The Flex Card is a legitimate benefit offered by some Medicare Advantage plans. It is not available everywhere or by all plans. However, many TV commercials hype Medicare Flex Card benefits for seniors without explaining what they are and who qualifies, making the program ripe for scammers.
What is the Truth About the Flex Card for Seniors?
This article will look at the Flex Card for seniors over 65 and show you how to use one to save money on your healthcare.
- A Flex Card is a legitimate additional benefit offered by some Medicare Advantage plans.
- The cards can be used to pay for qualifying healthcare expenses.
- The maximum amount a plan can offer on their Flex Card is $2,880 per year.
- The average Flex Card benefit is around $500 per year.
- Flex Cards are not free. They are part of a plan’s total benefits package.
- Flex Cards are heavily marketed and a soft target for scammers.
- There are no government Flex Cards for seniors, and there isn’t a Medicare grocery allowance program. Only private health plans offer this benefit.
What is a Senior Flex Card?
A senior Flex Card, sometimes called a Social Security Flex Card for seniors, is a pre-paid debit card. Qualifying Medicare beneficiaries can use it to buy medical supplies, medical equipment, and certain healthcare items, including food. It is essentially a form of reimbursement for medical expenses.
These cards are often linked to flexible spending accounts (FSAs). They are an added benefit to Medicare beneficiaries enrolled in a qualified health insurance plan.
Private insurance companies issue flex debit cards on certain health plans. The spending limit varies depending on the plan and the carrier.
Although the Flex Card benefit isn’t a standard feature in all Medicare Advantage plans, it is available in a few plans across the country. It’s important to note that these cards are not part of the government-run program.
For the sake of clarity, and to help you avoid being scammed, this is the truth about the Flex Card for seniors. The Medicare program does not distribute Flex Cards. In other words, there isn’t a Medicare Flex Card program, per se. It’s an extra benefit offered by a handful of Medicare Advantage plans.
Is the Senior Flex Card Legitimate?
Yes, Flex Cards for seniors are legitimate. They are not a scam. However, it isn’t difficult to see how insurance agents, agencies, and marketers can use them in a slimy way to promote “free money” and “free Flex Cards for seniors”. So, be careful.
While it is true that the maximum benefit Medicare will allow plans to offer is $2,880, that is not the amount they deposit on the Flex Card. In fact, we could not find any plans that offer Flex Cards with a benefit anywhere near that amount of money.
So, why does the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services allow blatantly misleading and false advertising about Medicare benefits? It’s not that they condone it, but it takes them a while to crack down on the offending companies.
Also, remember this. It isn’t just health insurance companies that promote Flex Card. There are plenty of companies out there that make a living off of selling your information. The people and companies that do so are scams.
If an offer sounds too good to be true, it is.
Don’t fall for telemarketers trying to help you get your $2,880 Flex Card benefit out of the goodness of their hearts. They want your Social Security number, birth date, bank account number, and anything else they can use to rob you blind or sell you out.
Are Flex Cards Really Free?
Although a Flex Card might seem like a nice additional benefit, it shouldn’t be considered free.
Medicare Advantage plans often charge their enrollees an additional amount on top of their Medicare Part A and Part B monthly premiums. The additional amount is what pays for the additional benefits in the plan.
So, even though a plan advertises that members get a “free Flex Card for senior citizens worth up to $2,880”, you can bet that the cost of this benefit is baked into additional premiums, out-of-pocket costs, or annual limits. Don’t buy into the sales and marketing hype. Do the math.
How Do You Get a Senior Flex Card?
The federal Medicare program does not distribute flex cards for seniors. To put it another way, these cards are not part of a government-run program.
Flex Cards benefits are offered by certain Medicare Advantage plans. And, as of the 2023 plan year, only a few plans offer this benefit.
This might be confusing because we’re all being bombarded with TV commercials touting senior Flex Card benefits. So, you’d think they are a common plan option. But only a few Medicare Advantage providers offer them, and only on specific plans, And, you must live in the plan’s service area to qualify. If you do qualify, you can join during a qualifying Medicare enrollment period.
Unlike Medicare Supplement plans, eligibility does not require you to answer health questions or go through a medical underwriting process. Joining a Medicare Advantage plan with Flex Card benefits is easy.
That said, to participate in a Medicare Advantage plan, you are required to use the plan’s provider network and follow its rules. If you don’t, you may not be covered or you’ll be required to pay out-of-network rates.
Flex cards are not available in every state or with every carrier. It is best to contact a licensed insurance agent to inquire about plans that offer this benefit. We recommend HealthCompare. You can reach them at 1-855-728-0510 (TTY 711).
How Do You Use a Flex Card?
Senior Flex Card benefits can be used to pay for qualifying medical expenses. These out-of-pocket costs include:
- Medical equipment
- Copayments and deductibles
- Prescription drugs
- Over-the-counter (OTC) medications
- Dental, vision, and hearing care
- Diagnostic devices
- Other medically necessary expenses
Are Flex Cards Available with Medigap Plans?
Flex Cards are not compatible with Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap).
Medigap plans work in lockstep with Original Medicare. If a service or benefit is not covered under Medicare Part A or Part B, it can’t be covered by a Medigap plan, either. That includes the Flex Card.
Medigap plans supplement Original Medicare. They cover some of the out-of-pocket costs built into Medicare Part A and Part B, including deductibles, copayments, and coinsurance.
If you have a Medigap policy that covers the Medicare Part B coinsurance, you basically already have a Flex Card for all Medicare-approved expenses.
Frequently Asked Questions
To qualify for a Flex Card, you must join a participating Medicare Advantage plan and reside in its service area. You can only join a plan during a qualifying Medicare enrollment period, which includes your Initial Enrollment Period or the Annual Enrollment Period. For more information, read The Truth About The Flex Card for Seniors.
Yes. IRS regulations allow you to use your Flex Cards in participating local or mail-order pharmacies, discount stores, and supermarkets that can identify FSA/HRA-eligible items at checkout and accept pre-paid cards. For more information, read The Truth About The Flex Card for Seniors.
No. Flex cards are only available through specific Medicare Advantage plans. There is no government flex card for seniors on Medicare but some people with certain private health plans will get a monthly allotment to help cover the costs of medical items and food. For more information, read The Truth About The Flex Card for Seniors.
- Welcome to Medicare | Medicarehttps://www.medicare.gov/
- Explore your Medicare coverage optionshttps://www.medicare.gov/plan-compare/
- Compare Original Medicare & Medicare Advantage | Medicarehttps://www.medicare.gov/basics/get-started-with-medicare/get-more-coverage/your-coverage-options/compare-original-medicare-medicare-advantage
- Humana Inc. – Humana Expanding Medicare Advantage Health Plans in 2022 to Address Beneficiaries’ Most Important Needs, Delivering Predictable, Affordable and Understandable Health Carehttps://press.humana.com/news/news-details/2021/Humana-Expanding-Medicare-Advantage-Health-Plans-in-2022-to-Address-Beneficiaries-Most-Important-Needs-Delivering-Predictable-Affordable-and-Understandable-Health-Care/default.aspx
- Medicare Flex cards feature misleading ads | CBS 17https://www.cbs17.com/news/investigators/medicare-flex-card-features-misleading-ads/