Insurance Commissioner Jim Long today made a special appeal to health insurance plans in North Carolina as Hurricane Isabel continues to threaten coastal residents. With thousands continuing to evacuate North Carolina’s coastal counties, Long is asking insurers to make special accommodations for the disruptions in medical care that will surely result from this disaster. “Doctor visits and prescription refills are often the last things on the minds of citizens as they evacuate their storm-threatened homes,” Long said. “Once they reach safety inland, many realize they’ve forgotten an important part of their health regimen. I hope that North Carolina’s health insurers will show lenience in these cases and not punish residents for circumstances beyond their control.”
In particular, people will need access to medical providers that may not be in their health plans’ approved networks or service areas. Long hopes insurers will show no hesitation in covering out of network visits for those residents forced to leave their home areas. In addition, evacuees may leave home without their prescription medications and will need to refill these prescriptions earlier than normally allowed by health plans. Long urges health plans to allow early prescription refills for a period of time before and after the disaster in order to accommodate those medication needs.
“We’ve seen these issues crop up after previous storms, and our health insurers have always been understanding,” Long said. “I have the utmost confidence that this year will be no different.” North Carolina residents with questions or concerns about their insurance can call the Department of Insurance Consumer Services Division at 800-546-5664 (within the state) or (919) 733-2032 (locally or outside of the state).
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