SilverSneakers is a fitness program for older adults that provides access to gyms, community exercise classes, and workout videos. The main goal of SilverSneakers is to promote good health through physical activity.
However, because the program involves opportunities to socialize, it can also foster good emotional and mental health.
To be eligible, a person must have a Medicare plan that includes SilverSneakers among its benefits.
This article discusses what SilverSneakers entails, which Medicare plans offer the program, and the costs. It also examines the potential health benefits of SilverSneakers and how to find a plan that includes the program.
We may use a few terms in this piece that can be helpful to understand when selecting the best insurance plan:
- Deductible: This is an annual amount that a person must spend out of pocket within a certain time period before an insurer starts to fund their treatments.
- Coinsurance: This is a percentage of a treatment cost that a person will need to self-fund. For Medicare Part B, this comes to 20%.
- Copayment: This is a fixed dollar amount that an insured person pays when receiving certain treatments. For Medicare, this usually applies to prescription drugs.
SilverSneakers is a fitness program for adults aged 65 years and older. Members have access to a network of thousands of gyms, where a person may use:
- cardio equipment, such as treadmills
- amenities, such as walking tracks and pools
- strength equipment, such as weights
Gyms may also include the following types of exercise classes:
- water aerobics
- cardio and strength classes
- tai chi
- boot camps
The SilverSneakers program does not include cover for other services and products that gyms sometimes offer, such as massages or smoothies.
Members of SilverSneakers have unlimited access to the nationwide network of gyms and classes, meaning that they may enjoy the program when traveling or use the facilities at more than one location in their hometown.
In addition to gyms, SilverSneakers gives admittance to FLEX classes, which are instructor-led activities that take place in community parks and recreation centers. People can choose from a wide range of classes, including yoga and nutritional awareness.
An online library of FLEX videos is also available. These provide information on various topics, such as:
- cardio workouts
- healthful eating
- strength training
- fall prevention
Aside from the activities that can improve physical health, the program offers a social support network.
The exercise classes provide an opportunity for members to meet and form friendships.
Many groups also plan social events, such as outings, and connect through social media platforms.
SilverSneakers is a benefit available as part of some Medicare Advantage or Medigap plans.
Medicare Advantage plans offer the same coverage as original Medicare but often provide additional benefits, such as dental or vision care.
Many Medicare Advantage plans also include SilverSneakers among their benefits.
People with original Medicare are not eligible for SilverSneakers, as the plan does not have the extra benefits of Medicare Advantage.
Some Medigap plans include SilverSneakers as one of their benefits.
Medigap is Medicare supplement insurance that helps pay out-of-pocket costs for an individual with original Medicare only.
People who have a Medicare Advantage or Medigap plan that includes SilverSneakers pay nothing to become a program member. However, the plans involve other costs.
Medicare Advantage costs
One of the out-of-pocket costs of Medicare Advantage plans is the monthly premium, which ranges from $0 to more than $100 per month, depending on the particular plan.
The plans also have deductibles, copayments, and coinsurance — all of which can vary. In addition to these expenses, a person with Medicare Advantage must pay the Part B monthly premium, which is $148.50 in 2021.
The only cost with a Medigap policy is the monthly premium that varies widely among plans and service areas. Some plan premiums are well under $100 per month, while others are several hundred dollars per month.
An exercise program also:
- strengthens the bones and muscles
- reduces the likelihood of a person developing obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers
- decreases the risk of falls and functional limitations
- increases a person’s chance of living longer
Social engagement is another lifestyle practice that plays an essential role in health. As social isolation raises the likelihood of a decline in functional abilities and severe illness, developing social relationships may reduce these risks.
A study in
The researchers found that program participants had better physical, emotional, and social health than those who did not access the program. Participants also showed fewer activity limitations.
According to the authors, the findings suggest that fitness programs for older adults may improve quality of life. They also concluded that the programs could be of value in reducing the decline of health and function associated with aging.
A person looking for a Medicare Advantage plan can use this search tool to see the options in their area.
The tool makes it easy to compare prices and see which plans offer SilverSneakers.
Most Advantage plans provide fitness benefits, so if they do not offer this specific program, they likely offer a similar one.
Getting regular exercise and maintaining a social network have positive effects on physical and emotional health.
Participating in a fitness program, such as SilverSneakers, can make it easier for a person to engage in these beneficial lifestyle practices.
Some Medicare Advantage and Medigap plans include a SilverSneakers membership, so it comes at no additional cost.