Medicare’s open enrollment period, which runs between October 15 and December 7 in 2022, is just around the corner – and, with it, endless ads for a range of products, including the Medicare Flex Card for seniors.
With huge, advertised benefits, it is easy to see how the Medicare Flex Card can be incredibly appealing. But before diving headfirst into this type of healthcare coverage, it is important to review the benefits and disadvantages it brings.
Start with the quick-start guide below.
Medicare Flex Card for Seniors: An Overview
Medicare Flex Cards are debit cards offered by private Medicare Advantage providers and insurance companies. Senior beneficiaries can use these pre-loaded cards for certain healthcare purchases, including medical equipment and OTC medications.
Typically, Medicare Flex Cards have pre-determined spending limits set by each provider and can be used for a wide range of purchases, which are specified by the issuer. Lastly, the availability and benefits of Flex cards for seniors vary based on location.
What Does the Medicare Flex Card for Seniors Cover?
The qualifying medical expenses that can be covered with flex cards for seniors vary. However, most providers will allow you to use your card for expenses such as:
- Medical equipment
- Medications (both over-the-counter and prescription)
- Copayments and deductibles
- Diagnostic devices
- Dental, vision, and hearing medical care
- Other items deemed medically necessary by a physician
Be sure to check your policy’s blueprint and the full list of eligible purchases to make sure that your plan will deliver the benefits you are expecting.
How Much Can You Receive With a Medicare Flex Card for Seniors
If today, over 99% of the senior population in the US is covered by healthcare insurance it is thanks to the Affordable Care Act and Medicare. And, since the introduction of these policies, people around the country have been able to benefit from additional plans that provide near-universal coverage for the elderly, including Medicare Flex Cards.
But while these cards can be beneficial, advertisements can be misleading. That is why it is important to clarify who offers them and what they offer.
Firstly, it isn’t Original Medicare, or other government-run programs, offering Flex Cards for seniors. Instead, this program is sponsored by Medicare Advantage providers and private insurance companies.
What’s more, these cards are an add-on to your standard Medicare Advantage part, not a basic part of it. Even more importantly, advertisements often lead beneficiaries to understand that they’ll receive up to $2,880 in spendable credit, while most cards are pre-loaded with $200 to $500.
If you have been convinced to invest in a Flex Card by an advertisement, go beyond the claims made and ask your provider about spending limits and eligible purchases.
How To Apply for a Medicare Flex Card for Seniors
Medicare Advantage plans will not require you to undergo health examinations or answer underwriting health questions, meaning that these plans are available to those with long-term and pre-existing conditions.
Nonetheless, to be eligible, you’ll need to meet several requirements, including:
- You must have a Medicare Advantage participating policy
- You must sign up during the Medicare enrollment period
- You must be enrolled in Medicare Part A and Part B
- You can’t have a Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap) plan
- You can’t have a Part D stand-alone plan (PDP)
It is important to notice that Medicare Flex Cards for seniors only cover a limited network of providers and facilities, and are associated with higher out-of-pocket costs.
Make Sure a Medicare Flex Card for Seniors Is Right for You
One of the most important factors to consider when choosing the right health insurance policy is your unique health needs.
While Medicare Flex Cards might be beneficial for most seniors, they might not work as well for you. Even worse, signing up for Flex Cards might mean leaving behind a more suitable plan such as Medigap.
Before signing up, make sure that your current physician is within the Flex Card network and that the eligible purchases include the prescriptions, medical equipment, and care services you need. And, since Flex Card benefits are updated yearly, take time to review your Annual Notice of Change before renewing your policy.
If in doubt, consult your current insurance provider, compare plans, and speak to your healthcare provider.