Puerto Ricans have been given an extra 15 days by the federal government to sign themselves up for the health coverage as stated by the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The island has been devastated by hurricanes. The latter has wrecked critical infrastructure of the island. For the ordinary Puerto Rican, the problems won't be solved by a simple extension of the timing. The majority of Puerto Ricans ask multiple questions on whether the coverage they enjoyed due to Medicare or Medicaid will move with them to new locations. For those who want private coverage, they will find navigating the ACA insurance marketplace a new experience as federal health law did not create such marketplaces in this American territory.
For most Puerto Ricans, who are effectively climate refugees, coming to the mainland is easy, but getting proper coverage means encountering a lot of red tape. The enormity of this problem is amplified by the fact that almost three-quarters of all Medicare beneficiaries are enrolled in the private Advantage plans. A number of Puerto Ricans are concerned whether these plans will cover them in the mainland United States. The list of complications includes another fact that the Medicaid program earmarked for the Puerto Rican low-income residents cover almost 50 percent of the residents of the island. This rate is much higher compared to any other state. It remains to be seen whether the Puerto Ricans who move to the United States will be eligible to qualify as they may not satisfy more stringent eligibility standards.
Insurance enrollment on marketplaces in health law ends for a vast majority on December 15. Residents of storm-hit areas like Georgia, Texas, and Florida are permitted to sign up until December 31. However, people who get covered under this scheme must also suffer the delay of their coverage until the first day of February.
Members of the Florida Congress are also acquainted with the matter. They expressed concern that the arrival of Puerto Ricans have made matters confusing for insurance companies. Congress members communicated with Seema Verma, Director, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services; they suggested that a fact sheet be put out by the federal officials so that clarity can come back and confusions related to the issue be alleviated. They do not want any problems associated with the Puerto Ricans who have moved to the mainland United States.