Are Gym Memberships Covered by Health Insurance or Medicare?
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You may be surprised to find out that you are eligible for a discount to join a gym from your health insurance company. Most (but not all) health insurers are in partnership with gyms and fitness centers as a way to incentivize members to take better care of their health through exercise. For Medicare recipients, many Medicare Advantage plans offer SilverSneakers® and Silver & Fit Programs. Both of these programs offer free or discounted gym memberships and resources designed to help improve strength, flexibility, balance and endurance for seniors. Here’s more on how you can save on a gym membership.
Will Health Insurance Pay a Gym Membership?
While your health insurance won’t pay your entire membership cost, most offer reduced rates for gym memberships, fitness gear and even online classes. Review your benefits with your current insurer. If you’re not happy with the gym membership perks, consider another plan during Open Enrollment or if you are eligible for a Special Enrollment Period.
Even though it costs health insurance companies money to offer members these discounts, they understand that it will cost them much less down the road if members are actively using their memberships to stay fit and healthy. Consider that the next time you want to avoid hitting the mat!
HSAs, FSAs and HRAs May Pay for Gym Membership
A Health Savings Account (HSA), a Flexible Spending Account (FSA) or a Health Reimbursement Arrangement (HRA) may help you save money on a gym membership too. You may have to provide a note from a doctor explaining that exercise is medically necessary to use money in these accounts, but it shouldn’t be too difficult to get approval. Check with your employer or benefits administrator for specific details.
An FSA and HSA are savings accounts that let you set aside money on a pre-tax basis to pay for qualified medical expenses. An HRA is an employer-funded group health plan from which employees are reimbursed tax-free for qualified medical expenses.
FSAs and HRAs are offered through work and HSAs are usually only bundled with a high deductible health plan (HDHP).
Does Medicare Pay for Gym Memberships?
While Medicare does not cover gym memberships, the private version of it, called Medicare Advantage or Medicare Part C, can benefit members with free memberships to gyms and the SilverSneakers® and Silver & Fit Programs.
SilverSneakers probably offers a broader range of classes but Silver & Fit offers an at-home fitness kit, which is useful if you don’t live near a participating gym.
It’s a good idea to see what each of these two programs offer near you to choose the right one.
Here’s more information on these two popular programs for seniors:
What Is SilverSneakers®?
SilverSneakers® is a free membership with many Medicare Advantage plans. The membership includes live online fitness classes, on-demand videos, and access to 16,000+ gyms across the country.
After you enroll in SilverSneakers®, you’ll have access to FLEX Community workout classes. FLEX Community classes are held at community centers, parks and other shared spaces or online. Classes include yoga, tai chi and Zumba®.
What Is the Silver & Fit Program?
Like SilverSneakers®, Silver & Fit is a free membership with many Medicare Advantage plans. With its membership, participants get a free at-home fitness kit, which is helpful for those who do not live near a participating gym or fitness center.
Silver & Fit boasts over 11,000 participating fitness centers, a library of useful videos and online classes.
Bonus: Another Way To Save on a Gym Membership
You may be able to deduct gym membership fees from your income taxes if you have a medical condition diagnosed by a healthcare professional that requires exercise. It's important to consult with a tax professional or the IRS for guidance on eligibility and requirements.