Medical professionals and researchers say that staying active throughout life can help people prevent heart disease and diabetes, delay the onset of dementia, and provide many other benefits for health. Not only that, but seniors who get regular physical exercise also improve their strength and flexibility lowering their risk of falling; plus they maintain social engagement avoiding loneliness, depression, and isolation.
Getting enough quality physical activity after retirement isn’t easy for everyone but signing up for a gym membership can get you headed on the right track. While Original Medicare doesn’t offer coverage for fitness club enrollment, many Medicare Advantage plans include gym memberships as extra benefits. If you’re interested in getting a deal on a monthly fitness club membership, maybe a Medicare Advantage plan can help.
Does Medicare cover gym memberships?
As mentioned above, Original Medicare doesn’t cover gym membership fees. You might find a Medicare Advantage plan that includes additional benefits beyond your Part A and Part B coverage, such as fitness programs.
Today, more and more Medicare Advantage (Part C) plans are adding extra benefits to their coverage to attract new beneficiaries. These additional benefits are often prescription drug coverage, vision, hearing, dental care services, and fitness club memberships like SilverSneakers.
SilverSneakers is a fitness program available across the country and specifically tailored for adults 65 and older. With a SilverSneakers membership, you have access to in-person and online programs and services.
If you have a membership, you can use any of the 17,000 fitness centers in the country where you can find specially designed fitness classes for all fitness levels. They have chair exercise classes, water aerobics, yoga, tai chi, weightlifting, circuit training, and a lot more programs. And if you can’t get out to a gym, you can use their app or online videos.
If you don’t have a SilverSneakers program in your Medicare service area, your Medicare Advantage provider might offer a gym membership through a different program. Or the plan may have monthly allowances that go toward membership fees so you can enroll in a fitness or wellness program that you prefer in your area.
Most Medicare Advantage plans bundle the extra benefits, so you don’t have to pay separate charges. However, there are some plans that offer extra benefits like fitness club memberships for an additional charge. You can ask a plan representative about these charges before you enroll.
What other wellness services does Medicare cover?
Both Original Medicare and Medicare Advantage cover wellness services that are medically necessary. Medicare Advantage plans often extend this coverage include supplemental services. Some of the wellness services covered by Medicare are:
- Diabetic care programs
- Heart health programs and cholesterol screening
- Preventive care screenings
- Mental health care
- Addiction and substance use disorder care
- Smoking cessation programs
- Nutritional counseling
- Weight loss counseling and surgery
These services are available to Medicare beneficiaries who meet eligibility requirements. You can ask your health care provider about the programs and requirements.