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Getting Care in Emergencies: What You Should Know

At Trusted Senior Specialists, we believe in sharing knowledge that enhances your life. We want to be a trusted resource for all your Medicare concerns. Given the circumstances surrounding COVID-19, it’s important to know how Medicare responds in times of crisis. Here’s what you should know about getting care in disasters or emergencies. 

The Rules May Change

First, the rules for receiving medical care may temporarily change when one of the following has occurred:

  • The President has proclaimed it as an emergency or disaster. To see if it impacts your area, go to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) website, or call 1-800-621-FEMA (1-800-621-3362).  
  • A governor has proclaimed it as an emergency or disaster. To see if it impacts your area, visit your state government’s official website. 
  • The Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) has proclaimed a public health emergency. You can go to the HHS Public Health Emergency website, or call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) to learn if it affects your area.

Rules for the following circumstances will depend on what type of Medicare plan you have.  

Seeing Your Physician in a Disaster or Emergency 

You can see any physician who accepts Medicare if you have Parts A and B. Some rules may adjust in the event of an emergency in certain situations. For instance, you might get covered services at an airport — from a military provider.  

If you have a Medicare Advantage (MA) plan or other Medicare plan, your program could make brief rule changes when services get interrupted during an emergency or disaster. View your plan’s website, or contact your plan to see:

  • If your program will let you visit certain doctors or hospitals outside of the network and your health care needs are not an emergency. 
  • If your plan will administer the in-network rate during the disaster or emergency period.
  • If there are other rule changes.
  • When the emergency or disaster will be over.   

Paying Your Premium in a Disaster or Emergency

If you’re enrolled in a MA plan, Medicare Part D drug plan, or another Medicare plan, you must still pay your premium (on time) in an emergency or disaster. Otherwise, your plan may drop you.   

However, if your plan disenrolled you, you might ask for a re-evaluation and get back your coverage.

To make sure your premiums are paid right on schedule, you can pay with electronic funds that transfer through your bank or ask the plan to deduct it from your Social Security check.    

Receiving Cancer Treatments in a Disaster or Emergency 

If you have Original Medicare, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) can help you locate other cancer care providers. You can call 1 (800) 422-6237 for more information. 

If you have a MA plan or other Medicare health plan, contact them to see if the rules change (temporarily) in an emergency or disaster. 

Getting Dialysis in a Disaster or Emergency 

Your end-stage renal disease (ESRD) network can help you locate facilities that provide dialysis services where you’re temporarily staying. However, if you have a MA plan or other Medicare (health) plan, it’s best to ask them first. 

Replacing Lost or Damaged Equipment or Supplies

If Original Medicare already paid for a wheelchair, walker, or diabetic supplies (known as durable medical equipment or DME), and it gets lost or damaged because of an emergency or disaster, Medicare will handle the repair or replacement costs — in some cases.

In general, Medicare will also pay for rental items, such as wheelchairs, while your equipment is being fixed.  

If you have a MA or other Medicare health plan, contact them to see how they replace DME or supplies lost or damaged in an emergency or disaster. 

For all your Medicare-related questions, reach out to an agent at Trusted Senior Specialists. You can also call our office at (844) 325-8710.