Market Overview

Health Doesn't Stop When a Hurricane Starts


AmeriHealth Caritas shares tips for staying safe and maintaining
health following a hurricane

According to the National
Weather Service
, the North Atlantic hurricane season is approaching
its peak.1 Hurricanes and other natural disasters don't
discriminate in their victims. However, poor and marginalized populations
usually suffer disproportionately from flooding and other effects of
natural disasters
because they tend to have lesser-quality shelter
and other pre-existing challenges, according to the Brookings Institute.2

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Infographic courtesy of AmeriHealth Caritas

Infographic courtesy of AmeriHealth Caritas

"People with few and modest resources are more likely to have a variety
of chronic health problems, and these problems are more likely to become
acute during a natural disaster," said Dr. Andrea Gelzer, senior vice
president of medical affairs for AmeriHealth
, a national leader in Medicaid managed care and other health
care solutions for those in need. "Supplies of safe food, water, and
medication can be compromised. And you may be cut off from doctors and
other support systems that help you manage your health."

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends taking the
following steps to protect one's health during and after a hurricane:3

Food and flood waters don't mix

Avoid any food that may have come into contact with flood water or was
packed in a container that was water-damaged. If you lose electrical
power, the FDA recommends keeping refrigerator and freezer doors closed
as much as possible to preserve the food in there for as long as

Boil and clean water, otherwise don't drink it

If your tap water isn't safe for drinking, and you can't obtain bottled
water, boil it for one minute, then let it cool for one minute before
drinking and storing it in clean, closed containers. If your water looks
cloudy, you can filter it through a clean cloth or let it settle and
skim off the top, clear portion.

Those who obtain tap water from a well on their property (as opposed to
a municipal water supply) should have their water tested and disinfected
after flood waters recede.

If the medication isn't dry, kiss it goodbye

Medications exposed to flood or other unsafe water may be contaminated.
As such, they should be replaced as soon as possible. Medication that
appears to be wet or otherwise changed should especially be avoided.

Health plans may (and in some cases are required to) allow you to refill
prescriptions early and/or at out-of-network pharmacies during an
emergency. This should help expedite the process of replacing your
medication supplies.

Keep your insulin cool

Approximately 10 percent of Americans have diabetes,4 and
research has found that type 2 diabetes is more prevalent among
low-income populations than those with high incomes.5
Everyone with type 1 diabetes, and many with type 2, use insulin to
manage their condition.6

According to the FDA, insulin should ideally be refrigerated, but it may
be kept in manufacturers' vials or cartridges at a temperature of 59 to
86 degrees Fahrenheit for up to 28 days. If you lose power, and,
therefore, the use of your refrigerator, you should try to keep your
insulin as cool as possible (though not frozen), away from direct heat,
and out of direct sunlight.

Once you regain the ability to properly store insulin, you should
discard and replace any supplies that were exposed to extreme conditions.3

About AmeriHealth Caritas

AmeriHealth Caritas is part of the Independence Health Group in
partnership with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. AmeriHealth Caritas
is one of the nation's leaders in health care solutions for those most
in need. Operating in 15 states and the District of Columbia,
AmeriHealth Caritas serves approximately 5.3 million Medicaid, Medicare
and Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) members through its
integrated managed care products, pharmaceutical benefit management and
specialty pharmacy services, behavioral health services, and other
administrative services. Headquartered in Philadelphia, AmeriHealth
Caritas is a mission-driven organization with more than 35 years of
experience serving low-income and chronically ill populations. For more
information, visit

1 Hurricane Safety and Tips. National Weather Service.
Ferris, Elizabeth. Natural Disasters, Conflict, and Human Rights:
Tracing the Connections. Brookings Institute, 3 Mar 2010.
Hurricane Safety Resources. U.S. Food and Drug Administration, 18 Sept.
"Statistics by State." American Diabetes Association, Oct. 2017.
Chih-Cheng Hsu, et. al. Poverty Increases Type 2 Diabetes Incidence and
Inequality of Care Despite Universal Health Coverage. Diabetes Care,
Nov. 2012; 35(11): 2286-2292.
Diabetes Fact Sheet. World Health Organization, Nov. 2017.

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