Did President Joe Biden say there's now a $2,880 Medicare flexible spending card for all American seniors over the age of 64? No, that's not true: Biden did not make an announcement about a Medicare flexible spending card on any official White House accounts. A spokesperson for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services told Lead Stories the link that claims to provide the flex card did not come from their organization.
The claim appeared in a post (archived here) on Facebook on October 30, 2023. The caption was "Huge relief for Seniors! Those over the age of 64 can now claim a $2880 flexible spending card through a Medicare Advantage plan!" Its video opened with a voice that sounded like that of Biden saying:
Would $2,880 help you pay for your everyday expenses like rent, groceries and bills? Because of the economy we just passed this legislation to get Medicare flexible spending cards into the hand of American seniors over the age of 64. All you have to do is call our Medicare help centers to find out how you can claim your flex card.
This is what the post looked like on Facebook at the time of writing:
(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Thu Nov 2 20:33:36 2023 UTC)
A spokesperson for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), the federal agency that runs Medicare, told Lead Stories via email on November 3, 2023, that the link in the Facebook post "did not come from CMS," but they noted that "it is possible that a plan is offering such a benefit as a special supplemental benefit":
Beginning in 2020, Medicare Advantage (MA) plans (plans offered by Medicare-approved private companies that must follow rules set by Medicare) are able to offer special supplemental benefits for the chronically ill. These special supplemental benefits may include benefits, such as, food and produce when they are provided to chronically ill enrollees and the benefits have a reasonable expectation of improving or maintaining the health or overall function of the chronically ill enrollee.
The spokesperson explained the MA plans "may utilize a debit card as a tool in administering supplemental benefits and/or to reduce enrollee cost sharing on covered benefits," and that these cards may be called "spending cards for FlexCards."
The post offers a link that goes to a website, govmedplan.com (archived here), that only has a homepage. Above an image of a Visa card, the page's headline declares, "$2,800 'Flex Card' Is Now Available." When clicked, a green button that invites site visitors to "Check Your Eligibility & Claim Your Benefit Here" leads to an error message.
The page formerly listed only a Florida phone number. In a series of questions, the person who answered the phone asked for either a Medicare number or Social Security number to supposedly verify eligibility for the flex card.
An insurance brokerage that offers Medicare plans explained on its website that Medicare is not giving out free flex cards:
Truthfully, Medicare as a federal program is not distributing a flex card for seniors. Thus, these cards are not part of the government-run program.
Private Medicare Advantage plans distribute the cards in these ads - not Original Medicare. So, many legitimate insurance companies offer this benefit. However, they all require beneficiaries to pick up their Medicare Advantage plans.
Flex cards are debit cards that beneficiaries can use to purchase medical equipment and necessary items. Typically linked to a flexible spending account, these cards are a benefit linked to qualifying health plans throughout the nation.
Lead Stories also searched the official White House social media accounts (X, Instagram, YouTube and Facebook) to see if President Biden had announced such a flex card, as the video posted on Facebook indicates. As of November 3, 2023, the president had not shared such endorsements or videos on these accounts.
The image in the post is made to look like a news report from CNN with a headline that reads, "Biden approves Flex Card For Seniors 64+, Deadline Friday." A Google search (archived here) of the CNN site with that headline yielded zero results. A Google search (archived here) for Joe Biden and the keywords "would $2,880 help you pay for your everyday expenses like rent, groceries and bills," also yielded no matches, as of November 3, 2023.
Given the timing of the post, it is apparent that online scammers may be taking advantage of the November 1 - December 15, 2023, open-enrollment period for health insurance provided through the Affordable Care Act.
Lead Stories has explored similar scams before in the fact checks found here.