Replacing, refilling Medicare prescriptions during disasters

Pills are poured into a tray in this undated image. (File)

HOUSTON - Medicare drug plans can help you replace or refill your prescriptions, even if you cannot get to your normal pharmacy due to the flooding.  

On Medicare's website they outline the procedure for obtaining your prescription if you are in a state that has issued a warning of emergency or disaster, just like the flooding from Harvey.

Medicare.gov says that if you are unable to go to your normal in-network pharmacy to have your prescription filled, you should contact your Medicare drug plan to locate another in-network pharmacy nearby. Your Medicare drug plan is your Medicare Part D plan - the contact information is in your member materials or on your membership card.

Also, if you had to leave your home without your prescription drugs, or they were damaged or lost because of the flooding you can contact your Medicare drug plan to help you find another in-network pharmacy to replace your drugs.  If you are unable to get to an in-network pharmacy, your plan can help you get your drugs at an out-of-network pharmacy, but you may end up paying more.

Within in-network pharmacies you will be able to access your prescriptions from your previous in-network pharmacy. Also, once the flood waters recede and you are able to return home, you can easily transfer your prescription back to your regular in-network pharmacy.  If you must use an out-of-network pharmacy, you should first contact your medicare drug plan to understand their out-of-network pharmacy policies- you will most likely have to pay full price for the cost of the drugs when you pick them up and then submit a paper claim for reimbursement to Medicare. Be sure to ask you Medicare Part D provider where you should submit that claim.  Also make sure to save you receipts to include with your claim to Medicare for reimbursement.

It may be some time before everyone can return home, you can ask your Medicare drug plan for an extended-day supply, like 60 or 90 day supplies, of your drugs. You Medicare drug plan will be able to tell you if they offer that for your prescription and what the closest in-network pharmacy would be that could provide those supplies.

Contacting Your Medicare Drug Plan

If you have access to your plan's membership materials or membership card, the contact number should be listed there. If you do not have those materials, you can click here to perform a search for your plan's contact information. You can also call Medicare for help, the number is 1-800-MEDICARE or 1-800-633-2273.

Seeing Your Doctor During a Disaster

If you have Original Medicare coverage, you can see any doctor that accepts Medicare. During a disaster like Harvey- some rules change in your favor, like you may be eligible to get medical services at an airport or from a military provider.

If you have a Medicare Advantage Plan or other Medicare health plan you should contact your provider or check your plan's website to see what may have changed because of the flooding from Harvey. Your plan may allow you to see certain doctors or use certain hospitals that accept Medicare but are not necessarily in your plan's network. Most of the time you will not be required to follow your plan's typical prior authorization rules for out-of-network services. If your plan normally requires you to pay more for out-of-network or out-of-area medical care- your plan's in-network rates will be applied during the time of natural disaster. You should always save the receipts for care in case you need to apply for a refund after the fact from your plan's provider.

Getting Dialysis During a Disaster

If you have Original Medicare coverage, your End Stage Renal Dialysis (ESRD) Network can help you get your dialysis treatment or figure out where to obtain your supplies, drugs, arrange transportation to dialysis services, or emergency financial help. For Texas, your ESRD Network's number is 1-877-886-4435 or 972-503-3215. They also have more information on their website.

If you have a Medicare Advantage Plan or other Medicare Health Plan you need to contact your provider to see what temporary changes may be made in the aftermath of Harvey. Your ESRD network can help you find dialysis service facilities also, but your plan may not have an agreement with that facility.

You can find your plan's contact information on your membership materials, your plan's membership card, or you can search for your plan's contact information by clicking here. You can also call Medicare for help, the number is 1-800-MEDICARE or 1-800-633-2273.

Getting Cancer Treatments During a Disaster

If you have Original Medicare and have been displaced by the flooding from Harvey, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) can help you find an alternative cancer care provider. You can call 1-800-4CANCER (1-800-422-6237) between 9:00a.m. and 4:30p.m, Monday through Friday for assistance.

If you have a Medicare Advantage Plan or other Medicare health plan you should contact your plan to see what temporary measures are in place to care for you in the aftermath of the disaster.

Replacing Lost Medicare Cards

If you have Original Medicare and need to replace your lost or damaged Medicare card, you can click here to go to Social Security or you can call 1-800-772-1213 (TTY: 1-800-325-0778). If you choose to submit a request online for a replacement card you will be prompted to eith login or create an account, once you get past that step, select the "Replacement Documents" tab and then choose "Mail my Replacement Medicare Card." Another option would be to visit the local Social Security Office at 8989 Lakes AT 610 Drive, Houston, Texas 77054. Their hours listed for operation are Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday from 9:00a.m. through 4:00p.m. and on Wednesdays they are open from 9:00a.m. through noon. They are not open on Saturdays and Sundays.

If you have a Medicare Advantage Plan or other Medicare health plan you should contact your plan to replace lost or damaged membership cards.

You can search for your plan's contact information by clicking here. You can also call Medicare for help, the number is 1-800-MEDICARE or 1-800-633-2273. 

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