Does Medicare Include the SilverSneakers Fitness Program?

Medicare Benefits Solutions
Feb 13, 2023

Going to the gym can be good for your physical and mental health, but memberships can be costly. Finding time for regular exercise is important, especially as we age. Although Original Medicare doesn’t provide fitness programs, many Medicare Advantage plans have added benefits that include SilverSneakers and gym memberships.

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What is the SilverSneakers Fitness Program?

SilverSneakers is the name of a fitness and wellness program tailored to people 65 years and older. Access to the program includes classes, workshops, and gym memberships at over 15,000 locations. It also provides discounts on wellness products. Online nutritional information and cooking classes are also within the program’s scope.

Even if you don’t live near a gym, SilverSneakers offers virtual fitness options. You can stay fit with live stream and on-demand videos using your computer, tablet, or smartphone. The SilverSneakers website offers a step-by-step tutorial to help you get the most out of the technology, starting with creating a free Zoom account. 

Online classes in real time allow interaction with the teacher. If you’d prefer an unscheduled routine, you can opt for a prerecorded video. During inclement weather, videos you can watch at home may be the incentive you need to stay active. 

Membership in SilverSneakers may also give you access to outdoor activities at a local park or community center.

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Does Medicare Have a SilverSneakers Program?

Original Medicare Part A and Part B help cover medically necessary inpatient and outpatient care. Unfortunately, benefits do not include any fitness programs or gym memberships, including SilverSneakers. If coverage for a gym membership is important to you, you may want to consider a Medicare Advantage plan. 

If you choose to enroll in a Medicare Advantage (Part C) plan, you will get your Part A and Part B benefits, but most plans include additional coverage. Depending on the plan, Medicare Advantage members may have access to dental, vision and hearing services in addition to over-the-counter items and fitness programs. Some plans cover transportation to and from doctor appointments as well.  

Does Medicare Advantage Automatically Include SilverSneakers?

As a Medicare Advantage member with a SilverSneakers gym membership, you can benefit from the same equipment, classes and amenities as any other member. Depending on the gym, this may include exercise machines, walking tracks, a pool, a sauna and a hot tub.

Even if you have a Medicare Advantage plan with SilverSneakers, registration is not automatic. You’ll have to register on the SilverSneakers site to get your member ID number. You may also call 1-888-423-4632. The member ID grants you free entry to the participating fitness facility you wish to join. 

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How Do I Get a SilverSneakers Card?

If you are a member of a Medicare plan that offers SilverSneakers, you can download and print your membership ID from the SilverSneakers website. Bring the member ID with you to a network facility, and show it to the front desk for free entry and full use of the gym. 

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Is SilverSneakers Worth it?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that insufficient exercise can lead to severe health conditions like heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, cancer and obesity. “Physical inactivity also costs the nation $117 billion a year for related health care.” So it makes sense that many private Medicare insurance companies build fitness options into their policies. 

If you are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan with SilverSneakers, you can use the benefit at no additional cost. Compare plans before enrolling to make sure you have the overall coverage you need at a price you can afford. 

In addition to free access to online fitness options, gym memberships are free at participating facilities. The SilverSneakers program boasts more participating fitness locations than Starbucks. As with all benefits, the value is generally reflected in how much you use it. 

SilverSneakers vs. Renew Active

SilverSneakers continues to partner with most Medicare-approved insurance companies offering Medicare Advantage plans with extra benefits. UnitedHealthcare partners with another provider, Renew Active, for Medicare Advantage plans.

SilverSneakers and Renew Active programs offer similar member-exclusive opportunities: an extensive network of participating fitness centers, an expansive library of prerecorded classes, live fitness instruction, and community and wellness support. 

Both offer at-home fitness kits when network locations are out of reach or if you simply prefer an in-home fitness routine.  With SilverSneakers, you have access to a phone app while Renew Active offers a BrainHQ app for online brain games. 

How Do I Find a Medicare Plan That Offers the SilverSneakers Benefit?

Using an online plan finder can help you find and compare plans available in your area. You can switch plans during an enrollment period. The Medicare Annual Enrollment Period (AEP), runs from October 15 through December 7 and gives Medicare recipients the chance to make a change in coverage. 

If you’re already enrolled in an MA plan and want to make a change, you can take advantage of the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period (OEP), from January 1 through March 31. You may also qualify for a Special Enrollment Period if you experience certain life events, like moving out of your current plan’s area. 

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