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Medicare and the SilverSneakers program

October 6, 2016

SilverSneakers is a health wellness program that promotes physical exercise for older adults. This benefit may covered by some Medicare Advantage plans.

How SilverSneakers works

All SilverSneakers memberships include a basic membership at a participating fitness location. The SilverSneakers program partners with more than 12,000 locations nationwide, including gyms, YMCAs, Curves, and other fitness facilities. Membership includes access to on-site fitness equipment and amenities like changing rooms and showers.

When you first enroll in the SilverSneakers program, you’ll be assigned to a Program Advisor who works at your participating location. The Program Advisor will show you around the fitness center, demonstrate how to use the fitness equipment, and answer any questions you may have as you work towards your fitness and wellness goals.

The SilverSneakers program also includes group fitness classes specifically designed for seniors. These classes target strength, flexibility, and endurance. Classes are available for all fitness levels and are taught by instructors who have been certified to train older adults.

SilverSneakers partners with HealthwaysFIT.com to help members keep track of their fitness and nutrition goals. Members get access to this website for no charge, where they can share healthy recipes, get advice from health experts, and find support within an online community.

SilverSneakers members also have access to wellness educational seminars and social events that promote physical fitness. This may include activities like tai chi, yoga, or walking clubs.

Your SilverSneakers membership doesn’t cover services like personal trainers, massages, or benefits that go beyond the basic membership at your fitness facility.

Finding a participating location

If your Medicare Advantage plan already covers this program, it’s easy to get started. Use the free tool on the SilverSneakers website to find a participating fitness location near you. You’re allowed to visit more than one location. Make sure to bring your SilverSneakers card or Medicare Advantage plan membership card with you.

For members without access to a convenient fitness location, SilverSneakers Step provides fitness kits to help you stay active when you’re at home or when you’re traveling. Each kit comes with an instructional fitness DVD and any equipment you need to do the exercises, such as resistance bands. On-the-go kits are available for strength training, general fitness, yoga, and walking.

Medicare coverage of SilverSneakers

Original Medicare, Part A and Part B, does not cover the SilverSneakers program or other types of health wellness programs. However, some Medicare Advantage plans  offered by Medicare-approved private insurance companies may include SilverSneakers as an extra benefit.  Medicare Advantage plans are required to provide at least the same level of coverage as Medicare Part A and Part B, but may include benefits beyond this, such as routine vision and dental, prescription drugs, or health wellness programs like SilverSneakers.

Coverage of the SilverSneakers program will vary by Medicare Advantage plan, and availability may depend on location. Many Medicare Advantage plans cover this benefit at no additional cost, while others cover it as an optional rider. If you’re currently enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan, you may want to contact your plan’s Customer Service   to find out if the plan includes  the SilverSneakers benefit.

Some employer or union sponsored group retirement plans may cover this benefit as well. If you are enrolled in a group retirement plan and you are uncertain whether SilverSneakers is included in your benefits, you may want to contact the plan administrator.