Original Medicare does not cover SilverSneakers or other gym or fitness programs.
But many Medicare Advantage and some Medigap insurers provide free access to SilverSneakers and other exercise and wellness plans like Silver&Fit and Renew Active.
When shopping for Medicare Advantage or Medigap, we advise you to consider all costs and benefits before committing to a plan. While a fitness benefit can be a plus, it shouldn't be your main deciding factor — especially since insurers may drop coverage from one year to the next.
What is SilverSneakers?
SilverSneakers is a health and fitness program that provides gym access and fitness classes for people on Medicare, whether due to age or disability. SilverSneakers is covered by some Medicare Advantage and Medigap plans, but not by Original Medicare.
SilverSneakers benefits include:
- Access to fitness locations across the U.S.
- Group exercise, online or at the gym
- SilverSneakers online classes for other interests such as cooking and art
- A FLEX program to get you active in nontraditional places like malls and parks
- A highly rated SilverSneakers GO app
To join SilverSneakers, you must be enrolled in a Medicare Advantage or Medigap plan that offers the benefit. You can't buy a SilverSneakers membership on your own.
Does Original Medicare pay for SilverSneakers?
No, Original Medicare — also known as Medicare Part A and Part B — will not cover SilverSneakers.
If you have Original Medicare without a Medigap plan, you won't have access to SilverSneakers and will pay full price for any gym or fitness membership.
Do Medigap plans cover the SilverSneakers program?
Yes, some Medigap plans cover SilverSneakers. For example, Anthem, Humana and Blue Cross and Blue Shield Medigap plans provide SilverSneakers as an added benefit in some states. Renew Active, a similar fitness benefit, is available through AARP Medigap policies depending on the plan and location. Silver&Fit is another option that may be available through Medigap plans in your area.
SilverSneakers and other programs promote fitness and can save on the cost of a gym membership, which is an average of $50 per month across the U.S. But we advise comparing the costs and benefits of all 10 standardized Medigap plans, among multiple insurers, when choosing a policy.
While SilverSneakers is a free benefit, plans that include it might still be more expensive than comparable options.
For example, a cheap Medigap plan in Los Angeles without fitness benefits could save you $50 per month. If you take the cheaper plan and join a gym at a discounted rate, you'll save money each month.
Another reason to carefully review your Medigap options is that it can be hard to switch once you've committed to a plan.
Does Medicare Advantage pay for SilverSneakers?
Nearly all Medicare Advantage plans include SilverSneakers or other fitness programs with no added cost. Half of the major insurers have SilverSneakers or a similar benefit, including AARP, Aetna, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Cigna, Humana and Kaiser Permanente.
All the plans we reviewed cover free memberships in participating gyms across the U.S. and access to other wellness and mental fitness support services. Renew Active and Silver&Fit also provide home fitness kits for those who qualify.
All policies listed include free fitness benefits. Some insurers also have plans that charge for fitness coverage.
Regular exercise is good for overall health, and a SilverSneakers membership can help you achieve fitness goals. But when shopping for a Medicare Advantage plan, we don't recommend using SilverSneakers or a similar benefit as a major deciding factor. You'll want to make sure the plan is affordable, accepts your preferred doctors and covers prescriptions you take. If your ideal policy doesn't cover fitness, you can save in other ways like joining a gym with a senior discount.
How do I locate a SilverSneakers gym?
Once you join SilverSneakers, you can find local gyms by entering your ZIP code or address on the SilverSneakers website. If you want to narrow your search results, you can filter for options like gyms with a pool or group exercise classes. The website also has a section where you can view the online class schedule and join a group exercise session from home.
As a SilverSneakers member, you can use any participating gym in the U.S., even while traveling. You don't have to commit to a single facility.
Frequently asked questions
Can I use SilverSneakers at a YMCA?
You can use SilverSneakers at most YMCA facilities. But before you go, check the SilverSneakers website or call your local YMCA to be sure.
What are the SilverSneakers eligibility requirements?
To qualify for SilverSneakers, you must be on Medicare and have a Medigap or Medicare Advantage plan that provides the benefit. You can find participating insurers through the SilverSneakers website.
How can I find a SilverSneakers near me?
You can find a SilverSneakers gym using the Fitness Locations tool on the SilverSneakers website. Just enter your ZIP code or address, and the tool will show the participating fitness centers near you.
Why did AARP switch from SilverSneakers to Renew Active?
AARP's UnitedHealthcare plans dropped SilverSneakers to offer its own fitness and wellness plan, called Renew Active, which provides members with additional fitness resources. For example, Renew Active includes the Staying Sharp program to help members stay mentally active.
Information specific to SilverSneakers and other fitness programs was gathered from the respective program websites. Insurers' fitness plan offerings were confirmed through the company websites including AARP/UnitedHealthcare, Aetna, Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Cigna, Humana and Kaiser. We verified Medicare coverage of fitness benefits via Medicare.gov.