January 19, 2018

CMS Adds Special Enrollment Period for Puerto Rico, USVI Hurricane Evacuees

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced additional opportunities for individuals affected by the 2017 hurricanes in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands to enroll in Medicare health and drug plans and health coverage through the Federal Health Insurance Exchange.  CMS is providing these special enrollment periods so that certain individuals and families who were impacted can access health coverage on the Exchange and have additional time to join, drop, or switch Medicare health and prescription drug plans. The initial special enrollment period opportunities announced in September have been extended through March 31, 2018.
 
CMS established the following special enrollment periods to support individuals impacted by the 2017 hurricanes in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands:
 
Federal Health Insurance Exchange Special Enrollment Period
Individuals affected by the 2017 hurricanes in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands who relocated to a state that uses the Federal Health Insurance Exchange, but were unable to enroll during the 2018 Annual Open Enrollment Period or any other special enrollment period, are eligible for an exceptional circumstance special enrollment period to enroll in 2018 Exchange coverage. Individuals in this situation may request this special enrollment period through March 31, 2018. These individuals should contact the Exchange Call Center at 1-800-318-2596 to request enrollment using this special enrollment period.

Medicare Special Enrollment Period Extension
This special enrollment period will allow individuals affected by the 2017 hurricanes in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands to enroll, dis-enroll or switch Medicare health or prescription drug plans through March 31, 2018. This special enrollment period can be used even if the beneficiary made a choice during Medicare's fall open enrollment period. The special enrollment period can also be used for those who left Puerto Rico and would like to enroll in a local Medicare Advantage or Medicare prescription drug plan that would better meet their healthcare needs. Beneficiaries who change their permanent residence, rather than temporarily relocate, and no longer reside in their plan service area, are eligible to join a Medicare Advantage or prescription drug plan offered in the new area in which they reside through the existing residence change special enrollment period. Individuals who were displaced and return to Puerto Rico or the U.S. Virgin Islands are also eligible for the residence change special enrollment period.  Individuals in these situations may contact 1-800-MEDICARE to request enrollment using this special enrollment opportunity.

View more information on special enrollment periods for the Federal Health Insurance Exchange and the special enrollment period extension for Medicare online.

Questions? Contact Kim Streit, vice president of health care information and research, at (407) 841-6230.