Our fitness can influence many factors of our overall health. It can help us maintain a healthy bodyweight, strengthen muscles, and improve our balance. In fact, there’s a well-established link between fitness and living a longer life. Maintaining a healthy fitness level or regular exercise can even help you get sick less. In a sense, exercise is a great preventative measure for your health.
One great way to get in shape and regularly exercise is to join a local gym. Not only do gyms give you access to equipment that may be too bulky or expensive to have at home, many memberships include classes and programs with professional trainers. If these can be so effective at making you healthier, does Medicare cover gym memberships like other preventative care methods?
Unfortunately, if you’re enrolled in Original Medicare, it does not currently cover gym memberships or professional fitness trainers. That said, there are fitness-adjacent services that Original Medicare does cover. While these aren’t specifically gym memberships or physical training, they can help you reach a physically healthier place. Medically necessary physical therapy, to help you recover from surgery or as part of treatment for example, would fit into this category since Medicare Part B covers 20 percent and the deductible applies.
While gym memberships aren’t covered, there are fitness-adjacent services that Original Medicare does cover.
Other examples of fitness-related benefits of Original Medicare are the Welcome to Medicare and Annual Wellness visits. Both of these visits are meetings with your doctor, either when you first enroll in Medicare or once each year. During these meetings, you’ll update or discuss (among other things) plans to improve your health. This can include a fitness plan crafted by your doctor to help you reach certain health goals and prevent future health issues. There are other services that Original Medicare covers that may help you in a fitness journey that aren’t gym memberships, but are still worth investigating. Check out our Medicare section to learn more.
Medicare Advantage (Part C) is a different matter when it comes to gym membership coverage. While not required by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), many Part C plans include some coverage of gym or fitness program memberships. Usually, your plan will work with a gym program that allows you to enroll in the program as part of your plan. By joining the program, you’ll be able to use the gym and their facilities or join the gym for free or at a discounted rate. Examples of these programs are SilverSneakers or Silver&Fit. Some insurance companies have their own specialized fitness programs built into their Medicare Advantage plans, too.
Many Part C plans include some coverage of gym or fitness program memberships.
These benefits vary based on your plan and the program you enroll in. To learn more about what programs are covered by your plan, you’ll have to look at your individual plan or call your insurance representative. If you want to explore Medicare Advantage plans that offer gym membership benefits, check out the Medicareful plan finder tool. With that tool, you can see what plans are in your area, meet with a licensed sales agent, and enroll in a plan all online and from the comfort of your own home.
If you have Original Medicare and want to keep your current plan, you may still be able to receive coverage for gym memberships. You can do this through a Medicare Supplement, also called a Medigap plan. These are privately-offered (but federally-approved) insurance plans that add extra coverage on top of your Original Medicare coverage. There are several different types of Medigap plans, each labeled with a specific letter. Depending on which plan you choose, you’ll have different services covered at different rates. That said, the plan mostly likely to cover gym memberships (though this has been declining in recent years) is Plan G. Similar to Medicare Advantage plans, you can use the Medicareful plan finder to see local Medigap plans and enroll in them with an agent today!
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Finding a gym can be difficult, especially if finances are an important factor to consider. With the right coverage, you can make sure that finances don’t stop you from joining a gym and beginning your fitness journey today! Keep in mind, if you don’t find a gym or don’t receive coverage, you can still work out at home. There’s no time like now to start!