SilverSneakers is the registered name for a health and fitness program developed for people 65 years and older. It has been suggested that there are more participating fitness locations available in the United States than Starbucks locations. With over 16,000 locations, SilverSneakers gives members access to outdoor classes, gym equipment, fitness centers, online resources, as well as a catalog of on-demand workout and instructional videos.
Medicare Supplement Plan N
The Original Medicare program, which encompasses Parts A and B, leaves some gaps in coverage that Medicare recipients commonly try to fill through Medicare Supplement plans, otherwise known as Medigap policies. These plans, offered by private insurance carriers, must abide by federal and state regulations designed to protect the insured. Supplement benefits are standardized, offering identical basic benefits. Some insurance companies may offer more but cannot offer less.
Every state that offers Part N is required to include the following coverage:
- Part A coinsurance plus in-patient hospital care for up to 365 days after Medicare benefits are used.
- Part B coinsurance or copayment.
- First three pints of blood.
- Part A hospice coinsurance or copayment.
- Coinsurance for a skilled nursing facility.
- Part A deductible.
- Foreign travel emergency up to 80%.
Medicare Coverage for SilverSneakers
Though some supplement plans offer more coverage than Plan N, gym membership is not part of the basic package mandated by the government. If you are interested in a wellness program, check with Medigap insurance carriers to find out if they offer SilverSneakers in your state.
Medicare Advantage plans are more likely to offer a fitness benefit such as SilverSneakers. For example, Aetna Medicare Advantage covers a health and wellness education program as part of its PPO elite plan, though this may vary by state. This program offers written health education materials as well as health club fitness classes, including basic SilverSneakers membership at a participating fitness facility. For members who prefer home workouts or who do not live in proximity to a participating club, in-home fitness kits may be available.
Fitness for Seniors
Staying fit can affect your physical and mental wellness. Some seniors may feel too frail and fear injury, but lack of exercise only serves to expedite the aging process, and may lead to heart disease and reliance on medications. Weight training, modified as needed, is a critical component of an effective fitness program, particularly as we age. The body naturally loses muscle, and bones weaken over the years. Weight-bearing exercise can have a major impact on increasing muscle mass and improving overall health.
Consult with your doctor to understand your limitations and what activities would benefit you, not only in a physical context but from a mental and social perspective as well. Discuss any changes in your workout routine with your physician before making any changes.