Here’s 7 Facts You Should Know About The Flex Card For Seniors

Once a person becomes a senior, they often get access to a variety of programs designed to make retirement easier to manage. One such option is the Flex Card for seniors, a service that can give seniors funds to use for eligible expenses, such as healthcare costs. But there are a few critical details people should review before signing up. If you’re wondering, “What is the truth about the Flex Card for seniors?” here are seven facts you should know.

1. The Flex Card Is Not a Government Program

At times, the Flex Card for seniors is referred to as the Medicare Flex Card. As a result, some may assume that the Flex Card program is run by the United States government. However, that isn’t the case. Instead, the Flex Card is something Medicare Advantage plans may offer, and those plans are operated by private insurers.

Ultimately, seniors enrolled in original Medicare aren’t eligible to receive the Flex Card, as it’s not part of their insurance plan and it isn’t a government program. Instead, only seniors signed up for Medicare Advantage plans that offer the Flex Card can access one.

2. Rules for Using a Flex Card (and Amounts on Them) Vary

Since Flex Cards are issued by individual insurers, rules about their use and the total amount provided on them can vary. Each company can set up its Flex Card program differently. For example, one company may offer a Flex Card that provides seniors with $200 for out-of-pocket medical expenses each quarter. A different insurer may offer more money, and some companies may allow those funds to be spent on healthy foods or other permitted expenses along with healthcare costs.

Additionally, the Flex Card may have different requirements, limits, or dollar values based on the particular plan a senior signs up for through that insurer. Finally, companies may limit access to specific seniors, causing some who sign up for the same plan to receive the benefit while others don’t. For instance, insurers may restrict participation in the Flex Card program based on the state in which a senior lives.

3. Extra Benefits May Need to Medically Necessary

In some cases, when a Medicare Advantage plan has a Flex Card that can be used for a wider array of expenses, seniors have to get approved for those additional services. At times, that means proving that the cost category is considered medically necessary.

Proving an available service is medically necessary typically means presenting formal documentation from a healthcare provider. Once that’s collected, seniors or their medical provider can submit the paperwork through the appropriate channels, and if approved, the extra services become available based on what’s outlined in the plan documentation.

4. Flex Card Use Is Limited to Specific Retailers

While a Flex Card can cover the cost of over-the-counter health items, prescription medications, and other products commonly purchased in retail stores, Flex Card users may not be able to use just any retailer to buy those items. Many Flex Card programs have a list of participating retailers, pharmacies, or providers that accept the insurer’s Flex Card as a form of payment. If a senior tries to use the card elsewhere, it won’t go through, regardless of the amount of money available or whether the purchase includes permitted items.

As a result, seniors need to review the list of participating retailers, pharmacies, and providers before signing up for a program specifically because it offers a Flex Card. That way, they can confirm that there are locations they’re comfortable using on the list.

5. Flex Cards Work Like Debit Cards

Using a Flex Card at a participating retailer, pharmacy, or provider office is incredibly straightforward. After letting the cashier know that they’re using a Flex Card, seniors simply swipe the card like a debit card and follow any on-screen prompts to complete the purchase.

During processing, the Flex Card will cover eligible expenses up to the dollar amount limit associated with the card or the cost category. If there’s still a balance due, seniors can then use an alternative payment method – such as their bank-issued debit card – to cover the difference.

6. Unused Funds May Not Roll Over

When a senior has unused funds on their Flex Card, they may hope that they’ll roll over to the next period. However, that isn’t something that always happens. Some Flex Card programs may allow for a limited-time rollover, giving them a little extra time to use the money. Others don’t support rollovers at all, so the funds simply aren’t available once the term they’re associated with ends.

Seniors need to check their plan details carefully to determine whether rollovers are part of their Flex Card program or not. Then, they can make sure that they use their benefits with the expiration dates in mind.

7. Flex Card Scams Do Exist

While a Flex Card issued by a reputable insurer is typically legit, there are also Medicare Flex Card scams out there. One red flag of a scam is any entity claiming that the Flex Card program is operated by the government, as it’s not a government program. Additionally, labeling the Flex Card funds as “free money” is a warning sign of a scam.

Receiving an unsolicited offer via phone, text, or email about a Flex Card is something that should also give seniors pause, as reputable companies won’t typically contact anyone unless the contacted person reaches out to them first. Promising the senior is eligible without ever speaking with them is also a red flag.

Ultimately, seniors need to do some due diligence before signing up for a Flex Card. They need to research reputable Medicare Advantage plan providers, as well as check out the plan details to see how the insurer’s Flex Card program works and whether it’s worthwhile. That way, seniors can make smart decisions about their finances, ensuring they’re in the best position possible.

Do you think that the Flex Card for seniors is a good option? Why or why not? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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Tamila McDonald

Tamila McDonald has worked as a Financial Advisor for the military for past 13 years. She has taught Personal Financial classes on every subject from credit, to life insurance, as well as all other aspects of financial management. Mrs. McDonald is a former AFCPE Accredited Financial Counselor and has helped her clients to meet their short-term and long-term financial goals.

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