It’s that time of year when advertisements for Medicare begin to emerge. They are everywhere! On your tv, mobile device, and computer screens.
However, most of these advertisements may be misleading or deceptive. Have you recently found yourself bombarded with advertisements for a flex card for seniors on Medicare?
If you answered yes, you should research a bit before making a decision. A frequent inquiry is if Medicare flex cards cover the $2,880 amount for seniors.
Let’s take a closer look at the whole concept in this Medicare guide for flex cards. We’ll clear up any confusion concerning a flex card for seniors on Medicare.
What Is Medicare?
Before we address Medicare flex cards, let’s explain what Medicare is.
Medicare is a government health-care program that covers people over the age of 65 and some disabled children and teenagers. It also covers end-stage renal disease patients (patients that have permanent kidney failure where they need dialysis or a transplant).
What Is a Flex Card for Seniors on Medicare?
A Medicare Flex Card for seniors is a plastic card that stores monetary values. The sum of your dependent care, medical, and flexible spending accounts shows up on this card.
There are no transaction costs or PINs, so you can swipe the card through a provider’s scanner using the “credit/credit card” option. Money is deducted from your account when you swipe your Medicare Flex Card.
Flex cards are pre-loaded debit cards that you can use to pay for medical expenses by qualifying Medicare recipients. These flex cards are only available from a few private insurers, and they have only a select number of plans available.
Every plan has a different limit on spending and what things you can use the card for. Beneficiaries can use their flex cards to buy medical supplies and equipment.
These cards, which are usually tied to a flex spending account, are a benefit offered by qualified health plans across the country. And, these cards are accessible on particular plans and are only provided by private insurance firms.
The cards also have different spending limits depending on the plan and provider. The flex card feature is not prevalent in Medicare Advantage plans, although it is available in a few across the country.
Medicare does not issue flex cards to seniors. As a result, the government does not run this type of senior program.
Private Medicare Advantage plans, not Original Medicare, distribute the cards you see in the advertisements. Several respected insurance companies offer this service.
How to Use a Flex Card
You can only use Flex Cards to pay for qualified medical expenses. These include:
- Medical equipment
- Copayments and deductibles
- Prescription and over-the-counter drugs
- Vision, dental, and hearing care
- Other medically essential charges (you can find a detailed list in your plan details)
What Is a Flexible Spending Account (FSA)?
The Federal Flexible Spending Account Program, or FSAFEDS, allows Federal employees to use tax-advantaged flexible spending accounts to save money on qualifying health and dependent care expenses.
By paying for these out-of-pocket expenses with pre-tax wage contributions rather than post-tax income, participants can save an average of 30% on family health, dentistry, vision, and childcare costs.
You can invest any amount in an FSA up to the limit set by your employer. FSAs are also known as Flexible Spending Accounts. This money is exempt from taxation.
Your employer has two options to choose from if you have money left over at the close of the year, but not both. You can have an additional 2.5 months to spend any leftover funds, or you can carry over up to $500 to the next plan year.
How Does the Medicare Flex Card Work?
The advertisement for the flex card makes claims that cause beneficiaries to believe that up to $2,880 in funds from Medicare will be transferred into a flex card. This is not the case.
While other carriers offer this benefit, it is unusual to receive such a large sum. The typical Flex Card for seniors on Medicare will receive a $500 balance, that is preloaded, in 2022.
Medical bills that fulfill certain conditions qualify for Flex Cards. Seniors with a Medicare plan may find these beneficial.
How to Apply for a Flex Card
Eligible employees can enroll in FSAFEDS during the yearly Federal Benefits Open Season running in November and December. Newly eligible individuals can join outside of the Open Season within 60 days after their start date.
But, they must do so by September 30. Employees who meet the eligibility requirements can join outside of Open Season.
But, it has to be within 60 days of a qualifying life event (QLE), such as a marriage or a birth. They must still do so by September 30. Newly qualified QLE employees who miss the September 30 cutoff can join during Open Season.
Who Is Eligible for the FSAFEDS Account?
You must be employed by an organization that takes part in FSAFEDS to be qualified for a health care flex spending account. You must be eligible to join the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHB), however, you are not required to do so.
You will be eligible for benefits between January 1 to December 31. Costs incurred during that period are reportable until April 30th of the next year.
If you have not depleted your health care or FSAFEDS account by December 31st, FSAFEDS will carry over up to $500 of your unspent funds towards your health care, or your limited expense FSAFEDS account the following calendar year.
You must be working for an FSAFEDS-participating organization and actively making payments from your wages from January 1 to December 31 of the prior benefit period to be eligible for carryover. To use carryover, you must also re-enroll in a limited-expenditure or health-care account within Open Season.
Medicare Flex Card Qualifications
Who is eligible for a Medicare flex card? Flex cards get bundled with your health insurance. You must enroll in a health care insurance plan that includes a flex spending account to be eligible for a flex card.
A Medicare Advantage policy is often linked to a senior flex card. These supplemental plans combine Medicare with additional services to create healthcare packages suited to seniors.
How to Know if Your Flex Card Is Legit
Many individuals have wondered if this is a legitimate offer or a blatant fraud. The most comprehensive legal flex plan found included a $1,000 flex card along with a $50 per month debit card for additional out-of-pocket spending for a total of $1,600 each year.
That’s significantly less than the $2,880 asking price. Even if you are qualified, any Medicare Advantage program should be carefully considered.
The flex card is a tempting offer, but make sure you are not missing other important healthcare benefits to getting it. Furthermore, if you don’t read the fine print carefully, you may wind end up footing the bill in other areas of your plan.
Finally, the amount of funds you can get on a flex card is determined by where you live and which plan you select. Flex cards aren’t offered in every state, and they’re not provided by every carrier.
To find out if your plan provides this benefit, you should contact your insurer directly. You can also search for the benefits of your plan on Medicare.gov.
Lookout for Medicare Scams
Scammers love the period for Medicare open enrollment and take advantage of it. The open enrollment period has typically been a strong time for scammers aiming to capitalize on the elderly.
Because during the open enrollment, seniors can change their health care coverage. Furthermore, seniors expect to be asked for personal and sensitive information at some point during the process which makes it even easier for scammers to gather this information, more than usual.
Aside from that, numerous websites have affiliate connections with different Medicare Advantage carriers, which means they get compensated if you purchase something through them. So, while they aren’t exactly fraudulent, some of them aren’t opposed to deceptive marketing.
Don’t Provide Your Personal Information Online
As a general rule, you should never provide sensitive personal data online to unknown companies. Never offer your name, home address, Social Security number, Medicare number, information about your bank account, or other identifying information to anyone alleging to be a Medicare sales representative.
If they contact you first, do not interact. Most reputable organizations will ask to get you to contact them first. They will get your permission before contacting you.
If someone calls you and then wants your personal information, this is a major red flag. We tend to succumb to our fear and give them our personal information. However, it is best to remain calm and avoid falling into the trap.
Find a Trustworthy Medicare Counselor
The easiest way to find a reputable Medicare consultant is to call your local Area Agency on Aging. Health Insurance Counseling or an Advocacy Program is available in several states to assist you in navigating these complex benefits.
If you would like to learn more about getting a flex card for seniors on Medicare, we can help! Contact us, or check out our About section for helpful information.