Disaster Responses: More Than Just Hurricanes

Published 06/25/2020

When a severe weather event happens (such as a hurricane, typhoon, earthquake or wildfire), the last thing you or your healthcare provider are thinking about is Medicare. Concerns are about staying alive and what kind of home and property damage you will have. Your situation may be the most stressful event in your life. When a disaster like the California wildfires or Hurricane Dorian hit, your survival is most important.

Medicare understands this.

For some disasters, like a hurricane or wildfires, the Secretary of Health and Human Services may declare a Public Health Emergency (PHE), which provides waivers for 90 days. In our most recent weather-related disaster event, Hurricane Dorian, Medicare made accommodations in the states of Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. During the PHE in those states, providers have  had an extension on the time allowed to enroll providers or request appeals.

As a patient, you may wonder if Medicare will pay if you see another doctor outside of the disaster area or another sate to receive the care you need. Medicare/Railroad Medicare beneficiaries can receive services anywhere in the United States. The services must be medically necessary and a covered Medicare benefit.

Another concern when a disaster hits is what happens if you lose your Medicare card. If you’ve lost your card (and can’t remember the number) but need to see a doctor or other healthcare provider in an effected area before you receive a replacement card, Medicare advises providers to hold their claims until you receive your new card. It is your responsibility to inform the provider of your new Medicare number. If you need emergency care and do not have your Medicare card or know the number, providers should try to obtain your Medicare number from you or your family. If that fails to be successful, your provider can call Railroad Medicare to request the Medicare number. This should be a rare incidence.

If you have questions or need to obtain a replacement Medicare card, you can call our Beneficiary Customer Service Center at 800-833-4455, Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. until 7 p.m. ET to order a new one. For the hearing impaired, call TTY/TDD at 877-566-3572. You may also call the Railroad Retirement Board at 877-772-5772.

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