Got questions about the $2,880 flex card for seniors? You’re not alone! We’ve had countless people reach out to us, asking if this is a legitimate offer or a terrible scam.
In this article, we’re going to answer your most important questions, including:
- Are the flex card for seniors legitimate or a scam?
- Why do so many people try to scam seniors?
- How can you protect yourself from scammers and bad actors?
- How can you get a real flex card?
Let’s get started.
What is a Seniors Flex Card?
Starting in late summer 2021, advertisements started to appear everywhere offering a senior flex card. Depending on the advertisement, some claimed these cards could be worth $2,880 or more!
However, these advertisements were not very clear on what a flex card actually is. In fact, many of the advertisements were downright deceptive and implied that the seniors flex card was basically free money that all seniors could get. That’s not accurate at all.
What is a flex card?
Flex cards are tied to health insurance, and these flex card for seniors are actually a health insurance marketing tactic designed to lure seniors into switching to specific Medicare Advantage plans.
Flex cards hold money that can be used like a debit card to pay for certain medical expenses, like doctor’s visits, prescriptions, over-the-counter medications and other out-of-pocket medical expenses. In some cases, you can use your card to purchase healthy groceries at participating stores as well. You can even add a flex card to your Amazon account for eligible purchases.
However, you can’t just spend flex card money on anything. Just like there are only certain items that can be purchased with an EBT card, there are only certain items that can be purchased with a Flex card as well.
What does a flex card pay for?
According to Healthcare.gov, a flex card can be used to pay for certain out-of-pocket health care costs. These costs may include:
- Prescription medications
- Over-the-counter medications
- Medical equipment (crutches, etc.)
- First aid equipment (bandages, etc.)
- Diagnostic devices (blood sugar test kits, etc.)
- Eye exams, glasses and/or contacts
- Dental care
- Hearing aids
- and more!
Who qualifies for the flex card?
Flex cards are typically offered alongside health insurance plans. In order to qualify for a flex card, you must qualify for a health insurance plan with a flexible spending account.
The flex card for seniors offer is typically tied to a Medicare Advantage plan. These are optional plans that bundle various parts of Medicare and other services into health care packages especially designed for seniors.
Is the flex card real?
I was able to identify many flex cards from legitimate insurers like Humana and Amerigroup, but I could not find any that offered as much money as the advertisements claimed. The largest legitimate flex plan I found included a $1,000 flex card and a $50 monthly debit card for other out-of-pocket costs, for a total of $1,600 per year. That’s far less than the $2,880 that I originally saw advertised.
Ultimately, the amount of money that you may be able to receive on a flex card varies depending on where you live and what plan you select. Many of the flex card offers I found were only available for enrollees in specific states.
Even if you are eligible, it’s important to evaluate any Medicare Advantage plan very carefully. Although the flex card is an enticing offer, you need to make sure that you aren’t sacrificing other precious health care benefits to get it. If you don’t read the fine print carefully, you may end up paying the price in other areas of your plan.
Why are there so many Medicare scams?
Scammers love Medicare open enrollment season. Historically, the open enrollment period between October and December is a prime time for scammers who want to prey on seniors because this is when seniors can change their health care plans. Seniors expect to have to provide sensitive personal information, like their name, Social Security Number, Medicare information and even bank information during this process, so it’s even easier than usual for scammers to get this information.
Even aside from that, there are also many websites that have affiliate relationships with various Medicare Advantage providers, which means they get a commission if they can lure you into a sale. Although they aren’t technically scammers, some of them don’t mind playing dirty and being deceptive in their advertising.
Health insurance is complicated enough without worrying about these bad actors, but it’s something we have to always be vigilant about.
How can you protect yourself from Medicare scams?
The whole point of the flex card for seniors is to lure seniors into enrolling in new Medicare Advantage plans while it’s open enrollment season. As you may know from our previous video on Medicare benefits, Medicare has many parts and is very complicated. Medicare Advantage insurers make it a little easier by bundling all the benefits together and often packaging additional benefits into their plans. However, the costs for these plans vary and not all seniors are eligible for them.
Health care is confusing – and it’s too important to make mistakes on. When people advertise things like this, it’s usually because they have a financial interest in getting you to sign up. It can be almost impossible to differentiate between the paid agents and the legitimate unbiased experts.
Do not provide your personal information online.
As a general rule, you should never provide your sensitive personal information online to unknown organizations. Never give out your name, address, Medicare number, Social Security number, bank information or other identifying details to someone who claims to be a Medicare sales representative. If they approach you or contact you first, do not engage. Most legitimate organizations require you to reach out first; they won’t contact you unsolicited. If someone reaches out to you and then asks for your personal information, that’s a big red flag. Don’t fall for it.
There are many legitimate-looking websites that are just trying to phish your information. Be careful what you click on and always read the fine print. On many of the sites advertising the flex card for seniors, you’ll find a warning like this: “Please be aware that this is an advertisement and not an actual news article, blog, or consumer protection update. (The website) may receive paid compensation for clicks or sales produced from the content found on this webpage.”
If you give that site your personal information, they are likely going to sell it for profit. You will probably get a lot of phone calls and contact from insurance companies that have paid for your information. At best, it will be annoying. At worst, it could result in you being scammed. It’s very important to be careful with where you put your information online.
Avoid taking advice from people who have a financial interest in your purchase.
It’s not just online that you have to be careful, either. You also have to be wary of in-person advisors with an agenda. Be especially careful with people who approach you without you asking or who push particular plans.
In our community, we have a so-called advisor who lurks around our local food banks. He is what is known as a “captive agent” because he only works with one insurer – in this case, it’s United Healthcare. He does not make any commission on any other plans, so he steers everyone toward United Healthcare even if it isn’t in their best interests.
If you must work with someone who has a financial interest in getting you to sign up, then at least make sure they offer plans from many different providers so that you’re more likely to get a good fit. Independent agents work with a wide variety of providers, whereas captive agents work with only one or two providers. Avoid captive agents whenever possible.
Reach out to find a trustworthy, unbiased Medicare counselor.
In my experience, the best way to find a trustworthy Medicare counselor is to reach out to your local Area Agency on Aging. Many states have a Health Insurance Counseling and Advocacy Program that can assist you in navigating these complex benefits.
You can also contact Medicare directly via 1-800-Medicare or by online chat at Medicare.gov.
You should always consult with a knowledgeable, unbiased Medicare advisor before making significant changes to your health care coverage. You may find out that the flex card for seniors is just a distraction from damaging fine print that would put you in a far worse financial situation overall.