How Can I Get Silver Sneakers if I have Original Medicare?
The Silver Sneakers gym membership program is a popular benefit for many Medicare beneficiaries.
According to data published by Tivity Health, which operates the Silver Sneakers program, over 13.5 million people age 65 and over are eligible for Silver Sneakers. If you’re interested in a Silver Sneakers gym membership, here’s what you should know about how the program works and what you need to do to join.
What is Silver Sneakers?
Silver Sneakers is a private health and fitness membership program designed for seniors. It’s available at no cost to those enrolled in a participating Medicare Advantage plan. There are over 16,000 participating Silver Sneaker gym facilities and 70 different types of health and fitness classes available nationwide.
If you join the Silver Sneakers program through a Medicare Advantage plan, you get a no-cost basic gym membership at any participating fitness center across the country. You can also take Silver Sneakers classes, which may include everything from cardio to tai chi to yoga, at no cost. The Silver Sneakers Flex classes are a new type of community-based exercise class that take place both inside the gym and outdoors at places like public parks and walking paths.
Will a Silver Sneakers gym membership improve my health?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that the Silver Sneakers program may reduce long-term health-care costs and inpatient admissions among seniors. In fact, the study showed people who attended a Silver Sneakers gym or fitness class at least twice a week spent $1,250 less on health care in their second year of the program than those attending just once a week.
If you have diabetes, you may also see a positive impact from a Silver Sneakers gym membership. Research published by the American Diabetes Association showed that diabetic seniors who participated in Silver Sneakers activities saved over $1,600 in medical expenses their first year and had fewer hospitalizations than those who didn’t.
Finally, a research article in the professional journal Population Health Management showed the Silver Sneakers gym membership program boosted the overall physical and emotional health of participants. The research showed that higher participation in the program improved quality of life across several different measures. It also reduced some of the physical difficulties associated with aging.
Of course, not everyone will have the same response to a Silver Sneakers gym membership, but research shows that many do see positive health benefits. These studies didn’t compare Silver Sneakers to other health club memberships.
You should always talk to your doctor before starting a new exercise program such as Silver Sneakers, however.
Can I enroll in Silver Sneakers if I have Original Medicare?
Silver Sneakers is a benefit available only to seniors enrolled in participating Medicare Advantage plans.
If you are currently enrolled in Original Medicare (Part A and Part B) and want a Silver Sneakers membership, you may want to wait for the Medicare Annual Election Period and see what Medicare Advantage plans are available in your area. Read more about enrolling in a Medicare Advantage plan. Remember, you must continue to pay your regular Part B premium every month, even if you enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan.
Not all Medicare Advantage plans offer additional benefits such as Silver Sneakers. Most Medicare Advantage plans include Medicare Part D coverage for prescription drugs.
Want to know which Medicare Advantage plans in your area offer Silver Sneakers memberships? You can find out right now. Just enter your zip code in the box on this page to display a list of local plans, and look at the benefits each of them offers.