What Health Insurance Pays for Gym Membership?
Physical activity is an important part of your overall health, whether you’re a kid, a teenager, an adult, or a senior citizen. Exercise is important for all groups of people. Over the years, the ways in which you exercise may change and the overall impact and benefits are always there. For a kid, it could be running around outside with friends. For a senior, a brisk walk can get the job done. Exercise isn’t just important to help reduce your risk for a number of health conditions, but it can also help with your mental health and your overall moods and happiness.
“Regular exercise can have a profoundly positive impact on depression, anxiety, ADHD, and more. It also relieves stress, improves memory, helps you sleep better, and boosts your overall mood. And you don’t have to be a fitness fanatic to reap the benefits,” via helpguide.org.
Because exercise helps reduce your likelihood to have numerous health complications and leads to a healthier overall life, some insurance companies like to incentivize their customers to stay fit.
Will a health insurance plan help pay for my gym membership?
Healthy clients are a benefit for health insurance companies because it means they will have to pay less money towards medical claims. While many carriers might not pay for your gym membership entirely, many are starting to offer fitness-related incentives to attract customers while also encouraging a healthy lifestyle.
That said, the following health insurance carriers may help cover the cost of a gym membership through some of their plans: (source)
- Horizon BCBS
- Blue Cross Blue Shield
Before committing to a health insurance plan, it’s important to confirm what fitness or healthy lifestyle incentives are available and what you need to do to qualify for them. In some cases, the hoops you have to jump through in order to claim a minor benefit might not even be worth the effort, but in other cases it could be very worthwhile.
What fitness-related benefits can I expect from a health insurance plan?
As mentioned above, healthy clients benefit health insurance carriers by reducing the amount of medical claims processed each year. Therefore, it’s cost-effective for carriers to offer their clients fitness-related benefits as encouragement to live a healthy lifestyle. Benefits will vary between carriers, but you can expect incentives like: reimbursement and/or stipends, carrier-exclusive discounts, senior discounts and/or programs, incentive programs, and help paying for exercise equipment.
Reimbursement and/or stipends
While your health insurance plan might not cover the full cost of a gym membership, it’s not uncommon for carriers to reimburse between $100 and $400 per year towards membership costs or fitness classes.
To be eligible for reimbursement you will be required to show proof of payment and that you were an active member at a fitness facility. Some carriers may even request that you log your workouts and maintain your membership for a specific number of months.
Some health insurance carriers will offer fitness-related discounts to their customers through an online marketplace. This could include exclusive prices or memberships to popular fitness chains or discounts on popular products like Fitbit and Apple Watch, healthy meal delivery, and athletic apparel.
Senior discounts and/or programs
Some health insurance carriers offer a service called Silver Sneakers which is available to people 65 or older. This service is a great deal for seniors as it can provide free memberships to most big gym chains, video libraries of workouts and plans, and may even provide workouts geared towards seniors.
Many health insurance carriers offer incentive-based rewards or reimbursement to clients who achieve certain goals. This could include receiving rewards for completing a weight loss program and tracking your progress, or receiving reimbursement upon the completion of eligible fitness programs.
It’s important to mention that you may be able to dispute coverage with your carrier if there are fitness classes, gyms, or programs you would like to join that aren’t initially covered by your plan.
Help paying for exercise equipment
This isn’t as common, but some health insurance plans may include reimbursement towards the purchase of eligible gym equipment like dumbbells, ellipticals, weight lifting machines, treadmills, and more.
You may also be eligible for coverage if your doctor agrees that fitness equipment is medically necessary, like in the case of obesity or hypertension. This will take more work than asking your doctor for approval and often involves the development of a treatment plan.
I’m a senior, will Medicare pay for my gym membership?
Unfortunately, Original Medicare will not help cover the cost of a gym membership. However, some Medicare Advantage plans may offer fitness incentives so it’s worth shopping around if that is a benefit that interests you.
Thoughts on Medicare/Health Insurance Paying for Gym Memberships
Despite the countless health benefits that come from physical fitness and exercise, it’s still not common for insurance companies or other healthcare providers to offer gym members. You’ll find, more commonly, other types of subsidies or benefits to physical health, but even those aren’t necessairly going to exist with every plan.
Since gym memberships aren’t incredibly expensive compared to what some people pay for their coverage, it’s usually not a deal breaker, but if you’ve got health insurance and you have a gym membership, it’s worth seeing if your membership can be covered or subsidized at all.
If you can’t get any coverage for a gym membership but you can still afford one, you don’t need an insurance company or the government to give you permission or enable you to take better care of your body – you can do that on your own! If you can’t afford a gym membership, there is still a lot of stuff you can do at home, without any equipment, not to mention simply going for a walk or a run everyday.
If a health insurance plan does cover a lot of little extras like this, you may as well take advantage of them which is why it’s always a good idea to read closely and to understand your coverage.