This is a question we get often for many of the plans and companies we offer. Each company handles member benefits differently, and other than rate and acceptance, this is what distinguishes one company from the other.
Because United Healthcare is one of the largest providers of Medicare Supplement products, we’re frequently asked if United Healthcare offers SilverSneakers.
In this article, we will give you a brief overview of the Silver Sneakers program, United Healthcare, and how the company interacts with Silver Sneakers.
What is SilverSneakers?
SilverSneakers, available through Medicare, is an exercise program to promote activity and well-being among seniors.
Even during the current coronavirus pandemic, SilverSneakers in 2021 provides online workout programs to keep seniors active at home. There are over 17,000 locations available that allow seniors to receive customized workout planning and support so they can stay healthy and active. Each instructor is certified to provide the most effective SilverSneakers experience possible. Over 70 different classes are available to help improve every part of the body.
SilverSneakers was founded by Mary Swanson in 1992 after her father survived a heart attack. From this point, she vowed to prevent another heart attack by increasing his physical activity and overall wellness. Out of this journey, she laid the foundation for SilverSneakers, bringing gyms around the country together to provide fitness services to seniors. Medicare soon picked up this program as a benefit for seniors.
Tivity Health is the current supporter of the SilverSneakers program. Throughout their time in the industry, they have developed solutions for healthy living. SilverSneakers is one of their many wellness solutions, ensuring that everyone lives healthy and happy lives.
What Does SilverSneakers Offer?
SilverSneakers provides a variety of programs for seniors looking for a healthier lifestyle. Not only is the programming top notch, it is freely available to anyone who qualifies! Members can access a wide variety of classes for all types of fitness goals or needs. Some of these include yoga, weightlifting, cardio and swimming. Each class is tailored to each member, even their physical limitations.
Each gym offers an array of equipment available to each member. Class-based instruction may not be what fits some, so a full gym of equipment is open for use. Members can also use the SilverSneakers mobile app to track their workouts, in and out of the gym. Certified trainers will always be there to support your plan, even if it is not in a class setting.
Outside of the gym, members are provided with 24/7 online training videos, allowing members to work out even when the gym is closed. Social gatherings are also available to members who want to meet up outside of a workout.
Every facility offered to members is available for use. If you’re on vacation and looking for a workout, you can use a nearby SilverSneakers gym to keep working toward fitness goals. New members should not be intimidated, either. SilverSneakers offers plenty of programs for members who have not been to the gym in a while.
Benefits of Silver Sneakers
Social interaction and physical activity becomes more important the older you get. SilverSneakers makes this their goal when providing their services. Seniors will have a safe place to interact and exercise with other seniors.
Social interactions can have a major impact on well-being, especially for seniors. The older you get, the harder it is to get out and socially interact. SilverSneakers promotes this social interaction. In addition to workout classes, gatherings are held for members who want to get together and relax. Socializing is a major way to fight depression, which can be an issue for seniors. Mental and physical well-being go hand-in-hand, which is a major goal for SilverSneakers.
Silver and Fit vs. SilverSneakers
While both Silver and Fit and SilverSneakers are available through Medicare, there are some key differences that set each program apart. Eligibility is the same, so it is up to the user which one they prefer.
SilverSneakers, by far, has more locations available to seniors, with 17,000 gyms available. Silver and Fit has about 11,000 locations nationwide. Despite the lack of locations on the part of Silver and Fit, they provide 17 different home fitness kits that allow seniors to work out on their own time from the comfort of their home. This is great for people who do not want the instructor style of workout, which is what SilverSneakers excels at. Along with instructor-based fitness in a SilverSneakers gym, they offer instruction outside of the facility in classes such as yoga and Tai Chi.
SilverSneakers membership may seem too good to be true because the 17,000 gyms and 70 classes are free. One in 5 seniors qualify and most might not even be aware of the benefits. If you have original Medicare plans A or B, you probably do not qualify. Medicare Advantage, otherwise known as plan C, can provide SilverSneakers as a benefit.
The SilverSneakers website offers an eligibility checker that easily allows seniors to see their eligibility without needing to sift through Medicare information. Chances are you are probably eligible. If you are looking for a Medicare plan that provides SilverSneakers as a benefit, plans will have it listed as a benefit.
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Does Medicare Pay for SilverSneakers?
SilverSneakers is a wellness program and not a medical benefit, so it is not covered under traditional Medicare. However, many companies do offer this benefit through either their Medical Supplement product or their Medicare Advantage plan.
How Do I Get Enrolled in Silver Sneakers?
The Silver Sneakers benefit varies from plan to plan. While not covered by original Medicare, some supplements do offer SilverSneakers. Through the SilverSneakers website, seniors who want to use this program can use the eligibility checker. This will provide more information on whether you are eligible. Seniors can also check with their Medicare provider for more information.
Let’s go through the SilverSneakers relationship with United Healthcare.
United Healthcare Facts
United Healthcare was founded by Richard Taylor Burke in Minnetonka, Minnesota as Charter Med Inc. in 1974. By 1977, Charter Med became officially known as United Healthcare. Throughout the 1990s, United HealthCare acquired Healthwise of America, Ramsey-HMO and MetraHealth, allowing them to provide healthcare benefits nationwide.
United Healthcare is split into four services specializing in different health plans for different people. Unitedhealthcare Employer and Individual provides health benefit plans to employers nationwide, Medicare and Retirement provides Medicare plans for seniors, Community and State provides plans for lower-income or impoverished families and communities, and Global which offers similar services worldwide.
Read our full review of United HealthCare Medicare Supplement.
United Healthcare and Silver Sneakers
After learning about Silver Sneakers, you are probably impressed with the program. You can imagine yourself in a gym getting fit or adhering to a nutritional plan, and feeling 30 again. But there’s more to the story…
As of October 2019, United Healthcare announced that it will no longer offer SilverSneakers as a benefit. Anyone who was not enrolled in United Healthcare’s plans by January 2021 will not be able to access SilverSneakers as a benefit.
This drop in support is not a falling-out between the companies. NPR even did a story on the breakup.
But you still might be shocked, considering the benefits and robustness of Silver Sneakers. United Healthcare found that despite offering SilverSneakers, 90% of those who have the benefit never set foot in a SilverSneakers gym. Many Medicare recipients may have not been aware of the benefit, thus not using it. Those who reap the benefits of this program will, however, be supported.
United Healthcare is not alone in ending their relationship with Silver Sneakers.
The Tennessee YMCA and BlueCross BlueShield have ended their relationship with Silver Sneakers in all their locations.
Tivity Health announced that if you are already enrolled in United Healthcare’s plans and receive SilverSneakers as a benefit, then it will remain available to you through December 31, 2022.
United Healthcare’s New Program – Renew Active
Despite the partnership between SilverSneakers and United Healthcare ending, United Healthcare is promoting fitness for seniors with a new program.
Renew Active is a new program that is covered by United Healthcare to promote the same fitness goals seniors have been achieving through SilverSneakers.
Along with typical workout routines, Renew Active provides brain fitness activities. This program, known as AARP Staying Sharp, comes at no additional cost to subscribers who already receive Renew Active as a benefit. Staying Sharp allows users to take a quiz that builds a personalized routine. Articles on mental fitness and workouts are all provided virtually.
Renew Active provides many of the same benefits as SilverSneakers. Gyms are available to members at no additional cost with instruction-based classes and open gym equipment. Renew Active also offers a FitBit sponsored community in which members can track their progress with other members, supporting the social aspect of this program.
Regardless of your fitness level, you can find programs that fit your needs. Here are some examples of programs available:
- Strength programs including dumbbells, kettlebells, resistance bands, calisthenics
- Aquatic programs such as water yoga, aqua aerobics, and swimming
- Cardio such as cycling, kickboxing and aerobics.
- Speciality programs such as personal training, Zumba, and self-defense
- Mind/Body activities like yoga, pilates, and tai chi
If you are worried about transitioning to Renew Active, check out fitness locations in your area. Their simple locator service will give you all the resources you need.
When any company changes programs, it can cause doubt or stress for current policyholders or for those considering a new company. We believe the programs United Healthcare has created are comparable to Silver Sneakers.
But if you are committed to the Silver Sneakers program, we can help you compare Medicare Supplement plans with that benefit.
Many of our other companies offer Silver Sneakers, and letting us run a comparison will help you decide which plan is the best fit for your needs and budget.
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