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How to Protect Your Family’s Health During a Natural Disaster

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Author: ARA

(ARA) - Advance preparation for severe weather is important, and it's critical to consider health information when planning ahead for a natural disaster. If you have to flee your home, you'll need contact information for your doctors, as well as information on your health coverage and medical history to maintain your health and financial security.

Plan for Your Health, a partnership between Aetna and the Financial Planning Association, is a resource to help people quickly and easily prepare their essential health benefits information. The Web site, www.PlanforYourHealth.com, features a personal health information record to fill out in advance and offers tips on handling your health benefits if you're displaced or affected by a natural disaster.  

Think about steps you can take now to plan for the possibility of displacement, an injury or a life-threatening emergency as a result of a natural disaster.

* If you have health insurance, review your policy.  Learn what coverage your plan provides when you are away from home.  

* If you don't have health insurance, get it.  Go to www.eHealthInsurance.com to get a quote for an individual insurance plan, or contact an insurance agent or broker, or check health plan Web sites.

* Prepare an evacuation box that is fireproof, lockable and can be quickly grabbed in an emergency.  

* Create a personal health information record.  A form is available on www.PlanforYourHealth.com to download and print.  

* Don't forget your pet!  If you have to evacuate, the most important thing you can do to protect your pets is to take them with you.  

If you or your loved ones are injured or become ill as the result of a disaster, take steps to get the medical care and coverage you need.  Follow these tips to manage your health benefits after a natural disaster:

* Local emergency services may be able to direct you to alternative care locations if your regular treatment settings are unavailable.

* Notify your employer in case you need to apply for time off, disability or unemployment insurance.

* Call your health insurance provider's customer service department to find out what to do to make a claim.

* Save any medical or prescription receipts to submit for Flexible Spending Account (FSA) reimbursements, if you have an account.  

* Know your rights.  If you are not receiving payment for the medical treatment you need, contact your insurance company to explain the circumstances.  

To learn more on how to prepare your family for hurricanes, earthquakes and other natural disasters, visit www.PlanforYourHealth.com.

Copyright © 2006, ARA Content

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