Last night (October 6, 2016) a state of emergency was declared statewide in Florida. Hurricane Matthew had strengthened to Category 4, was approaching the Southeastern United States and was projected to hit the Atlantic coast of the Florida as well as the rest of the southeast. This made me curious about the options for filling prescriptions; what can people do to prepare when they require life-supporting medications?
I heard the declaration while I was driving to a meeting. The announcer mentioned the usual things about possible evacuations and preparedness, then said because of a state of emergency had been declared, everyone could refill their prescriptions regardless of the time limits or the last time they were refilled.
I checked with my local pharmacist and he confirmed that prescriptions could be refilled even if not enough time had passed since the last time they were filled.
The idea is that an emergency may last a long time, and it may not be possible to get to the pharmacist for refills or it may not be possible to get insurance company approval because of downed communication lines or other problems. Since many times, as in the case of a diabetic, medications are a matter of life-and-death, it is vital that they be able to be refilled.
Thus, you can get up to a 30-day supply from the pharmacist during the state of emergency of within 30 days after it is over. The pharmacist will enter a special code into their computer to override any time limits.
As soon as you are aware that a state of emergency has been declared, you should go to the pharmacist and refill any vital prescriptions.
These rules vary from state to state, and medicare has it’s own procedures so you should research your rights well before any disaster.
Filling Prescription Refills
Below is the actual text of the law, as defined on the Florida Disaster website.
252.358 Emergency-preparedness prescription medication refills. – All health insurers, managed care organization, and other entities that are licensed by the Office of Insurance Regulation and provide prescription medication coverage as part of a policy or contract shall waive time restrictions on prescription medication refills, which include suspension of electronic “refill too soon” edits to pharmacies, to enable insureds or subscribers to refill prescriptions in advance, if there are authorized refills remaining, and shall authorize payment to pharmacies for at least a 30-day supply of any prescription medication, regardless of the date upon which the prescription had most recently been filled by a pharmacist, when the following conditions occur
- The person seeking the prescription medication refill resides in a county that:
- Is under a hurricane warning issued by the National Weather Service;
- Is declared to be under a state of emergency in an executive order issued by the Governor; or
- Has activated its emergency operations center and its emergency management plan.
- The prescription medication refill is requested within 30 days after the origination date of the conditions stated in this section or until such conditions are terminated by the issuing authority or no longer exist. The time period for the waiver of prescription medication refills may be extended in 15- or 30-day increments by emergency orders issued by the Office of Insurance Regulation.
This section does not excuse or exempt an insured or subscriber from compliance with all other terms of the policy or contract providing prescription medication coverage. This section takes effect July 1, 2006.