Does Medicare Pay for Gym Memberships?
A gym membership that you use to exercise and stay healthy may seem like a preventive service that would be covered under Medicare. But since a gym membership is not considered medically necessary or tied to a specific medical condition, Medicare will not pay for it. However, some Medicare Advantage and Medigap plans do offer this coverage.
Gym Memberships Covered Under Medicare Advantage Plans
Medicare Advantage plans, which are available through private insurers, can offer gym memberships.
SilverSneakers, a health and fitness program aimed at seniors, is included in a lot of Advantage plans. The program offers both online and in-person fitness classes at thousands of gyms and community centers.
There are other options available besides SilverSneakers. UnitedHealthcare offers the Renew Active fitness program. Like SilverSneakers, it includes access to a large network of gyms across the country, but Renew Active also includes a session with a personal trainer to create a personalized fitness plan.
Silver&Fit is another similar benefit available through some Medicare Advantage plans. It includes workouts at local gyms as well as live online classes through Facebook Live and YouTube. Silver&Fit also offers home fitness kits.
You may be able to get a gym membership covered through Medicare supplemental insurance. Be sure to check with your plan provider to find out whether a gym membership is available to you.
Wellness Benefits Covered Under Medicare
While Original Medicare does not cover gym memberships, there are other wellness benefits and programs that could be available to you. Medicare offers a wide range of services for people who are at risk of certain conditions.
The Diabetes Prevention Program offers classes that provide you with exercise, diet and lifestyle tips if you are at risk of developing diabetes. Nutrition therapy is also available under Original Medicare if you have diabetes, kidney disease or have undergone a kidney transplant. Medicare Part B will cover the entire cost for these services.
Medicare could also cover weight loss surgeries and procedures like a gastric bypass for morbidly obese patients.
Benefits of Exercise for Seniors
While regular exercise is important for all age groups, it is especially beneficial for seniors. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, exercise can help seniors prevent, reduce and manage many chronic diseases.
However, 27.5 percent of adults over the age of 50 reported that they had not engaged in physical activity outside of work during the previous month, according to a 2016 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. More than a third of adults ages 75 and older reported that they had not exercised in that time span.
The CDC recommends regular exercise to stave off potential health issues. Keeping active can help you remain capable of doing your regular day-to-day activities as you age. Recommended exercises include a mix of aerobic and strength-building activities, which you can do with equipment available in most gyms.
It is recommended that seniors undergo moderate exercise for at least 150 minutes a week and take part in muscle-building activities twice a week. A gym membership and the programs covered in some Medicare Advantage plans can help seniors achieve this goal.
9 Cited Research Articles
- AARP Medicare Plans. (2021, May 26). Renew Active. Retrieved from https://www.aarpmedicareplans.com/shop/renew-active.html
- U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021, February 11). How Much Physical Activity Do Older Adults Need? Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/older_adults/index.htm
- Walker, M. (2020, December 31). 11 Burning Questions About SilverSneakers — Answered! Retrieved from https://www.silversneakers.com/blog/silversneakers-questions-answered/
- U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. (2018, October). Medicare Diabetes Prevention Program Expanded Model. Retrieved from https://www.cms.gov/Outreach-and-Education/Medicare-Learning-Network-MLN/MLNProducts/Downloads/MDPP-MLN34893002.pdf
- Watson, K.B et al. (2016, September 16). Physical Inactivity Among Adults Aged 50 Years and Older — United States, 2014. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/65/wr/mm6536a3.htm
- Silver&Fit. (n.d.). Silver&Fit Overview. Retrieved from https://www.silverandfit.com/
- U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. (n.d.). Bariatric Surgery. Retrieved from https://www.medicare.gov/coverage/bariatric-surgery
- U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. (n.d.). Gym Memberships & Fitness Programs. Retrieved from https://www.medicare.gov/coverage/gym-memberships-fitness-programs
- U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. (n.d.). Nutrition Therapy Services. Retrieved from https://www.medicare.gov/coverage/nutrition-therapy-services