A Medicare flex card is a prepaid card provided and issued by private Medicare plans, such as a Medicare Advantage plan. A Medicare flex card can be used for certain purchases, such as over-the-counter medicines or copays, to help offset out-of-pocket purchases.
If you’re considering enrolling in a Medicare Advantage plan, it’s essential to know the truth about Medicare flex cards and what they offer. In this article, we’ll debunk the top 5 myths surrounding Medicare flex cards to help you make a more informed decision.
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A Primer On Medicare Flex Cards
Although it is called a Medicare flex card, these cards are not offered with Original Medicare. Rather, they are a benefit available with certain Medicare Advantage plans. Medicare Advantage plans are offered by private insurance companies in place of Original Medicare and must meet standards and coverages set by the government.
Certain Medicare Advantage plans may offer a Medicare flex card as an added benefit for the insured. Flex cards offer funds for some out-of-pocket purchases, such as vision and dental care, prescriptions, and even groceries. Even with these benefits, there are factors to consider, such as spending limits, usage, and availability.
Myth #1: They Are Offered By the Government
It is often believed that Medicare flex cards are issued by the government through Medicare. They are not. Rather, they are offered through certain — but not all — Medicare Advantage plans. If a Medicare recipient chooses to go with the government-offered Medicare, also known as Original Medicare or Medicare Part A and B, they will not be eligible to receive a Medicare flex card.
Flex cards are simply prepaid debit cards offered by some Medicare Advantage plans that can be used for predetermined items or costs. If a company or flex card issuer tries to claim that the flex card is issued by Medicare, that is a red flag to steer clear of that company altogether.
Myth #2: It Is “Free Money”
While it is a benefit of a Medicare Advantage plan to receive a pre-paid debit card to use for certain out-of-pocket expenses, it is not “free money.” The flex card is a benefit that is included in the plan the insured has chosen. The flex card may refill monthly, quarterly, or annually depending on the details of the plan.
It is important to remember that the amount given to the insured and the frequency that it is refilled is predetermined based on the Advantage plan. For example, if an insured has a Medicare flex card with a $225 allowance that refills annually, and the insured spends all $225 within three months, the card will not refill until the year is over.
Myth #3: It Covers Everything
While there are a variety of items and expenses the flex card will cover, a Medicare flex card cannot be used to cover everything. Items that it may cover include the following:
- Over-the-counter medications such as cold medicine or pain reliever
- Dental hygiene items such as toothpaste, toothbrushes, or floss
- Assistive devices, like wheelchair ramps and shower stools
- Copays for dental appointments
- Copays for eye doctor appointments
- Groceries, although some plans may restrict groceries to healthy items only
- Transportation to and from the doctor
- Online purchases for approved medical necessities
Your specific plan will cover what cannot be paid for with a flex card.
Myth #4: Every Medicare Advantage Plan Offers This Benefit
A Medicare flex card is not automatically included with every Medicare Advantage plan. If this is something that sounds beneficial to an insured, they may seek out specific plans that offer a flex card. If someone is already enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan, they should call their provider to see if a flex card is included as a benefit within their plan. If not, they may see if they are able to change to a plan that offers a flex card during the open enrollment period, which is Jan 1st through March 31st annually.
Myth #5: Anyone Can Get a Medicare Flex Card
While some plans offer a flex card as a benefit, it still may not be available to everyone. Some plans offer them to only select people based on health needs. For example, some companies may only offer flex cards to those that are chronically ill or have certain health issues, such as diabetes. So, even though a plan may offer a flex card, not everyone may be eligible to receive the benefit.
Putting It All Together
All in all, having a Medicare flex card may be good for some consumers. It is important to look at all the details of the card, such as who is eligible to use it, what it can be used for, and how much allowance is provided, before picking a plan. While there are many legitimate companies that do offer the flex card, any company that claims that the flex card is provided by Medicare is not being truthful and should be avoided.
Picking a plan that offers a Medicare flex card may be a good choice for individuals who have an illness that comes with out-of-pocket expenses and need additional funds to help cover costs. It is important to contact an expert and go over your needs before purchasing a plan.