Finding IBD Assistance During Natural Disasters


During a time of crisis, managing Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis can become even more difficult. There are resources available to patients who live in areas that are prone to natural disasters (hurricanes, tornadoes, etc.):

For uninsured patients, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) created the Emergency Prescription Assistance Program (EPAP). Information about this program is provided below: 

  • EPAP provides an efficient mechanism for over 70,000 enrolled retail pharmacies nationwide to process claims for certain kinds of prescription drugs, specific medical supplies, vaccines and some forms of durable medical equipment (DME) for eligible individuals in a Federally-identified disaster area.
  • Patients who do not have health insurance may qualify for help under EPAP.  Eligible patients can initiate a claim for certain medical items if they were lost, stolen or destroyed as the result of certain disasters. 
  • Patients will receive an initial 30-day supply of most prescription drugs or specific medical supplies. Prescriptions may be renewed every 30 days for as long as EPAP is active.  If you rely on medical supplies, you can get additional supplies every 30 days for as long as EPAP is active. DME is typically only provided once, but if it is lost or stolen after it has been issued, it may be replaced. Vaccines are typically a single course of treatment and do not need to be refilled. 
  • For further information please call (855-793-7470) or visit https://www.phe.gov/Preparedness/planning/epap/Pages/default.aspx 

For insured patients (Private, Medicare, and Medicaid), public and private plans have “Natural Disaster Coverage” included in their plans:

  • Each provider has plan-specific coverage and emergency “overrides.”
  • After the emergency supply, the patient must refill their existing prescription or get a new one from their doctor. If the patient’s plan does not cover medications beyond a 5-day supply, the cost is the responsibility of the patient. Patients that have home owner insurance may be able to get help.

If ever needed for future reference, the following links provide information for emergency preparedness for prescription medications and other related prepping tips: 

If you have additional questions, please contact the IBD Help Center at info@crohnscolitisfoundation.org or 888-694-8872 Monday through Friday, 9:00a.m. to 5:00p.m. EST.



For further information, call Crohn's & Colitis Foundation's IBD Help Center: 888.MY.GUT.PAIN (888.694.8872).

The Crohn's & Colitis Foundation provides information for educational purposes only. We encourage you to review this educational material with your health care professional. The Foundation does not provide medical or other health care opinions or services. The inclusion of another organization's resources or referral to another organization does not represent an endorsement of a particular individual, group, company or product.

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Published: August 28, 2017

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