Does Your Health Insurance Provider Offer a Gym Membership Benefit?
by Jim Davies, manager, Franklin Wellness Center

Health insurance providers have a vested interest in you staying healthy.  

The cost of physical inactivity and sedentary behavior is staggering. Some studies indicate that as much as 87.5 percent of all healthcare claims are driven by lifestyle choices. Excess weight and a sedentary lifestyle are even risk factors for one-quarter to one-third of all common cancers in the United States.

Physical activity is a key component to improving and maintaining an individual’s overall well-being. When a person increases physical activity from zero to one time per week to more than three times per week, his or her medical costs can decrease by $2,202 per year.

Many companies offer discounts or reimbursements for gym memberships.

Silver Sneakers is a fitness program for seniors included with many Medicare Advantage plans. Besides gym access, Silver Sneakers offers classes, instructor certifications, a merchandise website, and a blog.   Silver Sneakers is a product of Tivity Heatlh.  Tivity Health was founded in 1981 and is headquartered in Franklin, TN.  

Silver And Fit is a fitness and healthy aging program designed to help club members achieve better heath through regular exercise.  It is a program offered by American Specialty Health (ASH).   ASH started in 1987 founded as a chiropractic network and management company in Southern California.  Joining a facility, home fitness kits, a resource library, an app and a reward program are available.

Blue365 is a program sponsored by local Blue Companies.  Iowa Blue Cross Blue Shield is one of 36 Blue Cross and/or Blue Shield companies.  Blue365 provides access to a wide range of savings from top health and wellness brands.   One benefit of Blue365 is to access a membership in GlobalFit, a network of participating partners, such as Anytime Fitness and Planet Fitness.  Memberships are at a discount between 5% to 20%.

Gym memberships or fitness programs may be part of the extra coverage offered by Medicare Advantage Plans, other Medicare health plans, or Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap) plans. In Iowa, participating health plans with Silver Sneakers are Bankers Life, Aetna, Humana, and Medica.  

SilverSneakers Annual Participant Survey of more than 26,000 members reveals that older Americans are exercising and socializing to improve and maintain their health to lead an active lifestyle as they age. More than 91 percent of members shared that the program has improved their quality of life and 90 percent feel healthier overall, and 94 percent say their health is good, very good or excellent

A study published in the Centers for Disease Control Journal Preventing Chronic Disease found that Silver Sneakers participants incurred $500 less in total healthcare costs during the second year and had fewer hospital admissions in years one and two compared with the control group. More frequent participation was associated with greater cost savings.

Fitness and socialization motives older adults to live life well.  Call your health insurance provider to see if your plan covers gym memberships or fitness programs.