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Is Your Medicare Plan Dropping SilverSneakers?

Bad news for some Medicare Advantage and Medigap enrollees: some insurance providers are dropping coverage of the fitness program SilverSneakers starting in 2019. While the program is not covered under Original Medicare (Part A and Part B), it’s popular with Medicare Advantage and Medigap enrollees who have the benefit.

Who is dropping coverage?

Two AARP plans under UnitedHealthcare are dropping the program from their coverage. This move will affect Medicare Advantage enrollees in 11 states and Medigap enrollees in 9 states. It’s expected that 2.5 million people nationwide will lose their SilverSneakers coverage.

North Carolina will be the state hit the hardest by this move. However, North Carolinians won’t be left empty-handed. UnitedHealthcare is launching a rebranded fitness program called Renew Active, which is slated to launch January 1, 2019. Medicare Advantage enrollees in North Carolina with SilverSneakers coverage will be switched Renew Active at no additional cost.

UnitedHealthcare isn’t the only insurer to drop this program. In 2015, Humana dropped the program as well but brought it back shortly after due to consumer pushback.

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UnitedHealthcare’s response

Steve Warner, leader of the UnitedHealthcare product team, said 90 percent of policyholders with SilverSneakers coverage “never step foot in a gym.”

What is SilverSneakers?

SilverSneakers is a nationwide program dedicated to helping seniors get fit and stay healthy through routine exercise. As of 2018, about 3.5 million Medicare Advantage and Medigap policyholders benefit from this program.

SilverSneakers was created by Mary Swanson in 1992 after her father survived a heart attack at 51 and pledged to improve his health with regular physical activity. Now offered at more than 15,000 fitness locations across the country, you can choose between Zumba classes at one gym, free weights at another, and swim laps at yet another.

SilverSneakers offers more than 70 types of classes to choose from, including boot camp, circuit training, strength and balance, tai chi, yoga, and water aerobics. With SilverSneakers, you’ll never run out of choices or get bored of your exercise routine again.

Find out if your Medicare plan covers SilverSneakers.

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