfire
  • Snow storm

Will You Have to Show Proof That You Live in an Affected Area?

No, you should not have to prove that you live in an affected area. However, some plans pay ask for proof of your residency (driver’s license, bills). If you have it, you should provide it to your plan. If your documents were all destroyed or you no longer have access to them, you can show proof that your residency was placed under emergency by Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

  • To learn more about the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), click here.
  • To learn more about the Medicare Special Enrollment Period, click here.
  • To learn more about the different types of emergencies and disasters, click here.