Last year, UnitedHealthcare (UHC), the largest insurance carrier in the United States, announced that SilverSneakers ® would no longer be a plan benefit in 2019. The change would affect the entire UnitedHealthcare® family of products including the plans endorsed by the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP).
What Areas Are Affected?
As of January 1, 2019, UHC no longer offers SilverSneakers® with Medicare Advantage plans in 11 states:
- North Carolina
Along with Medicare Supplement (Medigap) plans in nine states:
- North Carolina
Why Did UHC and SilverSneakers® Part Ways?
According to Sam Warner, who leads UHC’s Medicare Advantage product team, the company’s move away from SilverSneakers® is to “reach a broader portion of our membership” with a “wider variety of fitness resources.” Warner noted that “over 90 percent of policyholders who are eligible for SilverSneakers® “never step foot in a gym.”
Will UnitedHealthcare offer any fitness benefit in 2020?
Yes. Starting in 2020, UHC will offer new fitness benefits* with some plans. As plans can vary in every zip code, ask your licensed agent whether or not this benefit can apply to you!
Medicare Advantage policyholders may be able to join a program called Renew Active™, which will replace SilverSneakers® in January 2020. The Renew Active™ benefit may include access to fitness centers, classes, and group activities along with tools to exercise your brain health.
*Always check with your doctor before starting any fitness program to make sure the program suits your individual needs.
How Does Renew Active™ Work?
The new Renew Active™ program includes a gym membership, an online “brain health program,” and access to local events. You can use the Renew Active™ website to find a facility close to you that participates in the program. Renew Active™ works with popular gym chains and local gyms. It may include some Planet Fitness locations, YMCAs, and more.
At no additional cost, Renew Active™ also comes with a personalized fitness plan. You’ll get an introductory one-on-one personal training session to set your initial goals and then you’ll be able to meet with your trainer at least yearly.
You’ll be able to work on strength, aquatic exercises, cardio, mind & body, and other specialty activities (like self-defense or Zumba®).
Renew Active™ can also coordinate with your Fitbit as well as your AARP® Staying Sharp program.
You can get Renew Active ™ if your UHC/AARP ™ Medicare plan supports it.
When Can I Enroll in a Medicare Advantage or Medicare Supplement Plan?
The Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) is from October 15 – December 7, which is the time of year many Medicare beneficiaries can enroll in new plans or make changes to existing ones.
Some members qualify for a Special Enrollment Period (SEP). Depending on your eligibility, you may have a lifelong SEP, which allows you to make one change per quarter for the first three quarters of the year — instead of only during AEP. Some people may only be eligible for a temporary SEP due to a life change, like moving to a new service area.
If you have just become eligible for Medicare for the first time, you can enroll in Medicare Advantage during your Initial Enrollment Period (IEP).
When You Can Enroll in Medicare Supplement Plans
Note: Don’t wait too long to enroll in Original Medicare because once you’re out of your IEP you may require underwriting, because insurance carriers aren’t required to honor your “Guaranteed Issue Rights”.
Tennessee YMCA Locations Breaks Partnership With SilverSneakers ®
In related news, the Tennessee State Alliance of YMCAs decided to leave the SilverSneakers® network. The change is effective January 1, 2020.
The two organizations parting ways means that you must find different coverage if you want to continue exercising at Tennessee YMCA locations.
Tennessee YMCA locations still accept Silver & Fit®, and you may be able to use Renew Fit.
Other Supplemental Benefits With Medicare Advantage Plans
Along with fitness benefits, some Medicare Advantage plans can offer coverage for vision, dental, and hearing services. Other supplemental benefits include meal delivery, non-emergency medical transportation, and drug coverage (prescription and over-the-counter).
Find Medicare Plans With a Fitness Benefit
If you want a Medicare plan with a fitness benefit or any other supplemental benefit, one of our licensed agents may be able to help. Our agents are highly trained and they can help you sort through the plans available in your location. To set up a no-cost, no-obligation appointment, call 844-431-1832 or contact us here today!
This blog was originally published on October 1, 2019. The latest update was on November 26, 2019.