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What Is Silver Sneakers?

If you have a Medicare Supplement or Medicare Advantage plan, it's time to put on your Silver Sneakers.

October 26, 2018 - By Terri Hardin - read

Currently, there are about 74 million Baby Boomers (52 to 70) living today. If you’re reading this, you are probably one of them. And if you are, there’s a pair of Silver Sneakers waiting for you.

The way this generation perceives of itself is something uniquely Boomer – they think of themselves as young, no matter what! They’ve already moved the mid century goalpost of 50 back a decade (“50 is the new 40”) and plan to move it many more times before they’re through.

If YOU are one of these many new enrollees – and you want to stay active – then you should take a look at Medicare gym benefits for seniors. The most popular gym benefit is called SilverSneakers.doctor test page break

Which Medicare Companies Offer SilverSneakers?

Do you want to enroll in SilverSneakers? Here’s a list of insurers that offer the program in 2019. (updated 10/2018)

Note that these companies may change their status, and your insurer may be listed under an unfamiliar name. Always confirm that your plan offers a specific program before joining.

INSURANCE COMPANIES WITH SILVER SNEAKERS IN 2+ STATES:

AARP: AR, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DC, GA, IL, IN, NC, NE, PA, SC, UT, VA

Aetna: AL, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DC, DE, GA, IL, IN, KY, LA, MA, MD, ME, MI, MO, MS, NC, NJ, NV, NY, OH, PA, SC, TN, TX, UT, VA, WA, WI, WY

Aetna Coventry: AR, FL, GA, IA, IL, KS, LA, MO, NC, NE, OH, OK, PA, SD, UT

AmeriGroup: NJ, NM, TN, TX, WA

Anthem: CA, CO, CT, GA, IN, KY, ME, NH, NV, OH, WI

BankersLife: AZ, DE, GA, IA, IL, MD, NE, NV, OH, SC

Blue Cross Blue Shield: AL, AR, GA, IL, KS, MI, MO, MT, ND, NE, NM, NY, OK, TN, TX

Blue Shield: CA, NY

CareFirst: CA, DC, MD, TX, VA

Clover: GA, NJ, PA, TX

Eon: GA, SC

Fallon Health Weinberg: MA, NY

Gateway: KY, NC, OH, PA

Highmark: PA, WV

Humana: AK, AL, AR, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DE, FL, GA, HI, IA, ID, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, MS, MT, NC, ND, NE, NH, NJ, NM, NV, NY, OH, OK, OR, PA, PR, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VA, WA, WI, WV, WY

Kaiser Permanente: CO, GA

Medica: IA, MN, ND, NE, SD, WI

Mutual of Omaha: KY, OH, TX

MVP:  NY, VT

Paramount Elite: MI, OH

The Health Plan: OH, WV

UnitedHealthCare: AL, AR, AZ, CA, CO, CT, GA, HI, IA, ID, IL, IN, KS, LA, MA, ME, MO, NC, NE, NH, NM, NV, NY, PA, RI, SC, TN, UT, VA, VT, WV

UPMC for Life: OH, PA

WellCare: AR, FL, GA, IL, KY, MS, NC, NJ, NY, SC, TN, TX

LOCAL MEDICARE PROVIDERS WITH SILVER SNEAKERS IN 1 STATE:

California: Scan

Connecticut: Connecticare

Florida: AvMed, BayCare Plus, CarePlus, Devoted Care, Florida Blue, Freedom Health, Health Sun, Optimum, Simply Healthcare, Ultimate

Illinois: Community Care

Louisiana: Vantage

Massachusetts: FallonHealth, Tufts

Minnesota: UCare

Missouri: CoxHealth, Essence

Nevada: CareMore

New Mexico: Presbyterian

New York: Affinity Health Group, AgeWell NY, CD PHP, Emblem Health, Empire Blue, VNS NY Choice

Ohio: Aetna MyCare Ohio, CareSource, Medical Mutual, MediGold, Paramount, SummaCare

Pennsylvania: Independence

South Carolina: America’s 1st Choice

Texas: Kelsey Care

Virginia: Anthem HealthKeepers, Innovation, Piedmont Medicare

Wisconsin: iCare, iCare Aurora, Network Health, weaTrust

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What is SilverSneakers?

The program was started in 1992 by Mary Swanson, who was inspired by watching her father’s devotion to exercise following a heart attack. Now in its 26th year, the Silver Sneakers program provides free or discounted gym memberships to seniors aged 65 or older.

More than 14,000 gyms and other organizations participate around the country. Administered by Tivity Health, Silver Sneakers is offered to more than 15 million Medicare beneficiaries through their Medicare Advantage plans, Medicare Supplement carriers and group retiree plans.

It’s likely there is a participating gym near you. The Silver Sneakers website has a place for you to check your eligibility and find the most convenient gym locations.

Fitness centers and Medicare plans nationwide work with Silver Sneakers. Click To Tweet

New SilverSneakers Programs: The original Silver Sneakers offered classes like Classic, CardioFit, Circuit, Stability and Splash (aquacise). Two new offshoots – BOOM (instructor-led, high-impact exercise) and FLEX (held in non-gym environments) – have expanded the program considerably.

SilverSneakers Is NOT Automatically Covered By Medicare:

Silver Sneakers has a unique relationship with Medicare. Silver Sneakers is a gym program, not a medical benefit, so your Original Medicare (Part A and B) won’t cover it. Instead, different Medicare Advantage and Medicare Supplement companies have the choice to offer Silver Sneakers to their plan members.

Medicare Advantage and #Medicare Supplement coverage can have SilverSneakers included. Click To Tweet

Original Medicare does not include Silver Sneakers, although you may receive access through a supplementary plan. If Silver Sneakers is a part of your plan, it will usually be free.

Why Is SilverSneakers So Special?

Health remains the key benefit for Silver Sneakers. According to Becker’s Hospital Review, program participants shave more than $2000 off their annual medical costs, compared to non-participants. But there are so many other benefits, including:

  • Social Life: As was mentioned earlier, some areas of the U.S. are skewing older than others. This has led to feelings of isolation and depression among seniors. Tivity Health commissioned a national poll and found that, for rural seniors, “nearly one-third (29%) do not have social interaction on a daily basis, and many rural seniors are dealing with physical impairments such as vision loss (39%), hearing loss (36%), and loss of mobility (23%).” An additional finding was that “seniors living in rural areas (64%) feel social isolation has a negative impact on physical health.” Engaging in a group activity can help diminish the isolation you feel and is likely to have a beneficial impact on your outlook.
  • Economic Impact: Convening participants use the gym and then may shop and go out for coffee with friends, creating a positive economic impact on local businesses. In fact, at the Dinah Gore Fitness and Aquatics Center of Brunswick Community College (DGFAC) in Wilmington, NC, Silver Sneakers programs account for 37 percent of its group classes; and more than half of its membership are 55 or older, according to WilmingtonBiz.
  • Dive Into That Fountain of Youth! As anyone who has ever attended a high-school reunion can recall, first you gasp at how old everyone looks, then you forget about it. It’s because you’re with people with whom you once shared youth. It’s a good feeling!

These are the benefits you’ll want to consider as you check for Silver Sneakers insurers available in your area. BUT be sure to ask how and if the program is covered by Part C (Medicare Advantage) and Medigap insurers like Humana/Cigna/AARP-UHC. It seems that some Medicare Supplement insurers are pulling back on programs like Silver Sneakers in 2019.

It’s important to confirm Silver Sneakers with your health insurance broker directly, as sometimes old and erroneous information is left on insurance company websites. A plan comparison website like HealthCare.com can help.

Signing Up for SilverSneakers

  1. Learn more on the Silver Sneakers website.
  2. Ask your gym or fitness studio of choice if they partner with Silver Sneakers.
  3. If you don’t have a Medicare Supplement or Medicare Advantage plan that includes Silver Sneakers, search HealthCare.com to join a local insurer that supports the program.

For the Boomer generation, age is just a frame of mind. Boomers are, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, the largest living adult population in the U.S. – and have been so for decades.

As of 2018, more than 10,000 Boomers turn 65 each day. Some will be retiring, some will be remaining in the workforce – but most will be applying for Medicare. Once that Medicare comes, it may be time to put on your Silver Sneakers.

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