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Medicare Special Election Period for San Diego FIRE

San Diego residents have extra time to make changes to their Medicare Plans this year.  A Special Election Period, or SEP allows you to make a change outside the normal Annual Election Period.

The reason?  The horrible fires we endured at the end of 2017.

Fallbrook Fire hot spots

California Wildfires

CMS is providing beneficiaries affected by the California wildfires an SEP that gives them an additional opportunity through March 31, 2018 to add, drop or change their Medicare health and  prescription drug plan in the event they were unable to make an election during the fall open enrollment period or another election period for which they were eligible. Individuals will be considered “affected” and eligible for this SEP if they reside, or resided at the start of the incident period, in the FEMA declared emergency or major disaster area related to the recent wildfires in California. We note that an individual can use this SEP once for each election period they missed. Thus, individuals who made an election during the annual election period (AEP) cannot use this SEP to make a second AEP election.1

Fires raged through San Diego in 2017.  My friends were scared because it wasn't just San Diego that was affected.  Counties to the north and Mexico to the south were also ablaze.  If you couldn't make time to make a change to your Medicare plan in 2017, you have a Medicare Special Election Period for San Diego FIRE.

So when my client was told that she didn't qualify for the Medicare Special Election Period for San Diego FIRE, I was outraged.

I believe that the San Diego County fire affected EVERYONE who lives here. We were all affected, if not physically, we were mentally affected.  Not only that, but according to the document that CMS released, the SEP applies to ANYONE who lives in San Diego county who was unable to make a change during the regular Annual Election Period.

“Any beneficiary who resides in, or resided in, an area for which the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has declared an emergency or major disaster (see www.fema.gov/disasters or the list below*) 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 SEP2 ”

The fires started due to our extremely dry conditions that we've been facing, and the Santa Ana winds.

10 news map of California Wildfires

We were all glued to the news for weeks looking at maps like the one above that our local station, News 10 put out.

The Red Cross distributed kits to those who lost their homes, and those kits included rakes, shovels and masks, among other things.  We heard about how our neighbors picked through their lost homes to find anything that they could use.

The news captivated us.  We watched 4100 acres burn.  The fire destroyed 157 structures. Many of our beloved animals died.  There was nothing we could do but watch and wait.

The San Diego Tribune reported that 850 horses made it to the Del Mar Fairgrounds.   But many horses died in their stalls because the fire moved so quickly.

Additionally, many people had to leave their animals at home.  The fire department provided food and water to many animals left at home.  They rescued some like the trio of kittens below.

Lilac Fire Pawsome Update

DeSousa’s department was able to get food and water to more than 260 animals in homes and properties behind evacuation lines, where owners could not reach them. Animal Services officers and volunteers also evacuated 33 animals, including three pygmy goats and an Amazon parrot.4

The trio — named Lilac, Blaze and Sparky — have been placed with a foster family.5 

“The challenges we faced in this fire was that it moved so rapidly,” he said. “It was impossible to get people in front of it to evacuate animals. That’s why animals died and people were burned. Mother Nature won in this case.”3

One of our own firefighters died fighting the California wildfires.

Cal Fire Engineer Cory Iverson, 32, of Escondido was part of a strike team made up of five engines with Cal Fire San Diego that were in an active area of the Thomas Fire in Fillmore, California when an accident occurred at about 9:30 a.m. Thursday. Iverson was killed in the accident. The Ventura County Medical Examiner's Office said Saturday Iverson died of thermal injuries and smoke inhalation.6

Photo of Bonsal Fire

I contend that we were ALL affected by this fire.  If you or your loved one was unable to make a change to your Medicare plan during the regular AEP, and you live in the boundaries of San Diego county, according to CMS you have until March 31st to make a change.  Even if you didn't evacuate, you qualify for the Medicare Special Election Period for San Diego FIRE.

But don't delay.

Many changes this time of year are tricky, for example if you want to change from an MAPD plan to a Medicare Supplement Insurance plan (Medigap), so you should try to get these done as soon as possible. Don't wait until the last minute to use your Medicare Special Election Period for San Diego FIRE.

And, if an insurance agent or broker asks you if you qualify for the Medicare Special Election Period for San Diego FIRE, you can say, “Of course the San Diego Fires affected me, didn't they affect you?”

For more information call us at 866-445-6683.

 

  1. Extension of Special Enrollment Period for Individuals Affected by Hurricanes in Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands and California Wildfires, CMS.gov, https://www.cms.gov/About-CMS/Agency-Information/Emergency/Downloads/Extension-SE-Period-PR-VI-CA-Wildfire.pdf, CMS, 12/14/2017
  2. Medicare Special Election Period For Individuals Affected By California Wildfires -, Medicare Special Election Period For Individuals Affected By California Wildfires, https://calhealthnews.com/medicare-special-election-period-for-individuals-affected-by-california-wildfires/
  3. Lilac fire 95 percent contained – The San Diego Union-Tribune, Lilac fire 95 percent contained, http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/wildfire/sd-me-lilac-fire-folo-20171212-story.html, Teri Figueroa
  4. Lilac fire 95 percent contained – The San Diego Union-Tribune, Lilac fire 95 percent contained, http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/wildfire/sd-me-lilac-fire-folo-20171212-story.html, Teri Figueroa
  5. Lilac fire 95 percent contained – The San Diego Union-Tribune, Lilac fire 95 percent contained, http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/wildfire/sd-me-lilac-fire-folo-20171212-story.html, Teri Figueroa
  6. Cause of Death Released for SD County Firefighter Killed Battling Thomas Fire – NBC 7 San Diego, Cause of Death Released for SD County Firefighter Killed Battling Thomas Fire, https://www.nbcsandiego.com/news/local/Cory-Iverson-San-Diego-County-Firefighter-Medical-Examiner-Thermal-Injuries-Smoke-Inhalation-Thomas-Fire-464639563.html
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