Market Overview

Empire BlueCross BlueShield Adjusts Health and Pharmacy Guidelines for Members in New York Affected by Hurricane Sandy


Empire BlueCross BlueShield today announced revised medical and pharmacy guidelines to help members who are directly impacted by Hurricane Sandy.

Members affected by the hurricane should seek medical assistance wherever it is available and have their medications refilled at any pharmacy or shipped to them at an alternative address. For medical emergencies, members should dial 911 or seek the nearest emergency room, or use urgent care centers where appropriate. A list of urgent care centers can be located at

Empire members who are not able to reach an Empire Call Center and have urgent questions regarding prior authorization, medications or referrals, should call the Empire 24/7 Nurse Line at 866-417-7107.

In addition, throughout the state of emergency, all providers caring for affected members will be considered “in-network” providers, and affected members will not be required to satisfy prior authorization, pre-certification or referral requirements during this time.

For impacted members, Empire is:

  • Suspending requirements for prior authorization and pre-certification.
  • Suspending requirements for authorization or referral from a primary care physician.
  • Allowing the affected members to see any physician necessary to provide access to care.
  • Paying all claims as in-network, regardless of whether or not the health care provider is in network.
  • Suspending early refill limits and shipping prescriptions to members at alternative addresses.
  • Suspending utilization management (UM) review of in-hospital cases.

These revisions apply to affected members living in New York until the state of emergency has been lifted.

About Empire BlueCross BlueShield:

Serving New Yorkers for over 75 years, Empire BlueCross BlueShield is the largest health insurer in New York supporting nearly six million members and more than 38,000 business, union and small employers in New York. Empire BlueCross BlueShield (Empire) is the trade name of Empire HealthChoice Assurance, Inc., and Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield HMO is the trade name of Empire HealthChoice HMO, Inc., independent licensees of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, serving residents and businesses in the 28 eastern and southeastern counties of New York State. Additional information about Empire is available at Also, follow us on Twitter at, on Facebook at, or visit our YouTube channel at

Empire BlueCross BlueShield
Gene Rodriguez, 317.488.6168

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