Staying in shape through regular exercise can be tough, especially as you age. Everything from busy schedules to aches and pains can interfere with the ability to take care of your body, and unfortunately, seniors often find that it gets harder to stay in a routine when it comes to exercise. Thankfully, programs like SilverSneakers are available to assist seniors with reaching their fitness goals.
What is SilverSneakers?
SilverSneakers is an exercise program designed specifically for seniors, and it has been helping seniors since 1992. The program was started by Mary Swanson in an attempt to assist her aging father recover after a heart attack. Traditional gyms and fitness routines were too strenuous for Mary’s father, but through a little bit of research and assistance from fitness professionals, Mary put together age-appropriate exercise plans that have been keeping seniors fit ever since.
Currently, the program is available at gyms across the United States, but seniors can also participate in SilverSneakers at home through virtual instruction online. Digital classes can be streamed as on-demand video, but live instruction on the web is also available. This makes it easy for seniors with mobility concerns to participate even if visiting a gym isn’t a possibility.
Does Medicare cover SilverSneakers?
Original Medicare provides some benefits for physical therapy, but it does not cover the cost of things like gym memberships, nutrition plans, weight loss treatments or personal trainer fees. In general, Medicare views all of these items as lifestyle concerns and does not provide benefits for fitness or weight control supplements, classes or products.
As a result of Medicare’s stance on fitness classes, the program does not cover SilverSneakers or any other access to fitness coaching. Medicare Part A, the inpatient benefit, may cover certain diagnostic tests related to measuring physical fitness in the event that you are admitted to a hospital or skilled nursing facility. Likewise, Medicare Part B, the outpatient benefit, may cover some lab work related to screening you for medical conditions related to fitness level, and Medicare benefits under Part B can be utilized for physical therapy when medically necessary.
Do Medicare Advantage plans cover SilverSneakers?
Although Original Medicare provides a lot of coverage for everyday medical costs like surgery and doctor’s visits, some seniors find that Medicare Advantage plans offer a better way to pay for medical expenses. Medicare Advantage plans are very similar to Original Medicare benefits in that they provide access to the exact same coverage that can be found in Original Medicare plans. This means that Medicare Parts A and B are included, but many MA plans include additional benefits, like Medicare Part D, which is optional prescription drug coverage.
Medicare Advantage plan providers have the ability to include additional benefits not found under Original Medicare coverage. SilverSneakers is often one of these extra benefits, but you will want to check with your plan provider to find out more.
If your Medicare Advantage plan does include access to SilverSneakers, you may have the option to select in-person instruction at a local gym that works with the SilverSneakers program. Not all gyms participate in this program, so you can check online for locations.
If in-person instruction is not available in your area or you aren’t able to travel to participate in person, you may be able to take advantage of SilverSneakers online classes. Once again, this will be dependent on your Medicare Advantage coverage through your plan provider.