Hurricane Health Effects
Extreme Storms Can Have Long-Term Effects
Whether you’ve survived the most recent hurricane or you’re preparing for the next possible storm (Florida’s hurricane season runs through November 30), the environmental stressors caused by hurricanes and extreme storms mean it’s more important than ever to take charge of your health.
Hurricane Ian was a powerful category 4 storm when wind and water cut a path across Southwest Florida. If history is any indicator, the storm will take a toll on public health long after the debris is cleared. It’s been shown that life-threatening conditions and disease are greater in the weeks and months following a hurricane. And hurricanes are shown to cause and exacerbate multiple diseases. While most adverse health impacts peak within six months following hurricanes, chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and mental health issues have been shown to continue for years after a hurricane's impact.
“The devastation that severe hurricanes like Ian impose on communities transcends the material losses and deeply affects our physical health and mental well-being for months and even years to come,” says Millennium Physician Group Chief Medical Officer Alejandro Perez-Trepichio.
One recent study concluded the increasing frequency and intensity of hurricanes in recent years pose an unprecedented threat to the public health of communities in affected areas. The days, weeks, and months following an extreme storm can be confusing and overwhelming for survivors. For healthcare workers, providers, and care teams, it means fielding a lot of difficult questions while dealing with technical and connectivity issues as well as uncertain domestic situations.
“There are immediate adverse consequences in our pre-existing medical conditions like sudden worsening of high blood pressure and diabetes and behavioral conditions like depression or anxiety, to name a few,” explains Dr. Perez-Trepichio. “Severe life disruptions like housing and financial difficulties after major catastrophes are proven to impact our health in the short and long-term, so please don’t ignore it and seek help.”
Hurricanes and Healthcare
Routine healthcare is interrupted, survivors are dealing with waterborne illnesses, mold from water damage, injuries from clean-up efforts, and elevated levels of stress and anxiety as mental health suffers while survivors deal with previously unimaginable losses.
Many people in the hurricane-affected areas may not even realize Medicare’s Open Enrollment (also called Annual Enrollment) began October 15 and runs until December 7. For patients eligible for Medicare benefits, Open Enrollment is the only time of year you can make changes to your health and drug plans for the following year (with few exceptions). Decisions you make today about your healthcare and coverage can change the rest of your life.
“We know inadequate healthcare coverage results in postponement of appropriate healthcare needs,” admits Dr. Perez-Trepichio. “This can delay diagnosis and worsen chronic health conditions, leading to poorer health outcomes and higher overall healthcare spending.”
In fact, studies show those who are uninsured or underinsured are less likely to take advantage of preventive services and more likely to have poorer health outcomes.
Millennium Is Here for You During This Important Time
We realize you may have other things on your mind, but your health is a priority. And staying healthy starts with the right healthcare coverage, which is why we want to help you with this year’s Medicare Open Enrollment.
Now through December 7, is the time to shop around and find the best plan for your changing health needs. Whether you’re suffering health effects from the storm, have moved homes, or are undergoing other social or domestic adjustments, it’s important to seize the opportunity and find the health coverage that will best support you in 2023 and beyond. There are many $0 monthly premium plans that include prescription drug coverage, along with other value-added benefits not covered by Original Medicare, such as dental, vision, and hearing.
At Millennium, we partner with Medicare plans like Aetna, CarePlus, Florida Blue, Freedom/Anthem, Humana, Optimum, WellCare, and Wellmed, along with traditional Medicare. With all these options, we know Open Enrollment can be confusing. To make it easier to find the best plan for your needs, we’re working closely with our trusted partners at HealthShare360. Their Medicare Advisors can help you understand your options.
Throughout Open Enrollment, HealthShare360 will host in-person Medicare meetings at designated Millennium locations. Medicare Advisors will discuss plans accepted by Millennium and what you can expect throughout Open Enrollment. Get help comparing and selecting the right Medicare plan to match your changing needs.
Register for these meetings at FLMedicare.com, call HealthShare360 at 844.878.5012 (TTY 711) Mon – Fri 8 am - 6 pm, Sat – Sun 10 am - 2 pm, or stop by one of our offices for more information.
Millennium and our partners are here to help you get the most out of healthcare and get the most out of Medicare.