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Is Yoga Covered by Your Health Insurance?

Last updated March 18th, 2020

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Practicing yoga can really improve your overall fitness and health. But class costs can add up to hundreds a month if you attend several times a week.1 

If you worry about the cost, you may wonder if your health insurance covers yoga. The answer? Usually no. Most insurance plans exclude yoga as a covered service. 

However, there are some exceptions to the rule. And, there may be other ways to save money on yoga classes through your insurance company. Here’s what you need to know.

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Will my health insurance cover yoga classes?

Health insurance typically won’t cover yoga classes. In most cases, you’ll have to pay for it yourself. However, you may be able to get some coverage if you have certain types of insurance. 

If your insurance is through your employer

If you get insurance through an employer, it likely doesn’t include coverage for yoga classes. A handful of plans will cover alternative therapies like acupuncture and yoga, but they may be prohibitively expensive.2 

If your insurance plan is through the Affordable Care Act

If you get your plan through a state or federal health insurance marketplace, it won’t cover yoga classes or gym membership fees. The Affordable Care Act requires insurance companies to provide coverage for preventative health services, such as immunizations and annual screenings. It does not require insurers to cover alternative or complementary medicine, which is how yoga is usually classified.3

If you’re in Medicare

If you enrolled in Original Medicare, your plan doesn’t cover gym memberships or fitness programs.4 

However, you may be able to get coverage for yoga classes if you have Medicare Advantage. Medicare Advantage offers services, such as vision, dental and wellness programs, that Original Medicare does not.5 In some cases, you can get free access to fitness equipment and group exercise classes, which may include yoga classes.6 

If you’re in Medicaid

Medicaid doesn’t typically cover yoga classes. Medicaid’s mandatory benefits include inpatient and outpatient hospital services, physician services, and laboratory and x-ray services. States administer their own Medicaid programs, so some could include additional benefits like physical therapy and occupational therapy. You may get coverage if your prescribed physical or occupational therapy includes yoga.7 

If you have an HSA, FSA, or HRA

If you have a savings account for medical expenses or get reimbursed for insurance expenses from your employer, you can use those funds to reimburse yourself for eligible healthcare expenses. Potential funds include: 

  • Health Savings Account (HSA): If you have a high-deductible health plan, you may have an HSA. An HSA is an account you own to pay for eligible healthcare expenses. 
  • Health Reimbursement Account (HRA): Your employer owns your HRA account and contributes money to it. 
  • Flexible Spending Account (FSA): An FSA can be available from an employer-sponsored plan or an individual plan. You can use the FSA to cover medical expenses that your health plan doesn’t cover. 

If a licensed healthcare provider diagnosed you with a medical condition and recommended that you attend yoga, expenses paid for yoga classes are often reimbursable from your HRA, FSA, or HSA.8 

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How Do I Find Out if My Insurance Covers Yoga?

When reviewing your health plan documents, it may not be immediately obvious if your plan covers yoga or not. To find out, check your plan’s list of excluded services. This list details what services your plan will not cover under any circumstances. It may state that alternative therapies like massage, yoga, and acupuncture are not covered. 

If it’s not clear, contact your insurance company’s customer service department. Explain your health condition and stress that your doctor recommended yoga as a treatment. Then, ask if there is any way to get coverage for some or all of your yoga classes. The representative will give you a definitive answer. 

Make sure to keep notes. Write down when you called and whom you spoke with. Having that information is essential if your insurance company denies your yoga coverage. 

What Are Others Ways To Get Coverage?

There are ways you can make yoga more affordable even if your insurance doesn’t cover yoga classes. 

Check if your insurer offers a discount program

Several insurers offer discount programs. It’s not insurance coverage. Instead, they partner with companies to offer savings on equipment and gym memberships.  

  • Aetna: With the Aetna Fitness discount program, you can save money on gym memberships, yoga mats, and other fitness equipment.9 
  • Blue Cross Blue Shield: As a Blue Cross Blue Shield member, you have access to the Blue 365 program. This program offers discounts on a wide range of apparel and services, including LiveKick, a yoga video class.10 
  • Cigna: Through Cigna’s Health Rewards program, you can get discounts on Yoga DVDs, mats, and accessories.11 

Ask if yoga is covered under fitness or weight-loss reimbursement benefits

If your plan doesn’t cover yoga, you may have another way to get some help with class costs. Some insurers offer partial reimbursement for fitness or weight-loss programs. Some insurance programs will reimburse you or yoga classes that you take at eligible fitness studios.12 

For example, United Healthcare’s Sweat Equity Program gives eligible members up to $200 for attending fitness classes. To qualify for the $200 reimbursement, you must complete at least 50 classes within a six-month period. Qualifying classes include yoga, aerobics, and more.13 

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The Bottom Line

While most insurance plans don’t cover yoga classes, you can still find ways to receive discounts or reimbursement for some expenses. If you’re not sure what kind of savings your insurance plan offers, contact your insurer directly. You may be surprised to find out how much you can save. 

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Article Sources
  1. K., Jen. “How Much Do Yoga Lessons Cost?” lessons.com (accessed January 1, 2020).

  2. Carr, Teresa. “Does Insurance Cover Acupuncture and Other Nondrug Therapies?” Consumer Reports, May 4, 2017 (accessed January 1, 2020).

  3. U.S. Government Publishing Office. “Compilation Of Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.” govinfo.gov (accessed January 1, 2020).

  4. U.S. Government Website for Medicare. “Gym Memberships & Fitness Programs.” medicare.gov (accessed January 1, 2020).

     

  5. U.S. Government Website for Medicare.“Medicare Advantage Programs Cover All Medicare Services.” medicare.gov (accessed January 1, 2020).

  6. Silver Sneakers. “Silversneakers Yoga.” silversneakers.com (accessed January 1, 2020).

  7. U.S. Government Website for Medicaid. “Benefits.” medicaid.gov (accessed January 1, 2020).

  8. Cigna. “Which Expenses Are Eligible for HSA, FRA, and HRA Reimbursement?” cigna.com (accessed January 1, 2020).

  9. Aetna. “Programs to Help You be Well and Save Money.” aetna.com (accessed January 1, 2020).

  10. Blue365. “Fitness Deals.” blue365.com (accessed January 1, 2020).

  11. Cigna. “Order. Save. Pose. Repeat.” cigna.com (accessed January 1, 2020).

  12. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Massachusetts. “2019 Product & Benefit Updates.” bluecrossma.com (accessed January 1, 2020).

  13. United Healthcare. “Exercise and Get Rewarded.” myuhc.com (accessed January 1, 2020).