Staying in shape is important at any age, but it’s especially important when you start to age. One easy way to accomplish this is to go to the gym. But this can get expensive, especially if you don’t use it a lot. Does Original Medicare or Medigap coverage include gym memberships? We’ll reveal the answer below.
Does Original Medicare Cover Gym Memberships?
Unfortunately, gym memberships are not on the list of covered expenses under Original Medicare. It won’t cover fitness program fees or gym memberships. This means you pay 100% of the costs associated with it if you plan to get a gym or fitness program membership. However, you may be able to get help with some of the costs if you have a specific Medicare Supplement policy.
How Medicare May Cover Gym Memberships
Plan G may cover certain gym memberships, but Plan G plans have been scaling back on covering gym memberships due to lack of use.
However, people who have enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans can have access to gym membership coverage under a specific program. To date, United Healthcare, Humana, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Aetna, Gateway, Coventry, and WellCare all participate in a senior-specific gym membership program called Silver Sneakers in most states. United Healthcare is scaling back their coverage in certain states due to non-use, but it’s still available in some places.
The SilverSneakers Program
The program that many Medicare Advantage plans include in their coverage is SilverSneakers. This program doesn’t cost anything extra for policyholders, and they pay for it when they pay their deductibles or premiums each year or each month.
SilverSneakers is a gym membership and fitness membership organization aimed at people 65 and up. There are over 13,000 locations spread throughout the country, and it partners with some Medicare Advantage plans to offer unlimited gym access. Along with unlimited gym access, participants get free fitness classes located in the gym and outside that cater to all experience levels.
To date, there are over 60 health plans that partnered directly with SilverSneakers to offer this service. Some Medigap plans include Silver Sneakers as well, but you’d have to contact your specific company and ask about this benefit.
SilverSneakers also sponsors social events and activities to get people out with people their own age and socializing. Along with helping seniors lose weight and stay physically healthy, it connects participants to other people in their fitness classes. In turn, this can improve your quality of life.
When you find a plan that offers SilverSneakers and a facility that participates in it, you get access to all the amenities the facility offers at their basic level. Every location that offers SilverSneakers has an adviser. This adviser introduces newcomers to the program and helps you find what works best for your abilities. You can participate in fitness-related events and health education seminars.
SilverSneakers is one of the few benefits that Medicare Supplement plans can offer at no additional cost to the policyholder. If you find a plan and a location, you’ll get a card or a 16-digit code from your health insurance company. This will prove you’re in the program, and it’ll give you access to the fitness facility. The facility will also give you a card.
It’s important that you compare insurance rates, and don’t pick one solely because it offers this program. Instead, find the insurance program that works best with your lifestyle, and go from there.