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What is SilverSneakers and does Medicare cover it?

It’s a simple formula: Better access to fitness opportunities can translate into better health and less need for expensive medical interventions. Some health insurers have even recognized that offering a fitness benefit to members can help delay or reduce their overhead costs.

This means your exercise class can help boost your results, and many insurers are looking to capitalize on this reality.

One program that can help do all of this for seniors is called SilverSneakers, which is already offered as a benefit of your existing health insurance plan.


What is SilverSneakers?

SilverSneakers is a fitness benefit available to adults 65 and older through many Medicare plans.

With an emphasis on physical activity and social connections, SilverSneakers offers access to more than 20,000 fitness and exercise facilities, including YMCAs, municipal recreation centers and other community facilities.

“Members can also access hundreds of live weekly virtual classes and a digital curriculum of thousands of on-demand classes and virtual programs focused on balance, fall prevention, strength, flexibility, cardiovascular health and more Adds Stacey Santo, Head of Engagement and Innovation. official of Tivity Health, the parent company of SilverSneakers.

The lifestyle program continually works to expand its healthy aging programming beyond fitness with classes and programs on topics including nutrition, technology adoption, chronic disease management and stress relief through from the SilverSneakers Live platform.

“Also, SilverSneakers provides mental enrichment for seniors with opportunities to stay intellectually engaged and maintain brain health through virtual classes and activities,” says Santo.

Does Medicare cover SilverSneakers?

While SilverSneakers is probably the most well-known fitness membership option available for seniors, it’s not the only one. Many Medicare Advantage plans also offer similar programs, including Renew Active, Silver&Fit, and One Pass.

“All of these allow you to work out at the gym or find online classes at no cost to you,” says Stephanie Pogue, a certified Medicare insurance planner in St. Louis and CEO of St. Louis Insurance Group in Chesterfield, Missouri. .

How much does SilverSneakers cost?

SilverSneakers won’t hit your wallet.

“There is no cost to the client because it is included in the Medicare Advantage plan,” explains Pogue.

What is eligibility for SilverSneakers?

Enrollees who have a Medicare Advantage plan that includes a SilverSneakers benefit are eligible to participate in the program. Check your plan details to find out if it’s included.

Although SilverSneakers is designed for older adults, there is no actual age requirement. The only requirement is that you have a Medicare Advantage plan, or a related plan, that offers SilverSneakers as one of its benefits.

How does SilverSneakers work?

It’s simple: If your gym, community center or other training facility is in the SilverSneakers network, the insurance plan will pay your membership fees.

Just show your SilverSneakers Member ID at the location and you can get a basic membership, which usually includes access to cardio machines, free weights, a track, a pool and other fitness equipment.

You can also access some fitness classes, but the facility may charge extra for certain classes; it just depends on how the facility structures its SilverSneakers options. View participating locations online.

A big advantage of the program is that you don’t have to stay in one place.

“Eligible members can train at as many locations as they want,” says Santo. “If they travel or prefer activities in more than one location, they have options.”

Pogue adds that his customers love this feature.

“They can join as many gyms or community centers as they want and membership fees are paid,” he notes. “I have several clients who belong to one gym because it has the best pool and another because it has the best hiking trail or yoga class.”

Advantages of SilverSneakers

Regular physical activity and exercise are good for supporting well-being, health and longevity. For seniors in particular, staying fit can pay big dividends.

“Even if you start an exercise routine later in life, the benefits to your brain and body are huge,” says Santo.

Improved mental function. Lower risk of developing chronic diseases. Greater mobility and flexibility. Better weight control and blood sugar control. Improved strength and endurance.

“Physical well-being is still at the top of the list, but emotional, social and mental well-being are much more part of the conversation, and we’ve learned how important a part of our health these things are in recent years,” notes Santo.

Why You Shouldn’t Choose a Medicare Plan Based on SilverSneakers

Without a doubt, a program that gets you and keeps you exercising more is a worthwhile inclusion in any health plan you select. However, when choosing a Medicare plan, you’ll need to weigh a lot of options and benefits and determine what fits your budget while meeting your needs. Making sure you can still see your favorite doctors and that the prescriptions and pharmacy you use are in the network should take priority.

Also note: No insurer is required to include SilverSneakers as part of their bundled benefits, and your plan can choose to stop offering it from year to year as it sees fit. Any plan that includes SilverSneakers could also have higher premiums than Original Medicare or another Medicare Advantage plan without a fitness benefit. In some cases, that higher premium could be more than it would cost to join a low-cost local gym on your own.

How can I find a Medicare plan with SilverSneakers benefits?

You can search for plans that offer fitness benefits on or by speaking with an independent Medicare insurance broker.

You can also contact your local senior center or Area Agency on Aging for more resources and guidance.

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