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Regular Contributor

Silver Sneakers being droped by AARP recommended insurer

I guess like all who have the "silver sneakers" card will become another worthless trash item.

United Health Care will discontinue your membership starting 1/1/18.

I am glad I went and purchased my own gym since but it is my guess that many others

do not have the money or the room for it like I do.

I had been using mine for treadmill and sauna during the cold times. the rest of the year i was

wlaking locally or golf course walking and swinging.

 

I think AARP might just search out another insurance company....as I might do on my own.....

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Contributor

Went into silver sneakers web site and was told i no longer have my silver sneakers.....I am very anger with all their bull .....no sneakers no hearing aids no compression socking for for my legs ..no shoes....and who knows what else. I am a diabetic and these things I need....guess i will have look for new Insurance
Periodic Contributor

I had Silver Sneakers with my old plan.  I switched to United Health Care AARP Medicare Advantage Plan and was told Optum Fitness is replacing Silver Sneakers.  So I was very worried about this but was assured that it would cover the same things as Silver Sneakers.  Well I had my 4th back surgery and I use the aqua therapy classes that I have used for year with my Silver Sneakers Plan.  When I went in a week ago to sign up for the new Optum I was told I can use the classes but now have to pay for them.  I was told they are only free for the Silver Sneakers people.  And the nice woman at our city Recreation Center told me that the Optum people were told that we cannot use the classes.  So I was totally mislead when I changed my plan.  And there is nothing I can do until open enrollment.  If they are staying with Optum and not going back to Silver Sneakers I will no longer stay with this plan.  So terribly disappointed that I was lied to by the person selling me this plan.  

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Periodic Contributor

Dear AARP,

Frankly, I am astonished by your response. It was my understanding that AARP were advocates for Seniors, not UHC. This email says absolutely nothing about the concerns many of us have over this.

By discontinuing the opportunity for millions of Americans to have access to a free fitness program in a local gym, you will in effect be cutting off the opportunity to stave off hundreds of diseases. It was AARP who previously argued how important physical exercise is for Seniors; that it controls Diabetes, Dementia, Parkinsons, Cardiovascular disease, Arthritis, etc. etc. Without free access to gyms, millions of Americans will be heading for disaster. Shame on you, AARP.

It is hard to get many Americans to go to exercise. And by charging them the 50 percent to go to a fitness facility, UHC will be forcing them to pay and sum of money many of them can't afford for something they will not be motivated to do. It was the free aspect that motivated many of them. What, I can go to a gym for free? Let's go! Many a senior has thought this and improved their life through exercise. Silver Sneakers is such a wonderful program. How could you just let it go?

And, come on now, do you really believe that watching videos and sitting immobile in front of a computer or TV to get information is anything but worthless to the health of seniors, as compared with actually getting out there to a gym? They may look at exercise videos, but most of them will not be motivated to get up and do them all alone in their own home. There's absolutely no motivation. Added to this, people are sick of watching a talking head telling them what to do. It can even undermine their desire to improve their health. There is no better motivation than going to a room dedicated to exercise that has other people like you exercising.

I do not understand how you are allowing this to happen to a health plan that you partner with? It is difficult to see anything other answer than greed as a motivation for this new policy. If it is greed, I have a way to save you and the whole healthcare industry alot of money. Cut off the funds for the useless informational and exercise videos that involve just sitting inactive at a computer and send Seniors back to the free gyms!
Honored Social Butterfly

@MaryL1957

 

This sort of benefit for either of the programs limits their coverage to "Participating facilities".  

 

Have you determined which facilities take the Optum Fitness Advantage program in your area?  Most likely the facilities differ between the two programs.

 

Optum Fitness Advantage

This website will allow you to find a participating facility.

 

BTW, Optum Fitness, OptumRX, AARP United Healthcare Medicare Advantage, AARP Medicare Supplemental plans, any United Healthcare plan are ALL part of the United Health Group - they are just subsidiaries of the same overall business.

AARP just partners with this group, as well as others, to offer benefits to their Members and AARP does get money for this relationship.

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Periodic Contributor

I was told the facility which is my community recreation center would take Optum Fitness and I would continue getting my classes for free. I previously had Silver Sneakers. However, when I went to get my card I was told the facility will take Optum but I am no longer able to go to my classes (Silver Sneaker classes) for free. I was totally mislead when I signed up and that makes me very upset.
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Honored Social Butterfly


@MaryL1957 wrote:
I was told the facility which is my community recreation center would take Optum Fitness and I would continue getting my classes for free. I previously had Silver Sneakers. However, when I went to get my card I was told the facility will take Optum but I am no longer able to go to my classes (Silver Sneaker classes) for free. I was totally mislead when I signed up and that makes me very upset.

Here is the November 2017 announcement on the Optum Fitness Advantage program available to individual Medicare Advantage members in some states.

 

Star Tribune 11.06.2017'- UnitedHealth Group enters senior fitness market race.

 

Things "told" sometimes get miscommunicated especially since this is a very new progra

To double check what you have been told, put your location into the Optum Fitness Advantage participating fitness participants and see which facilities come up.  

 

That location should offer the things covered in the agreement which they have with United Health Group.  From the press release, it says:

 

In Minnesota, UnitedHealthcare doesn't currently sell Medicare Advantage plans, so the news won't impact subscribers here. The new Optum program gives Medicare Advantage customers in states like Arizona and Texas access to a large network of participating fitness centers.

 

"Plan participants will have access to the same services, privileges, classes and programs as the fitness centers' standard members, including waiver of all enrollment fees," UnitedHealthcare said Monday in a statement announcing the program.

 

This is exactly what the agreement says to participating facilities.

https://s3.amazonaws.com/gfit-omas/public/files/2/Gym_Informational_Flyer.pdf

 

There is also a place on the Optum Fitness Advantage website where you can ask them to solicite a particular facility to enroll in the program.

 

Perhaps the class which you want isn't part of the standard membership .

If that is the case, and this class was something specific to your previous Silver Sneakers plan and since there is now more competition in this senior fitness program, before you switch back to another Medicare Advantage plan still offering 

the Silver Sneakers program, you should make sure that their plan hasn't changed too.

 

These fitness programs are an extra benefit - not one that is mandated by Medicare - so they can change, modify, stop at will unless it is specifically covered in the ANNUAL Medicare Advantage plans benefit description disclosure and then it is only an annual benefit.

 

If this is an important part of the coverage you desire in a Medicare health plan, check it out at the annual open enrollment.

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Periodic Contributor

Nope not the case.  My classes were the silver sneaker classes.  My rec center which is in Medina Ohio said they are not allowing the Optum people to be part of the silver sneaker classes.  They said the Optum people came in to talk with them and they said their attorneys said no optum people can join the silver sneaker classes unless they pay for it.  It makes sense.  Why should Optum get to have free classes under the silver sneakers plan.  If that is the case then they should not have changed.  I was told it was going to be a wonderful program.  So far it is not.  I am asking my agent to look for a new plan for me this year that includes silver sneakers.

Newbie

This comment appears to be from an AARP ./ UHC spokesperson reciting the same information we got in the letter.  Identify yourself if that is the case.

UHC Medicare Supplement members who use Silver Sneakers are the ones who take health the most seriously and understand the importance of physical activity for preventative care.  With this abandonment of Silver Sneakers, UHC was hypocritical about how important Silver Sneakers was in the past.  UHC rationale for dropping coverage can only be because it puts more $$ in their pockets. Like many of the worst companies, UHC will only do the minimum required, in this case, only what the government says they have to do (your words in the next to last paragraph)..

UHC will lose their best clients, i.e., those who use Silver Sneakers and likely have fewer health problems and ultimately fewer claims with Medicare and UHC.  Put those numbers in your financial analysis.

Honored Social Butterfly


@lh49631149 wrote:

 

UHC Medicare Supplement members who use Silver Sneakers are the ones who take health the most seriously and understand the importance of physical activity for preventative care.  With this abandonment of Silver Sneakers, UHC was hypocritical about how important Silver Sneakers was in the past.  UHC rationale for dropping coverage can only be because it puts more $$ in their pockets. Like many of the worst companies, UHC will only do the minimum required, in this case, only what the government says they have to do (your words in the next to last paragraph)..

UHC will lose their best clients, i.e., those who use Silver Sneakers and likely have fewer health problems and ultimately fewer claims with Medicare and UHC.  Put those numbers in your financial analysis.


A Medicare Supplemental (Medigap) plan is different than a Medicare Advantage plan - although both are offered by private insurance companies. 

 

A Medicare Advantage plan is an option for getting your actual Medicare benefits.  A beneficiary has the choice of getting their Medicare benefits through the traditional (original) program OR through a Medicare Advantage plan.  A Medicare Advantage plan covers everything that traditional (original) Medicare covers just in a different way.  It may also offer extra benefits - these would be the option of the private insurer since these extra benefits aren't legislated to be covered. 

 

A Medicare Supplemental Plan or Medigap policy (they are the same thing) is private health insurance that helps supplement Original Medicare. This means it helps pay some of the health care costs that Original Medicare doesn't cover (like copayments, coinsurance, and deductibles). These are “gaps” in Medicare coverage. ... Then your Medigap policy pays its share.

 

That is pretty much all  a Medigap or Medicare Suuplemental policy is - GAP or Supplemental coverage insurance.  This type of policy ONLY picks up what original Medicare does not pay.

I have no doubt that seniors staying active physically helps their overall health but in this case, it may be helping out original Medicare and the claims paid by both original Medicare and Medigap.  

 

But since this type of activity (Silver Sneakers) is NOT covered by original Medicare as being medically necessary, then this is an extra benefit by a private insurer and they do have the right to design it or re-design it.  And yes, make money off of it if that is the case. 

 

Silver Sneakers is a program by Tivity Health - it is offered to Medicare plans, to employer plans, other group plans - no insurer has to use it specifically.  AARP it seems has joined with Tivity Health to create that flip50 program for people in their age membership (over 50 - which covers more than just Medicare beneficiaries).  UHC has estabilised Optum Fitness, I think it is called.  Other private Medicare insurers which use Silver Sneakers will have their contract with Tivity Health coming up for renewal in the years to come so there may be more decisions to be maide by other seniors then depending upon what the private Medicare insurer decides.   The Humana and Tivity Health contract, I believe, comes up in 2020.

 

Here is the 2017 Guide from The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services which explains many of the nuances associated with a Medigap or Medicare Supplemental plans - all the rules are listed here as to what is guaranteed issue, when guaranteed issue is in play and when it is not. 

CMS - 2017 Choosing a Medigap Policy: A Guide to Health Insurance for People with Medicare

 

I think people who are considering changing their Medicare Supplemental or Medigap Plan should become familiar with it and understand what could happen if they change plans without a guaranteed issue specification.

 

Changing a Medicare Advantage plan from one to another is no big deal and can be done annually during the open enrollment period starting in mid-October of each year.  However a beneficiary will have to make sure that other prerequisite are met like doctors and other providers being in network or if it includes a Prescription Drug Plan (MA-PD) that medicines needed are on the coverage  formulary, among other things.

 

This is just information - nothing else.

Periodic Contributor

I have a Medicare Advantage plan which was Healthnet and then became Allwell. Under Healthnet there was Silver Sneakers per my agent. Under Allwell, they don't mention it. Our county, we only had once choice for a Medicare Advantage. This year we have a 2nd - Humana. You are correct - I compared plans and 3 of my 5 prescriptions weren't covered (as compared to the 1 out of 6 under Allwell), and my costs for various medical situations including copays, is higher. Overall, if I stay with my current plan as compared to Humana, I could join all 5 gyms in town. I do use an agent - when I first became eligible under disability, I thought I was confused when all I could find was one plan. Ends up I wasn't, but the agent is very good at comparing options and advising me of expected drugs costs for the year. The agent doesn't cost me anything, so it is still one thing under the medicare rules that benefits us.
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Regular Contributor

It is true that you may not be a guarantee issue after 6 months after applying for Medicare Part B but I believe that underwriting standards are more lenient than you may think. Apply early so that you can have a firm commitment for the other carrier you may select and in this way you won't be without coverage. Most insurers I believe will either accept you or decline you but do not upcharge you for preexixting conditions. Call the other carriers to confirm this.

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Newbie

While I will remain with my current program, going to the gym is now out. I will find other ways to try and stay healthy. This move by United Healthcare is not beneficial, in my opinion.

Periodic Contributor

Some interesting financial information on United Health Care Group, Inc,

 

Stephen J.Hemsley- Ex. Chairman 2017 total compenation: $18,223,330.00

David S.Wichmann-CEO-2017 total compensation: $17,389.976.00

 

Cut these bloated salaries not Silver Sneakers!!!!

Contributor

This is VERY disappointing - one of the reasons I chose UHC was for this program.   I would like to see their data about their members medical costs that use the program vs. those that do not.   I suspect those active in Silver Sneakers have overall lower healthcare costs.

Periodic Contributor

Some interesting financial information on United Health Care Group, Inc,

 

Stephen J.Hemsley- Ex. Chairman 2017 total compenation: $18,223,330.00

David S.Wichmann-CEO-2017 total compensation: $17,389.976.00

 

Cut these bloated salaries not Silver Sneakers!!!!

 

NOW, NOW, YOU KNOW THAT THEY NEED THOSE SALARIES! 

AND DON'T FORGET THAT OUR TAX  CUT FOR THE "MIDDLE CLASS" (OR THE 1%) WILL HELP THESE POOR GUYS  BE ABLE TO LIVE ON THOSE SUBSTANDARD SALARIES. SO, PLEASE ACCEPT THE DISCONTINUATION OF SILVER SNEAKERS!

Regular Contributor

I for one am still trying to understand how the biggest 1%'er ever got elected by the people. OH I forgot the republicans own the voting machines companies and software. lets go to paper ballots!
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Honored Social Butterfly


@lh49631149 wrote:

This comment appears to be from an AARP ./ UHC spokesperson reciting the same information we got in the letter.  Identify yourself if that is the case.



@lh49631149

Don't know who you are referring to but if it is me - then I am just a senior - Medicare age - but I do know my Medicare, including the differences in Medigap and Medicare Advantage plans, and all the various peculiarities.

 

Not telling anybody what they should do - only giving information; the decision has to be made by the beneficiary, taking into consideration all the consequences of changing plans and then making the  decision in their best interest.

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Periodic Contributor

UHC will lose their best clients, i.e., those who use Silver Sneakers and likely have fewer health problems and ultimately fewer claims with Medicare and UHC.  Put those numbers in your financial analysis.

GREAT COMMENT!

Newbie

I totally agree! I use my silver sneakers for a water aerobics class as well as 24 Hour Fitness and it improved my health immensely. I was able to gain strength , ose weight, and in general enjoy life more. I'm really upset they're taking this away from us.
Contributor

If United healthcare drops my Silver Sneakers benefit then I will drop United Healthcare!  

 

Seniors travel.  A gym membership reduction is NOT adequate.

 

My gym activity completely reversed the on set of arthritis in my fingers and shoulders!

Contributor

That is the reason for the change.  UHC is run by MBA's.  There is no analysis for expenses not incurred; claims not made.  This change will affect their client population. Be careful of making a change in your plan.  Many rules on preexisting issues.  You could end up worse off.  

Contributor

Go to silversneakers.com to check your eligibility. I did and my membership is with them, not UnitedHealthcare. You can print out your card there.

 

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Periodic Contributor

Go to this website to find which medicare insurance that offers Silver Sneakers: https://tools.silversneakers.com/Eligibility/HealthPlans

Periodic Contributor

Sorry this didn't attach when I responded.
Go to this website to find which medicare insurance that offers Silver Sneakers: https://tools.silversneakers.com/Eligibility/HealthPlans
Again, looks like this is for 2018. Hope it updates for 2019.
Periodic Contributor

This site shows this year. Hope it updates.
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Honored Social Butterfly

I noticed that Aetna is offering Silver Sneakers in 2018, replacing their current program, Silver & Fit. 

"Music can change the world because it can change people." - Bono
Regular Contributor


@MaVolta wrote:

I noticed that Aetna is offering Silver Sneakers in 2018, replacing their current program, Silver & Fit. 


Be sure to check with Silver Sneakers that it is covered in your area. Aetna is listed on the Silver Sneakers website, but when I called SS and asked them for verification I was told it was not covered by Aetna in my area. 

Regular Contributor

Thanks for the info.  Good to know.

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Regular Contributor

interesting, I will have to check it out before the window closes.

AARP should have been on top of this and gave us a warning while finding a insurer

that wants their clients to stay healthy.

 

also to note since United Healthcare reported today they say their income will go

up next year...

NOT if there is a swarm of folks who sign up with another insurance company!

Contributor

I was told that it is a state by state change but CT is out and so am I.

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