The Young Men’s Christian Association, or YMCA, was founded in 1844 by George Williams, and today, the organization provides health and wellness resources and facilities to tens of millions of people across the world. Although the YMCA works with charities and human rights campaigns, it is perhaps best known in the United States for its focus on physical health. Most YMCA locations feature gyms, exercise equipment and training classes as well as shower facilities. This has made the YMCA a fantastic resource for individuals, including Medicare recipients, to not only strengthen the body and mind, but also their local communities.

The Benefits of Joining a YMCA Chapter
Aside from offering access to exercise equipment, the YMCA is also known to work with individuals, families, business owners, non-profit organizations and more to improve neighborhoods. Many YMCA chapters will work locally to empower and encourage others to give back through volunteer work. Many YMCA chapters will also provide education classes that encourage healthy living, and these classes are usually designed with specific age groups in mind. Many seniors and other individuals who qualify for Medicare benefits also find that the YMCA offers a social outlet where friends can gather and share in healthy fellowship. It should be noted that, although the YMCA organization was built on principles found in the Christian faith, there is no religious affiliation requirement to join a YMCA or utilize its services.

Does Medicare Cover YMCA Membership?
Unfortunately, Original Medicare does not cover YMCA membership or membership to a traditional for-profit gym. The Medicare program excludes weight loss supplements and programs from its coverage because these are typically viewed as lifestyle choices and are not considered to be directly related to treating illness. It may be possible for Medicare recipients to have exercise therapy covered as a cost of rehabilitation after a surgical procedure or while recuperating from an illness; however, this will need to be undertaken pursuant to a doctor’s orders in a skilled nursing facility or as part of an outpatient treatment program. Seeking out exercise facilities or training classes on your own will result in a rejected claim from Original Medicare.

Do Medicare Advantage Plans Offer Benefits?
If you have a Medicare Advantage plan, you may be able to receive direct benefits for YMCA membership or receive reimbursement for out-of-pocket expenses for YMCA membership or services. Medicare Advantage plans often provide additional benefits in addition to the Part A and Part B coverage offered by Original Medicare, including vision and dental care. In some cases, your insurance provider will offer memberships or membership discounts to places like the YMCA because overall wellness of beneficiaries reduces the burden of cost on the provider over time. To learn more about your options, contact your Medicare Advantage directly.

Living a Healthy Life Without a YMCA Membership
It’s important to maximize your physical health through regular exercise. If you don’t have access to a YMCA or fitness center, small choices can make a difference.  For instance, taking the stairs instead of the elevator can produce health benefits over time as small physical activities keep the body flexible, strong and lean. Your diet can affect your overall health, and dietary needs may change with age or due to certain medical conditions or restrictions.

As a result, you should always discuss your unique healthcare situation with your physician prior to beginning any type of self-guided exercise routine or major shift in diet, including the introduction of nutritional supplements. By working with your physician, you stand a better chance of improving your health and mitigating the potential for negative health consequences that may come along with exceeding exercise limitations or dietary restrictions.

Related articles:

What is the Medicare Annual Election Period (AEP)?

New to Medicare