Wildfire Survivors Reminded of Medicare 'Open Season'

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Release date: 
November 18, 2011
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AUSTIN, Texas -- Texas wildfire survivors who are senior citizens or have disabilities are reminded that “open season” is under way through Dec. 7 to make changes to their Medicare insurance policies. During the open enrollment period they can either enroll in Medicare or switch plans.

“With everything survivors may be going through to recover from the wildfires, addressing policy changes might not be the first thing on their minds,” says Federal Coordinating Officer Kevin L. Hannes. “Yet taking the time to ensure they have a policy that is right for them can make all the difference.”

Survivors are encouraged to review their Medicare, Medicare Part D and Medicare Advantage plan options for 2012 even if they are satisfied with their current plan.  With the Affordable Care Act, Medicare recipients may find other program options that provide benefits at a lower price.  Being aware of these changes can help seniors make informed decisions regarding their benefits.

Assistance may be available to wildfire survivors through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). In addition to temporary housing and grants for home repairs, FEMA offers Other Needs Assistance to help eligible survivors pay for such things as disaster-related medical and dental costs not covered by insurance. Certain conditions apply but seniors or people with disabilities are encouraged to register with FEMA to learn whether they may be eligible for assistance.

There are a few questions to ask when evaluating prescription drug and Medicare Advantage plans:

  • What is the monthly premium?
  • Does the plan continue to cover necessary drugs?
  • What pharmacies are covered under the plan?
  • What is the cost share for doctor visits?
  • Is prescription drug coverage included?

If survivors choose not to change their existing plan, they will remain on the current plan unless their Medicare Advantage or drug plan is terminating its Medicare contract. For additional information on Medicare prescription drug and health plan coverage visit www.medicare.gov/open-enrollment/index.html.

Texas homeowners, renters, and business owners can register online or check on the status of an earlier registration at www.disasterassistance.gov, via web-enabled phone at m.fema.gov, or by telephone via FEMA’s toll-free numbers: 1-800-621-3362 or TTY 1-800-462-7585. Those who use 711-Relay or Video Relay Services can call 1-800-621-3362. Assistants are available by phone from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. seven days a week.

Follow FEMA tweets about the Texas disaster at www.twitter.com/femaregion6. Other online resources are blog.fema.gov, www.facebook.com/fema and www.youtube.com/fema.

FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.

Last Updated: 
July 16, 2012 - 18:46
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