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Medicare beneficiaries: If you’ve been impacted by Hurricane Sandy and can’t meet the Dec. 7 annual open enrollment period deadline, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is offering other options.

The best scenario is to select the Medicare plan you want for 2013 in time to ensure your health and prescription drug coverage kicks in by Jan. 1, 2013. But what if you can’t?

  1. If you can’t select a plan by Dec. 7  you can still enroll in health and drug prescription coverage. Call 1-800-MEDICARE or 1-800-633-4227. (TTY users dial 1-877-486-2048.) It’s manned 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Telephone reps can help you review the plans and make a selection even after the deadline.
  2. If you enroll in a plan after Dec. 7 (by calling 1-800-MEDICARE), your coverage will typically start the first of the month after you make the enrollment request. (For example, call before Dec. 31 and coverage begins Jan. 1, 2013.) Important to know, though: Medicare will review each case individually.
  3. You don’t have to show proof that you’ve been impacted by Hurricane Sandy to have more time. You might live elsewhere but help with health care decisions for a family member, relative or friend who was in the hurricane’s wake. If you’ve already submitted an enrollment request to Medicare, the plan should contact you via mail or phone, to let you know you are enrolled. If they haven’t, you’ll need to call the plan.
  4. Medicare has stated that if your in-network pharmacy is out of your prescribed medicine, you can access out-of-network pharmacies with no penalties.

Any questions? Call 1-800-MEDICARE. They also have a page set up just for Medicare beneficiaries impacted by Hurricane Sandy.

Follow Sally Abrahms at www.sallyabrahms.com or on Twitter.

Open Enrollment Photo Courtesy of MedicareMall via Creative Commons

Hurricane Sandy Photo: Mike Stobe/Getty Images

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