There’s no age limit on exercise – physical activity is for everyone! In fact, as you get older, physical activity becomes an even more important part of your overall health. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, regular exercise can help prevent chronic conditions, boost heart and circulatory health, and increase muscle strength.
But how can you get the exercise you need? One way to explore being active and healthy is to check if your Medicare plan (including dual eligible Medicare and Medicaid plans) offers additional fitness benefits.
This means your plan may cover some or all of your gym membership or provide you with other resources to help maintain your physical health. It’s common for a health plan to partner with another company, like SilverSneakers®, to offer members support on their exercise journeys.
Gym memberships and other fitness benefits Medicare may cover
Traditionally, Original Medicare (Parts A and B) doesn’t cover gym memberships and other fitness benefits unless they are considered “medically necessary.” This means you’d need to pay entirely out of pocket if you want to join a gym or exercise program. However, private plans like Medicare Advantage (Part C) often provide additional coverage for fitness.
This can include things like gym benefits and at-home exercise resources, as well as other services like physical therapy, diabetes prevention, nutrition therapy and weight management counseling.
How a fitness benefit works
A Medicare plan fitness benefit is a great way to improve both your physical and mental health. It makes being more active simple and affordable because it’s typically covered at no extra cost. This can include gym memberships, at-home workout resources, transportation to exercise facilities and more – however, it’s up to each plan what’s covered.
Low- or no-cost gym memberships
Your plan may provide you access to a fitness center or gym at no (or a reduced) cost to you. With no minimum visit requirements, you can use the facilities as often as you like. And specially trained instructors may teach classes adapted to the needs of older people.
At-home workout kits
Some plans provide kits so you can work out at home. These resources may include DVDs, apps to stream workouts to your smart device, guides and equipment to help you exercise on your own. Usually, you can choose one or two kits per year, depending on your Medicare plan benefit. And you’ll likely have a variety of fitness topics to choose from like strength training, walking, yoga, dance and more.
Your program may have added perks like a newsletter with healthy tips or a rewards program for tracking your activity. Some plans for people with low income, like a Minnesota Senior Health Options (MSHO) plan, also offer free transportation to fitness centers.
Getting started on a program
Generally, you can begin using the fitness benefit by showing your member ID card at the participating gym/fitness center or by downloading your plan’s fitness app. Here are some more ways to learn about your benefits and find the right center near you.
- Check your health plan materials, such as the Evidence of Coverage or the Member Handbook.
- Call your health plan’s Member Services at the phone number on the back of your member ID card. They’ll tell you if your plan has a fitness benefit and can help you find a participating fitness center nearby.
- Get help from the fitness program once you know which program your plan covers. You can go to the fitness program’s website or contact their customer service. Learn about your gym options and get helpful information to support the new fit you.
HealthPartners Medicare members: Learn more about your plan’s fitness benefits.