Original Medicare does not provide coverage for gym memberships or fitness classes. However, some other parts of Medicare may offer a benefit for certain fitness programs.
Physical fitness and movement are important for a person to stay healthy, and many gyms have designed programs specifically for helping older adults be more active.
In this article, we discuss how to cover the cost of a gym membership and programs for mental and physical fitness.
Original Medicare parts A and B do not cover gym memberships because they do not consider these services to be medically necessary. Under original Medicare, a person is responsible for 100% of the cost of fitness programs and memberships.
Medicare Part C, or Medicare Advantage, may include coverage for some fitness programs and gym memberships.
Private insurance companies administer Medicare Advantage plans, and they must follow Medicare rules, offering all services from Medicare parts A and B.
However, they may also include additional benefits, such as:
- eye care
- hearing care
- dental care
- prescription drug plans
Not all Medicare Advantage plans offer the same coverage, so a person may want to check with their plan provider to confirm available benefits.
Medicare Advantage plans differ by company and location, and a person may only enroll in plans available where they live. The Medicare website offers a search tool that a person may use to search plan availability in their zip code.
The tool will first ask several questions to ensure the results display plans that meet a person’s needs.
Each plan shown will have many of its benefits listed under “plan details,” but fitness benefits may display in the “more benefits” section.
A plan may not list fitness coverage, but a person can call the plan provider on the telephone number listed in the contact information to confirm.
Some Medigap plans, also known as Medicare Supplement Insurance, offer gym memberships and fitness benefits.
Like Medicare Advantage, private insurance companies administer Medigap policies, and a similar online search option is available.
A person who already has a Medigap plan can call their plan provider to find out if they have coverage for gym memberships or fitness programs.
Each Medicare Advantage program may have different rules and restrictions based on the policy purchased. Plan options may differ even within the same area.
A person with a Medicare Advantage plan may contact their plan provider for specific information on rules and restrictions, but they may include:
- having to use specific gyms
- registering for particular fitness classes
- visiting gyms and fitness centers during specified times
Using a gym or following a fitness program can help improve a person’s overall health. This can also help lower healthcare costs.
Some Medicare Advantage plans have their own fitness programs.
These are rewards programs offered by some Medicare Advantage plans. These give certain rewards for completing activities throughout the year.
Pronounced “SeniorFIT,” this is a program offered by Aetna, giving a person two wellness plans, two meal plans, and an online coach.
Renew Active is a benefit offered by UnitedHealthcare and AARP. The program includes a gym membership, an online program to help with mental acuity, and access to events sponsored by UnitedHealthcare.
SilverSneakers is a fitness program offered by many fitness facilities throughout the United States.
Some Medicare Advantage and Medigap plans cover membership that includes:
- access to around 15,000 participating gyms
- classes for all fitness levels
- advice from trained instructors
- SilverSneakers on-demand videos
- a mobile app to track and schedule activities
One study found that using the SilverSneakers plan improved the quality of life for older adults.
Silver&Fit is another fitness program covered by some Medicare Advantage plans.
The program offers access to local gyms and fitness services at YMCAs, where a person can access heart and strength training and amenities such as swimming pools, saunas, and whirlpools.
Medicare Advantage plans may also include access to the Silver&Fit Home Fitness programs, in which an individual can choose to have two fitness kits mailed to their home each benefit year.
A person cannot enroll in a fitness center and the home fitness program at the same time.
Other private insurers may offer different fitness programs, so a person may find it beneficial to research all options.
Original Medicare does not pay for gym memberships or fitness programs, but Medicare Advantage and Medigap plans may offer these benefits.
Private companies administer Medicare Advantage plans and Medigap, but benefits differ in each plan.
A person can check if their policy covers gym memberships by calling their plan provider.
Some Medicare Advantage and Medigap plans offer membership with SilverSneakers or Silver&Fit. These are fitness programs specifically designed with older adults in mind.
A person can compare the fitness benefits available to them by searching for a Medicare Advantage or Medigap plan on the Medicare website.
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