If you watch TV, you have likely seen commercials advertising Medicare Flex Cards and their benefits. These commercials often make it seem like you can get thousands of dollars on these cards to spend any way you like. It also appears that anyone who is enrolled in Medicare can get one. However, that is not the case.
Medicare Flex Cards can provide some great benefits, but you need to know the truth about these cards. Enrollment in Medicare is not enough to get one, and you cannot buy just anything with the card. The cards can only be used for eligible medical expenses. If you want to learn more about the flex card, just keep reading. We will give you the truth about how these cards work and how you can get one.
What Is A Medicare Flex Card?
So, what is a flex card? A Medicare flex card for seniors is similar to a debit card or credit card that can be used to pay for qualified medical expenses. In most cases, the flex card is tied to a flexible spending account (FSA). When you visit the doctor or need to purchase medical supplies, you simply swipe the card to pay for the purchase. For example, you could swipe your flex card to pay for the copay at your doctor’s visit. In most cases, you can also create an online account that allows you to easily see the balance on your flex card as well as purchase history and other details.
Some flex cards come pre-loaded with a certain amount of money already available for use. Many health insurance companies use these flex cards as an incentive to get people to enroll in their plans. Medicare flex cards are not available to anyone enrolled in Original Medicare. These cards are only available to Medicare beneficiaries who are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan. Not all Medicare Advantage plans come with a flex card either. Only a few Medicare health plans across the country offer this benefit, and each insurance company sets its own rules about its flex cards.
Eligibility Requirements For A Flex Card
What are the Medicare Flex Card eligibility rules? Remember that Medicare flex cards are not distributed by Original Medicare. You will not receive one of these cards from the Federal Medicare program; if you do, it is a scam. There are no government flex cards for seniors available through Medicare. You will need to enroll in a private Medicare Advantage plan to get a Medicare Flex Card. Enrolling in a Medicare Advantage plan requires you to meet the essential eligibility criteria for Medicare.
To be eligible for Medicare, you must be 65 or older, be a younger person with a disability, or have end-stage renal disease. If you meet one of these requirements, you can enroll in Medicare. Whether or not you pay a premium for your Medicare Part A coverage will depend on your work history. All Medicare beneficiaries pay a premium for Part B coverage, and most Medicare Advantage plans require the payment of a monthly premium.
Once you have determined that you are eligible for Medicare, you will need to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan that offers the flex card benefit. You can visit the plan finder tool at Medicare.gov to locate Advantage plans in your area. Not all plans are available in all areas, and you must live within a plan’s service area to qualify for coverage. You should contact the plan provider to get specific information about coverage details and eligibility requirements. Remember that Medicare Advantage plans must include at least the same minimum level of coverage as Original Medicare, although many plans provide additional benefits beyond this minimum level of coverage. The flex card is one benefit that some plans offer.
How To Find A Medicare Advantage Plan With A Flex Card
Once you have confirmed that you are eligible for Medicare coverage, it is time to find a Medicare Advantage plan that offers the flex card benefit. We have already mentioned the fact that not all Advantage plans include a flex card. In fact, the majority of plans do not have this benefit. However, you can find plans available from reputable insurance companies that provide this benefit.
Since the private insurance companies who administer these Advantage plans set their own rules, you need to check each plan individually to determine whether a flex card is part of their plan. The easiest way to do this is by using the Medicare plan finder tool at Medicare.gov. This tool makes it easy to search for and compare plans in your area. Since not all plans are available in all locations, you will want to make sure that you are specifically looking for plans available where you live.
In addition to finding a plan that includes a flex card, you should also take a look at the details of the flex card benefit. Some plans offer a higher spending limit on the flex card than others. Since this is essentially free money that the insurance company is giving you, the higher the amount, the better. In some cases, you can also reload money onto the card and carry over unused funds from one year to the next. However, strict rules govern flexible spending accounts, so you should confirm these details with the plan administrator.
Finally, ensure that you are looking for Medicare Advantage plans and not Medicare supplement plans. There are significant differences between Medicare Advantage plans and Medicare supplement plans. Flex cards are not available through Medicare supplement plans (Medigap plans). Medicare supplement insurance is an extension of Original Medicare that helps pay for out-of-pocket expenses not covered by Original Medicare. The flex cards are only available through certain Medicare Advantage plans.
Signing Up For A Flex Card For Seniors
Now that you have found a Medicare Advantage plan that includes a flex card, how do you sign up? The process varies a little depending on whether or not you have already signed up for Medicare. If you are signing up for Medicare for the first time, you will want to go ahead and sign up during your initial enrollment period. Go ahead and contact the insurance company that manages the Advantage plan to get started. The process usually just requires providing them with your basic personal information to get you signed up. Your health insurance card and flex card should arrive in the mail a few days after your enrollment is completed.
Current enrollees in Medicare who wish to switch to a Medicare Advantage plan with a flex plan benefit will have to follow a slightly different process. Remember that you cannot simply change Medicare plans at any time during the year. You will need to wait until the annual open enrollment period unless you qualify for a special enrollment period. Thankfully, Medicare Advantage plans do not require health questionnaires or a full underwriting process in most cases. You will simply need to contact the insurance company to get signed up. In many cases, you can enroll for health care coverage with the company online.
Remember that there are other things to consider about these Medicare Advantage plans beyond the flex card benefit. Although it might seem great to get free money, there are many other factors you should take into consideration. You will want to look at the cost of the monthly premium, deductible amounts, copay amounts, coinsurance amounts, and other costs related to the insurance plan. Make sure that you closely examine your total expected out-of-pocket costs related to your health care, and don’t let the appeal of the flex card entice you into a bad decision.
Eligible Expenses For A Medicare Flex Card
So, what can you purchase with your Medicare Flex Card? Many TV commercials would have you believe that you can use the card to buy groceries, clothing, shoes, and many other items. However, this is almost never the case. Flex cards can be used for eligible medical expenses.
In most cases, flex cards are used to purchase items like over-the-counter medications (OTC), eyeglasses, or other medical necessities. Medical equipment, like a wheelchair, walker, or glucose monitor, might also qualify. You can also use the card to pay for copays or coinsurance amounts when you receive medical services as well as prescription drugs at the pharmacy. Here is a fairly comprehensive list of items that can be paid for with your flex card.
- Coinsurance amounts
- Medical Equipment
- Prescription drugs
- Over-the-counter (OTC) medications
- Vision exams
- Contact Lenses
- Dental care
- First aid equipment, like bandages
- Diagnostic devices
- Other medically-necessary expenses
Shoes and groceries are rarely considered eligible purchases, although it is possible in some limited situations. For example, if your doctor agrees that it is medically necessary for you to wear a certain type of orthopedic shoe, then your flex card could likely be used to buy it. Similarly, chronically-ill patients who are prescribed a special diet by their physician can generally use their flex card to buy the special foods they require. However, the senior flex card cannot be used on these types of items unless they are considered medically necessary by your doctor.
Avoiding Flex Card Scams
Unfortunately, there are many scams out there today that advertise free flex cards. Since the free money associated with these cards is enticing, scammers get many people to fall for their tricks. So, how do you avoid these scams? There are several things that you can do to stay away from these traps. First, never give your personal information to any company that you do not know, especially online. Do not give them your name, address, Medicare number, Social Security number, or other personal information. Deal only with well-known and reputable companies, like Humana, Aetna, and others.
Next, make sure that you are not following the advice of someone who has ulterior motives. For instance, you could be taking advice from an insurance agent who is getting a commission from making a sale. They might not always be giving you the best advice for your situation. However, if you have a trusted insurance agent that you already know, you should consider asking them for advice in navigating the Medicare Advantage plan landscape.
Lastly, you can look for help through independent organizations. There are many organizations out there that help seniors with Medicare planning and other similar items, so finding one of these organizations can provide a great benefit. These organizations can help you through these complex decisions, and they can provide all the details you need to make the most informed decision.
The Bottom Line
The Medicare flex card program is real, and these cards can provide a great benefit in some cases. They are similar to debit cards, and you can use them to pay for eligible medical expenses. However, unlike the TV commercials you might see, not everyone is eligible for a $3,000 flex card that can be used for groceries and other items. Flex cards are only available through certain Medicare Advantage plans, and the average amount loaded onto the cards is about $500. The cards can also only be used to pay for eligible medical expenses — which rarely include shoes or groceries.
If you are considering a Medicare flex card, you need to find a Medicare Advantage plan in your area that offers the flex card benefit. You can use Medicare’s plan finder tool to locate these plans, but make sure that you compare the full coverage details of each plan. You might be giving up valuable coverage just to get the flex card. Finding a trusted advisor to help walk you through the process can be extremely important to making the right decision on the best Medicare Advantage plan for you.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do you qualify for a senior Flex Card?
There are a few things you must do to qualify for a senior flex card. First, you must be eligible for Medicare. However, enrollment in just any Medicare plan won’t do it. Flex cards are only available to enrollees of qualified Medicare Advantage plans. So, you will need to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan that includes the flex card benefit. Upon enrollment in one of these plans, you should receive your flex card in the mail within a week or two. You should refer to your plan’s documentation for specifics on how much money is loaded onto the card and what expenses the card can be used for.
What is the process for applying for a senior Flex Card?
There is not really an application process for Medicare Flex Cards. As long as you are enrolled in a participating Medicare Advantage plan, you will receive the flex card. Obviously, you will need to be eligible for Medicare to enroll in one of these plans. Contact the insurance company that manages the plan in which you wish to enroll. Provide them with your personal information, like your name, address, and other identifying information, to get signed up. Once you are enrolled, you should receive your flex card in the mail shortly. It’s that easy! Once the card arrives, you can begin using it for qualified medical expenses like copays, deductibles, OTC medications, and other expenses.
What can you do with the Medicare Flex Card?
You can use your Medicare Flex Card to pay for out-of-pocket expenses associated with your Medicare coverage. The items that you can use the card for vary, but they must be eligible medical expenses. Some examples include copays, coinsurance amounts, eyeglasses, prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, dental care, vision exams, and contact lenses.
Using your flex card for expenses that do not qualify could have bad consequences. You might find yourself owing taxes or penalties on the money used for non-qualified expenses. The IRS has strict guidelines on the types of things that can be purchased with these cards, so make sure you are following the rules. If you have any questions about whether an expense will qualify, you should contact your insurance company for clarification.
Is the Flex Card free?
Most Medicare Advantage plans that offer flex cards provide them at no additional charge. However, make sure that you closely examine all the coverage details offered by the plan. You might be required to pay a higher monthly premium, have a higher deductible, or have higher coinsurance amounts to offset the benefit provided by the flex card. Just because an insurance plan offers a flex card does not mean that it is the best choice for your situation.
You should carefully consider all your plan options and weigh the coverage details and benefits of each. Your situation also dictates which plan is best for you. Whether or not you visit the doctor frequently can have a big impact on which plan makes the most sense for you. Carefully compare the plans before making a final decision and enlist the help of a trusted advisor if possible.