If you’ve been watching some TV or scrolling through social media channels, you may have seen some enticing posts about “Medicare flex cards” with over $2,800 to use towards groceries, clothes, gas…or anything. Does this sound too good to be true? Well it is. This is a scam.
While some private Medicare Advantage (MA) plans do offer legitimate “flex cards” for as a supplemental benefit, these cards are designed to use to cover certain medical expenses not covered by the plan. Each insurer offering a flex card sets its own terms for spending limits and permitted uses for health-related expenses. Some commonly allowed expenses include:
- Dental, vision and hearing needs
- Medical equipment, such as dentures and glasses
- Insurance copays
Flex cards are only available with certain plans; they may not be available in every state or county. Spending limits can vary based on your location and plan type.
Watch out for Medicare flex card scams
So while there are legitimate Medicare flex cards with MA plans, Medigap plans and Medicare itself do NOT offer flex cards. If you see any advertisements for “free Medicare flex cards” or flex cards offered through Original Medicare or a Medigap plan, it is most likely a scam. These scams, like the one pasted below that was advertising $2,888 Medicare food benefit, prey on older adults. In many cases, these ads direct you to a website or phone number that asks for private information: credit card numbers, Social Security numbers or bank account details that is then sold to third parties.
To avoid Medicare flex card scams, look out for these red flags, as stated in a recent news article:
- Ads that say flex cards can be used to pay for gas and groceries
Typically, flex cards are limited to medical and/or health related expenses.
- Ads that say flex cards are universally available to Medicare beneficiaries
Medicare does not issue flex cards, and they aren’t available to everyone.
- People that contact you first, without your permission
Trustworthy insurance companies typically don’t contact you until you reach out first.
- Middlemen who get paid to refer you to insurance companies
Never give personal information to someone who does not represent the company itself.
The best way to avoid Medicare flex card scams is to go directly to the insurance company. If you suspect a scam, report it to our California Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP) at 1-855-613-7080.