Does Medicare Have A Flex Card For Seniors?Everything you need to know about flex cards for seniors: what they are, who needs them, and how Medicare can help provide coverage.
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Flex cards are debit cards used to purchase medical equipment and items. These cards were initially issued by private health insurance companies, and only available on specific plans.
However, flex cards are now available as an additional benefit on Medicare Advantage Plans.
In this article, we will discuss flex cards for seniors, everything you need to know about them, what they do, how much they cost, and if Medicare will help with coverage.
What Are Flex Cards?
Flex cards are debit cards loaded with a predetermined amount of money. They can be used to buy medical equipment, medical expenses, and certain other items.
They are offered by private health insurance companies as an additional benefit to their members. Once you sign up for a plan, your provider will send you your flex card along with information about how you can spend the money.
The card will be linked to a flexible savings account and will have a spending limit. The amount of money you can use will depend on your health care insurance provider and plan.
While various Medicare Advantage providers offer these cards, it’s also important to remember that Medicare Advantage Plan benefits will vary based on location. This means that a Medicare Advantage plan might have a flex card benefit in Georgia and North Carolina, but it may not be available in Texas. If you’re interested in finding out whether there are plans that offer flex cards in your area, speak to one of our consultants to see if there are any available.
What Is a Flexible Spending Account?
A flexible spending account (FSA), or a “flexible spending arrangement”, is a type of savings account that provides the account holder with specific tax advantages. It can be established by an employer for employees of any age.
While both FSAs and flex cards are accounts that can be used to make medical purchases, they aren't the same.
With flex cards, the money provided to you in your flex card account is covered by your health insurance premiums.
With a flexible spending account, your employer pays a portion of your wages in each month and your total taxable income for the year is reduced. Any money you use to pay for medical expenses is also not subject to tax.
Does Original Medicare Offer Flex Cards for Seniors?
Recently, there have been online ads on social media that promote Medicare-linked flex cards for seniors from different insurance companies.
However, the federal Medicare program does not offer seniors a Medicare flex card.
These cards are only offered by Medicare Advantage Plans as an additional benefit for their members.
If you’re on Original Medicare (Parts A and B), you won’t be able to get a flex card through Medicare. The only way to get a flex card is to join a Medicare Advantage Plan that offers them.
What Is a Medicare Beneficiary?
A Medicare Beneficiary is the person who is entitled to Medicare benefits and/or has been determined to be eligible for Medicaid.
What Can I Pay for with My Flex Card?
If you’re a member of a Medicare Advantage Plan that offers flex cards, be sure to read through your contract to understand what you can purchase with it. Some plans will allow you to use Medicare flex cards to pay for anything, while others will only allow you to purchase health-related items, such as:
Co-payments and deductibles
Prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) medications
Terms You Should Know:
Co-payment: A fixed amount of money that you pay out-of-pocket for a specific service.
Deductibles: Amounts that people have to cover before their Medicare plan or insurance starts to pay for medical expenses.
Coinsurance: The portion of the costs that beneficiaries must pay for medical treatments, services, and tests.
Who Is Eligible for a Medicare Advantage Flex Card?
Anyone who is enrolled in Medicare can join a Medicare Advantage Plan that offers a Medicare flex card.
However, in order to be eligible to join a Medicare Advantage Plan, you must:
Be enrolled in Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B
You must not be a member of a Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap) plan.
You must not be a member of Part D stand-alone plan (PDP).
Flex cards are an extra benefit that comes with Medicare Advantage Plans. So, in order to qualify, you must be enrolled in such a plan.
Another important thing to remember is that you can only enroll in a Medicare Advantage Plan at certain times of the year, which is during the open enrollment period, the general enrollment period, or during your initial enrollment period.
If you’d like to learn more about when to apply for Medicare and different health insurance plans, such as Medicare Advantage, check out our guide to find enrollment periods.
Are Flex Cards Free?
While flex cards may be a convenient additional benefit for Medicare members to use, they shouldn’t be considered free.
Medicare Advantage policyholders often have to pay an additional amount on top of their Medicare Part A and Part B monthly premiums to get this benefit.
Some flex card ads for Medicare Advantage Plans state that people can get a "free" $2,880 flex card, the costs of this are usually covered by their premiums.
While a flex card might be ideal for some people, you should always do your research before you settle on a plan.
Some Things to Consider with Flex Cards
There may be an additional charge for this benefit.
Plans can change their coverage offerings every year.
Policyholders should regularly review the benefits offered to make sure their Medicare Advantage Plan continues to meet their needs.
What Other Benefits Should I Look Out for with Medicare Advantage Plans?
While flex cards alone may seem like an attractive benefit for someone on a Medicare Advantage Plan, it’s important to be aware of the many other benefits that you can get with private Medicare coverage. Some popular benefits that Medicare Advantage Plans offer include:
Over-the-counter medication discounts
Free meals after hospitalization
Other common benefits that Medicare Advantage offers are zero-premium plans, gym memberships, access to health centers, and wellness programs.
If you’d like to learn more about the different benefits that Medicare Advantage Plans offer, speak to one of our consultants today.
Equivalent Cover and Medicare Advantage Plans
Medicare Advantage Plans are required by law to provide the equivalent level of coverage as Original Medicare to their members.
This means that a person on Medicare Advantage is guaranteed to receive the same quality of service and coverage as all other Medicare beneficiaries.
What Else Should I Consider When Choosing a Medicare Advantage Plan?
Flex cards and other benefits aren’t the only factors you should consider before deciding on a plan. Here are some tips to help you decide which plan is right for you.
Look at the plan’s Medicare star rating: The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) releases an annual report on the quality of service and care that Medicare Advantage Plans provide their members. If a plan has a high rating (4 or more stars) then you’ll know that they will be able to offer you quality service.
Read reviews of different plan providers: Find out what other people have said about the health care provider you’re interested in. You can also ask your friends or family to see what they think before you choose a plan.
Look at the monthly premiums you’ll have to pay: People often forget that they will still need to cover their Part A and Part B premiums when they join a Medicare Advantage Plan.
Be sure to weigh up what you’ll be paying each month and make sure that additional benefits, such as a Medicare flex card, offer you value for your money.
Be aware of plan costs before you sign up: On top of monthly premiums look at the co-pays that you’ll have to cover if you get sick. If you have a chronic disease or condition, be sure to check that your plan will offer comprehensive cover and that you won’t have to pay for costs out of your own pocket.
Compare your options: Researching different competitors will help you find the best deal in your area. Remember that Medicare Advantage providers constantly update their service areas, so if you’ve been with a plan for some time, there may be new providers in your area that offer lower monthly rates or more benefits.
Use Medicare insurance agents: Medicare professionals have market experience and knowledge and will be able to save you time and money. If you haven’t used a Medicare agent yet, consider contacting one to find great Medicare Advantage options in your area.
Where Can I Learn More About Medicare Cover?
Choosing a Medicare Advantage Plan can be difficult, but with the right advice, anyone can do so. Medicare flex cards are an ideal benefit for some people but always look at other benefits before you decide on a plan.
If you’re interested in learning more about Original Medicare, Medicare Advantage, or Medicare Supplement Insurance, head to PolicyScout’s Medicare hub.
We have loads of articles to help you understand costs, enrollment options, different plans, and coverage.
If you are a senior thinking of getting a Medicare flex card, send your questions to Help@PolicyScout.com or call us at 1-888-912-2132 to get personalized assistance with finding a health insurance plan.