Additional counties in California will have a Special Election Period (SEP) available for Medicare beneficiaries affected by the California wildfires. *FEMA declared an emergency or major disaster for the following counties:
New counties added as of Dec. 8, 2017*:
Counties previously issued with an SEP:
Special Election Period Overview
The wildfires in California have caused and continue to cause disruption. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has extended a SEP to Medicare beneficiaries affected by the fires. The SEP runs from the start of the incident through Dec. 31, 2017.
Who is eligible?
Any beneficiary who resides in, or resided in, an area for which the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) declared an emergency or major disaster (see www.fema.gov/disasters) is eligible for the SEP, if the beneficiary was unable to enroll in a plan during another qualifying election period. In addition, beneficiaries who do not live in the impacted areas but receive assistance from someone living in one of the affected areas also qualify for this SEP.
What does this mean for Medicare beneficiaries?
Eligible beneficiaries who were unable to make a plan selection during the Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) have until Dec. 31, 2017, to enroll in a 2018 plan. Eligible beneficiaries who wish to change their health and/or prescription drug plan, but were unable to do so during the Annual Enrollment Period (Oct. 15, 2017-Dec. 7, 2017), will now have until Dec. 31, 2017, to enroll in a 2018 plan. Enrollments taken between Dec. 8 and Dec. 31, 2017, are effective Jan. 1, 2018.
Eligible beneficiaries who were eligible for a different SEP, or aged into Medicare, but were unable to enroll during the allotted time period, will have their election period extended. Eligible beneficiaries who had/have a qualifying election period (e.g., aged into Medicare, are aging into Medicare or are qualified for a different SEP) but were unable to enroll in a plan during the allotted time, have until Dec. 31, 2017, to enroll. Enrollments received are effective the first day of the following month. For example, if a beneficiary aged into Medicare and had until Aug. 31, 2017, to enroll but was unable to complete the enrollment process, the beneficiary can enroll now. If the beneficiary enrolls Oct. 28, 2017, the beneficiary’s plan will be effective Nov. 1, 2017.
What is needed as proof the beneficiary was affected by an affected area?
If the beneficiary is unable to provide proof that they reside in an affected area, the beneficiary just needs to verbally attest that they lived/live in an area impacted by the wildfires.