Tropical Storm Barry: UnitedHealthcare, Optum take action to help those affected

As wind and rain from Tropical Storm Barry began to hit the Louisiana coast, UnitedHealthCare and Optum said they’re set to help people affected by any severe weather and flooding associated with the storm.

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The health benefits and service companies said this week they can help their health plan participants make alternative arrangements to access care and get early prescription refills.

For those seeking assistance, the companies said their health plan participants should call the number on the back of their medical ID cards. But plan participants who have lost their cards can call 866-633-2446 between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. in local time zones.

Optum is also offering a free emotional support line for anyone to call. Their mental health specialists will be available to help people manage stress and anxiety, the company said. They may also be able to help with referrals to community resources to help with financial and legal matters. The toll-free number is 866-342-6892.

The storm is set to test the strength of New Orleans’ flood defenses that were revamped after Hurricane Katrina. The National Weather Service issued a hurricane warning for parts of the Louisiana coast as officials prepare for Barry to make landfall.

Forecasters said a “life-threatening storm surge” is possible. They also said the slow-moving storm could drench the central Gulf Coast and lower Mississippi Valley with heavy rainfall throughout the weekend and into early next week.

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President Trump declared a state of emergency for Louisiana Thursday and approved a federal assistance request from Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards. The Louisiana National Guard has mobilized 3,000 troops to help emergency personnel and residents.