How Can I Get a Free Gym Membership with Medicare?
Foreward from Denise Austin
40-Year Fitness Icon
Creator of Fit Over 50 Magazine
Being at the gym is my happy place. I’m my best after a great workout. That massive rush of endorphins, plus knowing that my body is getting healthier is an incredible feeling. That’s why I highly recommend getting a gym membership, especially if it’s available through your health insurance plan. My friends at Ensurem have created this helpful guide on how you can get a free gym membership with your Medicare plan.
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.
Medicare Advantage Plan Options
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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 agent at the number on this page. Ensurem is here to help!
Note Sure Which Questions You Should Ask to Get the Conversation Started? Here is a list that can help. Choose a question that applies best to you.
- Does Medicare cover gym memberships and fitness programs?
- Can I get a free gym membership through my Medicare plan?
- Do any Medicare plans offer fitness benefits such as gym memberships or fitness classes?
- How do private insurance companies that work with Medicare handle gym memberships and fitness benefits?
- Are there any fitness resources available for older adults through Medicare?
- Can a fitness program designed for my specific health needs be covered by Medicare?
- Do Medigap plans or other Medicare health plans cover gym memberships or fitness classes?
- Are there online resources where I can learn more about fitness benefits under Medicare?
- What extra benefits do Medicare Advantage members receive related to fitness and wellness?
- Does Medicare cover weight loss programs or nutrition therapy if recommended by a doctor?
- Is a fitness center membership considered a non-covered service under Original Medicare services?
- What are my Medicare coverage options if my primary health insurance plan doesn’t cover a gym membership?
- Are there wellness benefits or wellness programs included in Medicare plans?
- How does my body mass index or a medical diagnosis influence what fitness benefits Medicare covers?
- Do any Medicare supplement plans cover fitness classes or memberships at local gyms?
- Does Medicare Part B or Part D cover gym memberships and fitness programs?
- Are walking programs or other physical health initiatives covered by Medicare?
- If Medicare does not cover gym memberships, can insurance companies provide extra coverage for this?
- Does disease control or prevention play a role in what fitness plans Medicare covers?
- Can I use Medicare to cover a local gym membership or are these considered non-covered services?
- Can I get a free gym membership if I have a specific Medicare Part or supplement plan?
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.
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.
Denise Austin, 65, Ensurem Ambassador
Best-Selling Author, Creator of Fit Over 50 Magazine
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