Can You Get a Medicare Plan that Covers Fitness Programs?


There are so many reasons to get and stay fit, especially as you grow older. A healthy, active lifestyle helps you bounce back easier from an illness, and it helps you better manage chronic diseases like diabetes or arthritis. If you’re joining the ranks of Medicare for the first time this year or you’re trying to do your due diligence to find out all that Medicare has to offer, asking about fitness programs and whether or not they’re covered is a pretty smart place to start.

Does Original Medicare Cover Fitness Programs?

In a word, no. Original Medicare, the Part A and Part B covered by your red, white and blue Medicare card, provides insurance coverage under two basic categories. Part A is the hospitalization portion of Medicare, while Part B is the portion that addresses medical insurance for doctors and other health care provider services. With original Medicare, you’re responsible for coinsurance, copays and deductibles. And there’s no yearly cap on out-of-pocket costs.

There’s also Medicare Part D, which is not covered under original Medicare. Part D plans, offered through private insurers, help Medicare recipients with the cost of prescription drugs. How much the plans cost and the drugs they cover vary from insurer to insurer.

SEE MORE: How to Get in Shape the Healthy Way


A, B, … D. Aren’t we missing a letter?

Ah, you noticed! And it’s the perfect segue to a discussion about Medicare Part C, better known as Medicare Advantage Plans. Depending on the plan, it is these that may cover fitness programs.

What are Medicare Advantage Plans?

Like Medicare Part D, Medicare Advantage Plans are plans offered through private insurers. If you’ve ever seen television commercials for Medicare Advantage Plans, you’ve probably noticed they always ask for your zip code. That’s because the coverage offered under these plans varies by zip code.

In general, Medicare Advantage Plans provide everything in Medicare Part A and B, and most provide prescription drug coverage. From there, however, the coverages can vary greatly. Some offer hearing, dental or vision coverage. Some offer grocery discounts and meal delivery programs. Some offer a set dollar amount of free over-the-counter health care items like vitamins, painkillers and ointments. And more. In addition, some have no upfront monthly premium costs, while some do. It all depends on the plan.

Do Medicare Advantage Plans Offer Fitness Programs?

The good news is that among the many offerings of Medicare Advantage Plans, there are a fair number that offer memberships or discounted memberships to gyms and fitness centers. For example, if you have a YMCA in your area and would like to use their pool, indoor walking track, or fitness equipment, it would definitely be worth your while to check out plan providers that cover gym memberships.

Are There Any Other Fitness Programs Medicare Advantage Plans Cover?

If you haven’t heard of the Silver Sneakers program, now’s the time to check it out. Silver Sneakers is a health and fitness program designed specifically for any and all Medicare-eligible persons. And, fortunately, a significant number of Medicare Part C Plans offer Silver Sneakers for no additional cost.

If you have a Medicare Advantage Plan with Silver Sneakers coverage, you can attend classes at any one of the more than 17,000 gyms and health centers across the country for free. There are classes for cardio, strength-training, mobility, flexibility and more, providing Medicare recipients with opportunities for safe, healthy exercise in a social environment. And they are all led by certified training personnel.

What If I’m Not Comfortable Going to a Gym?

If you’re not into “pumping iron” or running on treadmills but still want to get some healthy exercise geared toward seniors in a fun, social environment, then there’s more good news to share. Silver Sneakers offers a FLEX community program that extends classes to other venues such as churches, community rooms and recreation centers. Can you imagine doing yoga or Tai Chi in your local park? With a Medicare Advantage Plan you just might be able to!

In part, in response to Covid-19 concerns, Silver Sneakers programs are also offered online and on-demand.

Is Silver Sneakers the Only Program of This Kind?

Good question! Silver Sneakers is offered by a fair number of Medicare Advantage Plans and through several different insurance companies. However, participating Part C plans with Blue Cross/Blue Shield offer a similar fitness program called Silver & Fit. Likewise, United Health Care offers its own Medicare fitness program called Renew Active.

Why all these plans? Insurance companies understand the value of preventive care, that when people stay healthy, they are less likely to require intensive medical care services. Staying healthy isn’t just good for you–it’s good for their bottom line, too.

Is There Room for One More Question?

If so, what about Medigap? Is it true Medigap covers fitness programs, too? Medigap, like Medicare Part C and Part D, is another kind of private insurance plan. These plans generally help Medicare recipients pay for some of the out-of-pocket costs for Medicare Part A and B, such as coinsurance payments, deductibles, and copays. In some cases, Medigap also covers Silver Sneakers, Silver & Fit and Renew Active. However, like all private insurance plans, check with the provider to see just what they offer and any costs involved.


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