How Can I Get a Free Gym Membership with Medicare?
Physical fitness is a major component of your overall health. If you’re a Medicare enrollee, you’re probably wondering whether your benefits include a free gym membership. It might surprise you to learn that Medicare alone doesn’t cover much in this regard. You do have other options though. Let’s break them down.
What You’ll Learn:
|Why Does Physical Fitness Matter So Much?||Jump to|
|What Gym Memberships or Fitness Programs|
Do Medicare Plans Cover?
|Medicare Advantage Plan Options||Jump to|
|Medicare Supplement Insurance Options||Jump to|
Why Does Physical Fitness Matter So Much?
Physical fitness affects every part of your health. According to the California Centers for Disease Control, physical activity can reduce disease risk, strengthen bones and muscles, help manage weight, and improve your ability to participate in daily tasks.i
Those with chronic conditions such as diabetes, arthritis, and obesity will likely see an improvement in their health when taking on physical activity. This doesn’t have to mean running a marathon. Even a moderate amount of activity will help improve your condition over time.
What Gym Memberships or Fitness Programs Do Medicare Plans Cover?
Original Medicare (Part A and Part B) does not cover fitness plans or gym memberships, though it does cover many health-related efforts such as diabetes prevention, nutrition therapy, and weight-loss surgeries. Under Original Medicare, you must pay 100% for non-covered services, which include gyms and fitness programs.
However, other Medicare options help cover gym memberships or fitness programs such as SilverSneakers, which itself provides free access to programs for adults age 65 years or older.
Obesity treatments are one major component of Medicare offerings. With 42% of U.S. adults considered obeseii, the risks of heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes along with mobility issues, chronic pain, and depression or anxiety are heightened. The National Council on Aging reports that total obesity-related federal spending is estimated at $91.6 billion per year – nearly a third of Medicare costs.iii
These numbers are among those that spurred the Medicare Part B program’s Intensive Behavioral Therapy for Obesity initiativeiv, through which enrollees with a Body Mass Index of 30 or more can get screenings and counseling at no cost. These may include:
- A beginning assessment to determine BMI
- A nutritional evaluation
- Ongoing counseling to encourage weight loss through diet and exercise
- One face-to-face visit every week for the first month
- One face-to-face visit every other week for the second through sixth month
- One face-to-visit monthly for the seventh to twelfth month provided the enrollee meets weight-loss requirements
In addition to gym memberships and fitness resources, Medicare Advantage may also cover a limited amount of healthy home meal delivery. In severe cases (a BMI of 35 or above) Medicare covers bariatric surgery if deemed to be medically necessary.
Medicare does not cover weight-loss programs, long-term use of meal delivery services or cosmetic procedures.
Get Our Free Guide
Enter your email address to receive a comprehensive guide to tackling Medicare with foreword from best-selling author and creator of Fit Over 50 Magazine, Denise Austin.
Medicare Advantage Plan Options
Many Medicare Advantage Plans (privately sold policies that are also known as Part C) cover fitness initiatives – these have grown substantially from when they were first introduced in the early 2000sv. Today the great majority of individual plans (97%) have some provision for fitness.vi
- SilverSneakers, a senior-focused health and fitness program that offers in-person and virtual fitness classes at nearly 16,000 gyms and community centers nationwide
- Renew Active, a United Healthcare program similar to SilverSneakers that also provides a session with a personal trainer
- Silver & Fit, which connects enrollees to local gyms as well as virtual classes and home fitness kits
The extent to which these benefits are offered depends on:
- Your provider
- Your location
- The service you’ve chosen for your plan
- Your coverage budget
These programs tend to be widely available and tailored to older adults. They offer a wide variety of online resources, including apps and virtual at-home workouts for those who aren’t close to a participating gym or may be reluctant or unable to travel to a gym.
Some carriers also offer an allowance that can be used to pay for any gym membership. For example, you may get a $150 annual stipend for this cause.
Medicare Supplement Insurance Options
Medicare Supplement Insurance, also known as Medigap, covers gym memberships and fitness programs less frequently than Medicare Advantage. Medigap is privately sold insurance that helps bridge the gaps in coverage between Original Medicare and your health care costs, including coinsurance, copays, and deductibles.
While some Medigap plans cover fitness classes and programs, it is not considered one of the 9 standard Medigap benefits. Therefore, it’s completely up to the insurance carrier to offer it. So, it pays to compare plans carefully before enrolling so you don’t end up with a policy that doesn’t address these.
The Bottom Line
While you can’t get a free gym membership from Original Medicare, Medicare Advantage may be an apt place to turn if you’re looking for coverage for fitness classes and programs. While Medigap is a little less likely to cover your fitness initiatives, it’s worth investigating for plans that may provide funds.
Looking to compare? Call a licensed Ensurem agent at the number on this page. We’re here to help!
iCalifornia Centers for Disease Control, “Benefits of Physical Activity.” Accesssed April 29, 2022.
iiNational Council on Aging, “Obesity Treatment and Medicare: A Guide to Understanding Coverage.” Accessed April 29, 2022.
iiiNational Council on Aging, “Obesity Treatment and Medicare: A Guide to Understanding Coverage.” AccessedApril 29, 2022.
ivCenters for Medicare and Medicaid Services, “Intensive Behavioral Therapy for Obesity.” Accessed April 29, 2022.
vNew England Journal of Medicine, “Fitness Memberships and Favorable Selection in Medicare Advantage Plans.” Accessed April 29, 2022.
viKFF.org. “Medicare Advantage 2022 Spotlight: First Look.” Accessed April 29, 2022.
Ensurem Trusted Expertise
Education is crucial in finding the right Medicare solution for you. With so many Medicare resources out there, it can be difficult finding a source you can trust. That’s why Ensurem has a Compliance Program dedicated to ensuring our Medicare content meets Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) regulations. So, you can rest assured you’re getting the information you need to make the right coverage decisions.
Denise Austin, 65, Ensurem Ambassador
Best-Selling Author, Creator of Fit Over 50 Magazine
Join Our Community
Sign up to receive tips, articles, videos and more to help you live your best life. Community member also get access to exclusive content from Denise Austin!
Enroll Your Way
Shop and enroll on your own time with Emma
Have our virtual assistant, Emma, guide you through the Medicare plan selection and enrollment process.
Shop and enroll over the phone with an agent
Speak with one of our licensed insurance agents who can guide you through the Medicare plan selection and enrollment process.