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Hurricane Irma: Emergency Prescription Refills In Florida

by Doug Hirsch on September 6, 2017 at 12:22 pm

Update: as of Friday, September 8, hurricane warnings and watches have been extended up Florida’s east and west coasts, with the storm expected to impact the Florida Keys starting early Sunday morning. Stay safe!

As Hurricane Irma heads towards Florida, it’s important to know that Florida passed a state law in 2006 that allows for early prescription refills in any county that is under a hurricane warning.

What does this law do?

Most insurance policies will not pay for prescription fills until a few days before your prior prescription is supposed to run out. For example, if you have a 30-day prescription and you filled it on March 1, most insurance policies will not let you refill that prescription until close to the end of March—perhaps the March 26th or 27th in our example. If you attempt to fill your prescription prior to that time, your insurance company will not cover it and you’ll be forced to pay a much higher price.

This Florida law mandates that insurance companies need to allow an early 30-day fill in any county where a hurricane warning has been declared. The goal of the law is to ensure that people do not run out of important prescriptions during and after a hurricane impacts the area.

How do I get an early refill?

If you have important meds and you have less than a 2 week supply, now’s the time to act. Call your local pharmacy and check with them to ensure that you’ll be able to fill your prescription. Keep in mind that you’ll need to have available refills on that prescription, and also note that controlled substances may have additional restrictions.

Other ways you can fill a prescription early

If a hurricane warning hasn’t yet been declared or if you’re having issues with your insurance at the pharmacy, you may want to consider using a GoodRx discount instead.

If your insurance won’t cover a prescription, you will be paying a MUCH higher price—often 10 times what your co-pay would be. GoodRx coupons can provide discounted prices that may be similar to your co-pay. With GoodRx there are no early refill restrictions. Please note that most pharmacies have their own restrictions regarding quantities and refills – you’ll want to check with the store.

My pharmacist hasn’t heard about this law—tell me more

Here’s the full text of the law, as well as a link to the official Florida legislature website where it is posted. We hope this helps.

Emergency-preparedness prescription medication refills.—All health insurers, managed care organizations, 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:

(1) The person seeking the prescription medication refill resides in a county that:
(a) Is under a hurricane warning issued by the National Weather Service;
(b) Is declared to be under a state of emergency in an executive order issued by the Governor; or
(c) Has activated its emergency operations center and its emergency management plan.

(2) 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.

Florida Legislature website link

Stay safe!

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