There are many benefits to regular exercise and physical activity, especially for older adults. Regular physical activity has been linked to improved physical, mental, and emotional health, and it also helps to prevent the development of chronic health conditions later in life. Due to these benefits, many insurance companies provide gym membership coverage, including specific Medicare plans.
Coverage of gym membership and fitness programs is not a benefit of Original Medicare.
You may be eligible to participate in the SilverSneakers fitness program if covered by your Medicare Advantage or Medigap plans.
If your Medicare plan offers a fitness reimbursement benefit, you may be able to purchase certain fitness equipment to complement your workout regimen.
People over age 65 should participate in physical activity several times a week to help prevent the development of chronic health conditions. This activity can be of varying intensity and should consist of aerobic and strength exercises, including movements that improve balance. Aerobic exercise should be done most days of the week, including hiking, walking, swimming, or running.
Strength exercises like resistance training and weightlifting twice weekly may help improve your muscle strength. Incorporating movements to improve balance can reduce the risk of falls and prevent other injuries. Given these recommendations, many seniors may wonder if Medicare will pay for exercise programs.
Does Medicare pay for an exercise program?
Benefits like exercise programs and gym memberships are not included if you are enrolled in Original Medicare. You may find these benefits included in some Medicare Advantage plans, as some will pay for the costs of exercise programs. Medicare Advantage can be beneficial as it provides coverage for Medicare Parts A and B.
Some Medicare Supplement plans, also known as Medigap plans, will also provide coverage for an exercise program. Fitness benefits will vary among plans and may not be offered by all Medicare Advantage plans or Medigap plans. You should review all benefits of the plan and choose the plan that meets all your health and wellness needs.
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Does Medicare cover SilverSneakers?
SilverSneakers is a nationwide exercise program for adults over 65. SilverSneakers aims to improve the health and well-being of older adults and has been associated with improvements in mental and physical health. Although not available through Original Medicare, the SilverSneakers program is a benefit offered by most Medicare Advantage plans and some Medigap plans.
There are no additional fees for participation in SilverSneakers for individuals enrolled in Medicare plans that offer this benefit. Participation in SilverSneakers includes:
- Gym membership. You will be able to obtain a gym membership and select from thousands of participating gyms across the country.
- Online classes. You will have access to live and on-demand online fitness classes.
- Community activities. You will be able to sign up to participate in various fitness and recreational classes within your community.
- Fitness App. An option to download a mobile fitness app will be available to help you locate classes, participate in workout programs, and monitor your progress.
Does Medicare pay for exercise equipment?
Exercise equipment is not covered under Original Medicare. Medicare Part B will pay for durable medical equipment, often called DME. Durable medical equipment is used within your home and deemed medically necessary by your medical provider. Durable medical equipment can include items to help with mobility, such as walkers and canes. Supplies for people with diabetes, such as test strips, lancets, and blood glucose monitors, are also considered durable medical equipment. Exercise equipment is not considered durable medical equipment.
You may be able to obtain financial assistance to buy exercise equipment through a Medicare Advantage plan. Some Medicare Advantage plans reimburse certain fitness services through direct member fitness reimbursement (DMR) allowances. The amount of the allowances varies by plan, and members can use this allowance to purchase exercise equipment such as yoga mats and weights. Since the benefit is provided via reimbursement, you must cover the cost of the equipment initially. You can request repayment for the equipment from your insurance company by following their reimbursement process. You can learn more about how to find the right Medicare Advantage plan for you at Medicare.gov.
Does Medicare pay for a fitness watch?
There is expected to be a continued increase in the utilization of wearable health technology such as fitness watches. However, Original Medicare does not cover fitness watches at this time. Some Medicare Advantage plans may cover a fitness watch. Additionally, as mentioned above, you may be able to purchase a fitness watch or other health technology through a direct member fitness reimbursement allowance. Check with your Medicare plan to see if it includes this benefit.
Active and regular participation in an exercise program is an essential component of a healthy lifestyle in all adults. Older adults need to prevent and combat chronic diseases. If you’re eligible to receive benefits through Medicare, there are options available for you to participate in a fitness program. Many Medicare Advantage and Medigap plans offer exercise programs as a benefit to help individuals overcome access barriers to exercise programs.
Will Medicare pay for an exercise machine?
Medicare generally will not pay for an exercise machine. Medicare will pay for durable medical equipment (DME) that your provider determines to be medically necessary. You may be able to obtain an exercise machine if your Medicare plan offers a fitness reimbursement benefit.
Does Medicare Plan G pay for a gym membership?
Medicare Plan G is a Medigap plan that includes gym Membership through the SilverSneakers program. Other Medigap plans may also cover gym membership through SilverSneakers, so be sure to explore the available Medigap plans in your area to see if coverage of a gym membership is offered.
What is the Renew Active program?
Renew Active is a fitness benefit and program United Healthcare provides to AARP Medicare Advantage members. Like SilverSneakers, Renew Active includes a free gym membership and access to live and on-demand exercise videos. Additionally, cognitive health is a core component of this program.
- National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. How much physical activity do older adults need?
- U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Medicare Advantage Plans cover all Medicare services.
- Preventing Chronic Disease. Assessment of a Community-Based Exercise Program for Older Adults in a Mixed Rural/Urban Catchment Area: Silver Sneakers in Central Pennsylvania.
- Silver Sneakers. Participating Health Plans.
- U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Durable medical equipment (DME) coverage.
- U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Explore your Medicare coverage options.
- U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Gym memberships & fitness programs.
- United HealthCare Services, Inc. Renew Active by UnitedHealthcare.