How to Get a Flex Card for Seniors
Flex cards are a Medicare Advantage benefit that is gaining popularity with both carriers and customers. But how can you find a plan with this benefit and what would it look like?
In this blog, we’re exploring how you can get a flex card benefit and what that might look like.
Need Medicare or retirement planning help? The Medicare Allies team specializes in Medicare health insurance as well as retirement planning. Call us today at 833-801-7999 for personalized help.
What is a flex card?
Flex cards are pre-loaded, debit-like cards that come with some Medicare Advantage plans. They can be used to extend health-related services like dental, vision and hearing benefits. You may also be able to use your flex cards to assist with copays, prescription sunglasses and other similar items.
Flex card benefit plans may have varying rules for what the cards can be used for, and the amount given on the card often varies by plan.
As with all health-related services, you should carefully review information before enrolling in a flex card plan to ensure you understand all rules and regulations that may apply.
Finding a flex card plan
Getting a flex card requires enrolling in a Medicare Advantage plan that offers this particular benefit.
Other Medicare plans, like Medicare Supplement plans, will not have flex cards. Flex cards are not part of the federal Medicare program and Medicare does not distribute these cards.
Medicare Advantage plans, which are privatized Medicare plans offered by most major health carriers, often add additional “bonus” benefits like flex cards to their plans.
Flex cards may have alternative names depending on the carrier, and all plans may not be available in all areas. When reviewing plan options, look for flexible spending card benefit options, which will indicate that plan has a flex card.
What are the qualifications for flex cards?
You can only get a flex card if you are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan that offers flex card benefits. This means the main qualification for receiving a flex card is enrolling in a plan with them.
Medicare Advantage plans are set at the zip code level, so it’s important to review the plan options in your area.
Not all plans have flex cards, and there is a real possibility that this benefit may not be available in your area. And it is possible for similar plans in different areas to have variations in benefits, including flex cards.
If your friend in another city has a plan with a flex card, enrolling in a similar plan in your area will not guarantee identical coverage.
What are the limitations of flex cards?
Flex card benefits are at the discretion of the individual carriers. This means that the usage rules and amount given can vary dramatically.
Some cards will not allow over-the-counter purchases, while others may specify exactly what they can and cannot be used for. Because they’re offered by the carrier, it also affects availability, as discussed before.
Not all plans, carriers and locations have flex card options. In fact, they are not available at all in many parts of the country as it is a newer benefit still in its infancy.
Another limitation is the amount of money given to those with flex cards. Some advertisements claim you will get a restriction-free card with thousands of dollars on it, but the truth is far from it. Instead of thousands, most people who receive flex cards only get a couple hundred dollars to use with their card.
The exact amount varies by plan, so it’s important to read plan information to ensure you are aware of what amounts and limitations your card may have.
Where can I use my flex card?
For most carriers, flex card spending is limited to participating retailers and only covers specific health-related items. Careful review of your plan’s information can help you better understand the guidelines for your unique plan.
It is a money card and should be protected and treated like private information, including if it is lost or stolen.
Do flex cards cover groceries?
If your flex card is truly flexible, you might wonder if you can use it for healthy grocery purchases. Unfortunately, most Medicare Advantage plans stipulate that the card must be used for medical purposes.
The exception to that is dual-eligibility Medicare Advantage plans for those who qualify. Those plans may offer some healthy grocery assistance in some instances.
Understanding purchasing limitations and what types of products your plan will allow you to use flex cards on is an important part of pre-enrollment research.
Which Medicare Advantage plans offer flex card benefits?
Many national Medicare Advantage carriers offer flex card benefits to their clients, although exact availability and the amount of money on the card will vary. Whether it’s a food/grocery card, an OTC allowance or a Flex debit card, most of the big carriers offer options with some type of extra spending allowance or benefit.
However, it might not be called a flex card. There is a chance they might have the benefit listed under a different name.
The important thing is to review what the card does instead of only focusing on the name of the card.
Here are a couple examples of carriers offering a type of flex card, but using a different name.
Aetna Medicare Extra Benefits Card
This debit card is available with select plans to those who qualify. It offers a quarterly assistance in covering over-the-counter items and support services.
Humana Spending Account Card
Some Humana Medicare Advantage plans offer a card to help pay for approved foods, over-the counter items, and out-of-pocket health care costs for covered dental, hearing and vision care. You may even be able to use it to help with utility bills, rent, or mortgage payments depending on the plan.
UnitedHealthcare’s UCard works as a rewards system to support over-the-counter, health and support costs for those who qualify. Not only does it have a flex card option, but you may also be able to earn additional points through healthy living.
Flex cards come with some Medicare Advantage plans and can provide some additional funds for health-related costs.
It is important to remember that product availability and the amount given varies drastically based on plan, eligibility, and location. No matter what Medicare Advantage plan you select or benefit you have, the most important thing you can do is be informed.
Make sure to review your plan and its benefits to ensure you understand how your unique coverage works.
If you would like to learn more about flex cards, we have a previous blog all about it. Check out Flex Card for Seniors: What It Is and Why Everyone Is Talking About It.
Medicare flex cards are not available nationwide and are currently only in some states. Medicare Allies is not affiliated with Medicare or any other government agency. We do not offer every plan available in your area. Any information we provide is limited to those plans we do offer in your area. Please contact Medicare.gov or 1-800-MEDICARE to get information on all of your options.
Schedule an Appointment on our Calendar Now
Select your preferred agent and book your appointment directly on their calendar! Your agent will call you at your selected day and time.Schedule Now
Our team of dedicated, licensed agents can help you as little or as much as you need. Whether it’s answering a few questions about Medicare or creating a comprehensive Medicare Planner with you, we are your Medicare Allies.Email Us Now