Staying active is crucial as we get older. Activity helps maintain good health and overall well-being. It helps prevent and manage chronic conditions and can boost your mood, mental health, balance, and mobility while reducing the risk of falls and injuries.
If you’re on Medicare, you may wonder if gym memberships and fitness programs are covered. Medicare typically does not cover gym memberships as part of its standard benefits. However, there are some circumstances in which you may be able to get free or low-cost gym memberships with Medicare.
Original Medicare and Gym Memberships
Original Medicare is the traditional health insurance program for those 65 and older or with qualifying disabilities or health conditions. The federal government manages it and consists of two parts: A and B.
Part A covers hospital care, skilled nursing facility care, hospice care, and home health care. The great news is that Part A is usually premium-free if you or your spouse have paid Medicare taxes for at least ten years.
Now, let’s talk about Part B. Part B covers doctor visits, outpatient services, preventive care, lab tests, X-rays, mental health services, and durable medical equipment. But here’s the thing: Original Medicare doesn’t cover gym memberships or fitness programs. Why? They classify these as non-medical services that aren’t necessary for diagnosing or treating a medical condition. Medicare focuses on covering services that are reasonable and necessary for your health.
So, unfortunately, Original Medicare won’t foot the bill for gym memberships. But don’t worry, there are other options to explore!
Some Medicare Advantage plans, also known as Part C plans, offer additional benefits that may include gym memberships or fitness programs. Private insurance companies approved by Medicare offer these plans.
Depending on your plan, you might have access to fitness classes, exercise equipment, and other wellness services at participating gyms or fitness centers. Remember that not all Medicare Advantage plans offer this benefit, so you’ll need to check with your specific plan to see if it offers gym membership coverage.
Some examples of fitness programs or gym memberships covered by Medicare Advantage plans include:
- SilverSneakers: This is a popular fitness program for seniors offering access to more than 15,000 fitness locations, online classes, videos, and personalized guidance from instructors. Silver Sneakers classes usually consist of low-impact aerobics, strength training, and yoga.
- Silver & Fit: Also offers access to more than 18,000 fitness locations, online classes, and videos. Compared to SilverSneakers, Silver and Fit classes might be more varied and challenging, including kickboxing, dance, and circuit training. In addition, Silver & Fit also offers a home fitness kit, including exercise equipment and DVDs. Silver and Fit also offers a rewards program for healthy activities.
To enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan that covers gym memberships or fitness programs, you need to have both Part A and Part B, live in that plan’s service area, and be a U.S. citizen or lawfully present in the U.S.
You can sign up for a Medicare Advantage plan during specific enrollment periods, such as when you become eligible for Medicare or during the annual open enrollment period, which runs from October 15 to December 7 every year. The Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment period runs from January 1 to March 31 every year. You can compare plans using the Medicare Plan Finder tool, which allows you to enter your zip code, medications, and quality ratings.
Consider the following factors when choosing a Medicare Advantage plan:
- The cost of the plan, including premium, deductible, copayment, coinsurance, as well as out-of-pocket expenses.
- Plan coverage, including benefits, services, and prescriptions.
- Plan network, including doctors, hospitals, pharmacies, and other providers, as well as the cost of coverage for out-of-network services.
- Plan quality, including customer service, member satisfaction, and performance ratings.
Medicare Supplement and Gym Memberships
Medicare Supplement, or Medigap, is a private insurance covering costs that Original Medicare doesn’t, such as deductibles, coinsurance, and copayments. It’s important to note that Medicare Supplement plans work alongside Original Medicare, so you’ll need both Part A and B to be eligible.
These additional benefits vary depending on the plan, insurance company, and the state you live in. For example, some Medicare Supplement plans offer discounts or access to vision, dental, or hearing services. While Medicare supplement plans don’t typically cover gym memberships or fitness programs, you may be able to access fitness programs with the money you save through Medigap.
While Original Medicare doesn’t cover gym memberships or fitness programs, some Medicare Advantage or Medicare Supplement plans offer these benefits as extra perks. To find the right plan, compare different options and their benefits. Check if the plan covers your preferred gym or fitness program and understand eligibility requirements and limitations. You can use the Medicare Plan Finder tool or contact 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) for assistance with comparing and enrolling in these plans.