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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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@TimS81111 wrote:

After AARP was not able to get an agreement with UHC to continue Silver Sneakers. I looked at other insurance options and decided to enroll with Kaiser. 

It may have been some 25 year old just out of business school who won’t be on Medicare for years that made the suggestion to drop Silver Sneakers. Just showed me that AARP is just looking out at their bottom line. 


That is your choice to change plans, abeit with all the Medicare rules and policy details considered.

 

AARP has no say on the design of the policies; they aren't insurance experts.  AARP only gives UHC the branding rights to their name - they receive royalties based on the use of that trademarked name - AARP.  AARP says they use these funds for general purposes.

 

Under only some types of these Medicare plans do you even have to be a member of AARP to obtain (enroll in) a policy.  Then once you have the policy (like a AARP UHC Medicare Supplemental Policy) you can drop your membership in AARP - 

 

https://www.aarpmedicareplans.com/disclaimer.html#/article_mededaccordion1

 

Most likely it was UHC thinking that they could take on this health and fitness benefit themselves and make some money from it.  They are not required to cover anything extra under the Medigap plans - anything extra there is purely for marketing purposes - to get you to choose their plan rather than another insurers Medigap plan - since the plans are ALL the SAME.

 

Coverage for any extra benefit in a Medicare Advantage plan can be changed on a yearly basis since there is annual enrollment so everybody better continue to review these plans yearly and not assume that they are the same as the one the year before - deductibles can change, copays can change, provider networks can change, drug formularies can change, any extra benefit can change.

 

 

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Regular Contributor

AARP, you've got a bursting public relations problem. Regarding UHC discontinuing support for the Silver Sneakers program, members are NOT being told that UHC has discontinued support. They are being told that AARP is no longer supporting the Silver Sneakers program. There was a sign at the check in desk at my local gym stating that "Effective January 1st, AARP is discontinuing support for the Silver Sneakers program". To top that off, I received a letter from my local pharmacy informing me that effective January 1st, they would no longer accept the "Medicare Drug Plan from AARP". Wake Up AARP. You made the choice to sell rights to your name to the highest bidder. Now that decisions is coming back to haunt you. I am 69 years old and will no longer continue with either the AARP-UHC Supplemental Plan, nor the AARP-UHC Part D Drug Plan. This is not a 'choice'. I have none. Your decision has driven me away from AARP.
Honored Social Butterfly

@johngraves01

 

Now THAT is a problem.

When you Brand your name it gets results - the good and the bad.

Good post.

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Regular Contributor

I have contacted United Healthcare, AARP and Silver Sneakers. Standard responses from UHC & AARP, all about the great new opportunity to pay 50% of the gym membership instead of getting it free. The Silver Sneakers rep said they have had no official notice of SS being dropped from either UHC or AARP. He said the only knowledge they have has been gained through people calling in to inquire about it.

 

I told him the SS website still shows United as a participant, which is misleading for new people who may be choosing their insurer for 2019. He said they cannot change it without official notice.

 

I asked if there is a way for individuals to join SS, and he said there is not at this time.

Contributor

I referred a friend to UH due to the Silver Sneaker program.  She advised that UC would not provide access in 2019.  I called and received the same response that you did.  The Silver Sneaker representative has only heard from clients that UH has decided not to continue access in 2019.  Personally, I changed from Mutual of Omaha to UH due to this perk - it was the only way that UH differentiated itself.  Basically all of the Medicare Part B supplemental programs, within a class (A, B., C, D, etc.), are the same.  Only cost differs amoung the various providers.  I will probably be converting to another Part B provider in 2019.  Believe that if most of the AARP members would do the same, we might be able to find a provider that will/can differentiate itself.  Side note - perhaps the AARP should look at alternatives unless they are receiving lucrative kick-backs for their endorsement.

Honored Social Butterfly


@mb91334200 wrote:

. . . . Basically all of the Medicare Part B supplemental programs, within a class (A, B., C, D, etc.), are the same.  Only cost differs amoung the various providers.  I will probably be converting to another Part B provider in 2019.  . . . . 


Medicare Supplemental (Medigap) plans are NOT just Part B coverage.  They are GAP coverage which fills in your cost somewhat, based on the plan chosen, between what traditional Medicare pays and what is the beneficiaries out of pocket responsibility in Part A and Part B.  The picking up of Part B by a beneficiary is a timing designation by Medicare (CMS ) for determining the initial guaranteed issue period and to financially penalize one if they don't Part B coverage when they are required to do so. 

 

Exert caution if you want to change plans if you do not have guaranteed issue rights based on Medicare rules.  Outside these specific circumstances, an insurer can underwrite you - meaning charge you more because of any health related problems - they can also deny coverage for specific medical conditions for a specific amount of time.

 

Some states may give additional circumstances when you can change insurers without any adverse circumstances.

 

Also be careful in the way the various insurers rate policies - there is a difference between

  • (1) Community rates
  • (2) Attained Age.
  • (3) Issue Age

ratings so just make sure you are comparing apples to apples because some policy premium increases within these realms may be felt later rather than sooner.   

 

Working with a Medicare Insurance broker or a KNOWLEDGABLE  S.H.I.P. representative can help you to avoid any pitfalls.

 

READ YOUR "MEDICARE AND YOU" BOOKET - everybody should.

 

 

 

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Periodic Contributor

I feel the need to chime into this conversation, so forgive me if I sound negative.  I am the owner of a small fitness center and while I respect that insurance companies are interested in helping their clients lead a more healthy life by offering free or reduced fees for a gym membership, often times people don't realize what a difficult position this puts gym owner's in.  The big box gyms have a larger population to support such a program, but for small business owners it is not the solution to attracting more members.  They receive such a small stipend for each person per visit (less than $4) and the member is limited by the number of visits (as in Silver Sneakers) per month of up to10 visits, which in my case would  be ridiculous because I have members who come 5/6 days a week - so the owner ends up eating the extra visits.  And now with the change to the United Healthcare Plan of offering their members 50% discount on a monthly membership fee and a reduced (?) sign up fee, that does nothing to support their bottom line.  Again, this is a wonderful concept but the poor business owner ends up trying to make ends meet and/or going out of business.  Fortunately, I saw the writing on the wall years ago and never signed up but I have seen how other small gyms struggle.  Just wanted to put it out there from the other side of the coin.  

Regular Contributor

Totally agree with and sympathize.  This is exactly what our Recreation Center said.  They felt that Silver Sneakers at least brought in new people who otherwise wouldn’t come to the Rec Center.  In many cases, these new people would take some extra classes and recommend family and friends to join making participation worth their while.  

 

With the new program, however, they would not even be reimbursed the other 50%.  UHC, in other words, doesn’t pay anything.  For them it is a win win proposition.  I have no idea why anyone would participate.

Regular Contributor

Yes, as mentioned earlier I too am very disappointed that AARP-United Healthcare won't participate in Silver Sneakers next year.  I spent a lot of time looking into various insurance policies and was fully aware that the coverage offered for each plan was the same for those companies that offered them.  I chose AARP-United Healthcare because I knew people who had good experiences with them and they also offered Silver Sneakers as a perk.  I even suggested to friends who are approaching 65 to consider them as well.

 

In a market that offers functionally identical products it's the price and additional perks that make the difference in where you choose to spend your money.

 

I haven't made the transtion to Blue Cross - Blue Shield of Arizona yet but I'm leaning in that direction.  I have naive hopes that AARP-United Healthcare will change their minds about Silver Sneakers but the odds of this happening are essentially zero.  I have plenty of time to goof around with this but I'll probably change to BC-BS in the next few weeks.

 

Hey, maybe BC-BS will do something equally ridiculous and I'll come back to AARP-United Healthcare sometime in the future.  Stranger things have happened.  By that time maybe United Healthcare will be out of the picture and I'll be considering a high quality policy from AARP-Fred's Lawnmower Repair and Insurance Company.

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Periodic Contributor

I'm in Arizona and have Plan F.  My premium went up $20 per month in 2019.  This with moving to their new fitness program that only pays 50% of the gym membership (I go to the 'Y') is $50 a month.  WOW!  My insurance broker found a rate $10 lower than I am currently paying and has silver sneakers.  Humana.

 

Now my concern is that the 'Y' won't take SS but there are a lot of fitness options in Phoenix so I'm going with Humana.

 

 

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@sr81611793 wrote:

I'm in Arizona and have Plan F.  My premium went up $20 per month in 2019.  This with moving to their new fitness program that only pays 50% of the gym membership (I go to the 'Y') is $50 a month.  WOW!  My insurance broker found a rate $10 lower than I am currently paying and has silver sneakers.  Humana.

 

Now my concern is that the 'Y' won't take SS but there are a lot of fitness options in Phoenix so I'm going with Humana.

 

          Is the new plan a Plan F also?  I'm still in the old Plan J and it has gone up $20 also.  It's my understanding that most plans will go up each year because we are a year older.


 

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Periodic Contributor

Yes, Plan F.  I guess it's like all insurance.  You will have to shop the best rate each year for your needs.

Regular Contributor

Here's some more info for people from Arizona.  I called Blue Cross - Blue Shield and their MediGap coverage includes a fitness plan similar to SilverSneakers that is called "Silver and Fit".  I checked the Silver and Fit website and the health clubs they list for my area are virtually identical to what is offered by SilverSneakers.  Their Plan F prices are pretty much the same or a little less than AARP-United Healthcare.  They have a downloadable PDF file on the BC-BS website that has 2018 prices, but they don't list 2019 prices on their website.  You have to call the phone number on their webpage and talk to a insurance broker to see what they'll be charging in 2019.  The guy I talked to was helpful and gave me the prices I was looking for that cover 2018 and 2019.  Since I'm less than 4 months from my 65th birthday I can change from AARP-United Healthcare to Blue Cross - Blue Shield immediately and not wait until 2019.

 

Since I want to have my healthcare needs addressed by the nearby Mayo Clinic I asked if their Plan F would cover it completely just like my AARP-United Healthcare Plan F does.  I was told that BC-BS Plan F will cover everything.

 

They have 3 prescription drug plans that are probably comperable to what AARP-United Healthcare offers but I can't confirm it 100% without digging through their publication of which drugs they cover and that sort of thing.  I'll look into this a bit more and see if there are any substantial differences.

 

This confirms what was mentioned by someone else earlier in this discussion, that BC-BS offers coverage that is essentially the same (both policy and price) as AARP-United Healthcare with a fitness club plan that is similar or identical to SilverSneakers.

 

It's doubful that the corporate bureaucrats at AARP-United Healthcare were expecting their decision to replace SilverSneakers with something less beneficial to their customers would result in their customers finding something better elsewhere, but that's what's happened.  You don't have to be a genius to know that taking a benefit away from your customers is not a good way to keep those customers coming back in the future.  What were they thinking?  Whoever signed off on this nonsense should be updating his/her resume and looking for a new job because at a competently run company they'd be fired.

Periodic Contributor

I am reading the responses in this forum and one of them said that people were not using Silver Sneakers enough so that is why UHC is dropping this benefit.  Well if that is the case then why is UHC going with Optum instead of Silver Sneakers? Obviously they must feel that people do use this type of benefit or else they would not have changed it to Optum.  My agent told me last year that Optum Fitness is run by the same people who started Silver Sneakers and now they started this new program which they expect to be even better then Silver Sneaker.   Well so far it is not better at all.  I have had it for the 2018 year since I was new to UHC/AARP and it covers my rec center but does not cover any of the SS classes that I was taking.  Even though I was told when I went to this coverage for  that it would. And there are other places in our area that take SS but they will not accept Optum.  My neighbor who has Parkinsons has been going to a gym that accepts SS and he received the same letter and they told him they will not take Optum.   Now many others are having the Silver Sneakers taken away and are seeing what I am seeing, that Optum is not at all what they promised it would be.   So if that is the case why not just stay with Silver Sneakers and stop with this Optum Fitness....it is obviously making people very unhappy and it is causing the loss of business.  I for one have my agent coming in the next week and am going to change my coverage to a plan that has Silver Sneakers.  I hope we can all find a good plan that meets our needs.  

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@MaryL1957

 

Optum Fitness Advantage is a United Health Care Group health and fitness program for seniors.

 

Star Tribune 11/07/2017 - United Health Group Enters Senior Fitness Market Race

 

They are going to be competing with Silver Sneakers (a product of Tivity Health) as well as many others - Silver and Fit, Flip50 to name a few and who are owned or sponsored by other companies.

 

Many of these health and fitness programs are not only market to seniors in or outside of Medicare plans,they are also modified somewhat and included in many large employer group plans too.

 

It is Business - Competion is a normal course of business.

 

The other thing which I have posted over and over here is that in 2019 CMS is allowing Medicare Advantage plans to offer new health programs within their plans -'these are benefits that are NOT offered under traditional Medicare.

For those who like the Medicare Advantage plans, you will be able to not only pick the one that meets your health and provider network needs and medicines if they have an all inclusive Medicare Prescription Plan but you might also check to see what special health benefits each is offering to further meet your needs.

 

AARP - Medicare Changes in 2019 - 7 Things You Need To Know

 

 

 

 

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Periodic Contributor

Keep supporting your company’s position to drop the plan. We still do not have to like it or keep uhc. Blue cross anthem offers lower premiums AND silver sneakers.  I am switching so good bye aarp AND uhc

Periodic Contributor

@GailL1

Right now our rec center will allow those who are in Silver and Fit to go to the same classes for free that are offered by Silver Sneakers. However, they will not allow the people in Optum Fitness to be part of those classes unless we pay for them. What bothers me is I am told one thing when I went with UHC/AARP and come to find out that it is not that way at all. And I do not like the fact that they would like us to go to our rec or fitness centers and try to get them to sign up. Ummm not getting paid to do this. If the rec centers do not want to sign up for Optum then maybe there is an issue with Optum. So many people I know love the Silver Sneakers and use the classes and the centers that honor the plan. It may be the NORMAL course of business as you say...I say if it is not broke no need to fix it. Silver Sneakers and Silver and Fit are good programs. Why saturate the market with all these new plans. We are seniors...we like the way things are. Go target a younger group and leave us alone. You can certainly see by all the comments posted how upsetting this is. I also believe that a company will suffer when it makes BAD business decisions and are just greedy and not caring about their customer base.
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@MaryL1957

UHC doesn't know what fitness centers people use - that is the only reason they want you to give them the name of it or ask them to participate.

 

I don't know if it will even make it - Optum Fitness Advantage or Renew whatever they want to call it.  Either it is gonna make it or it won't.  AARP doesn't really have much to do with it.  They just get money for the brand.

 

The major thing comes down to this

- if you get your Medicare benefits via a Medicare Advantage plan -'change it to the one you want/need EVERY YEAR during annual open enrollment.

 

- if you get your Medicare benefits via the traditional Medicare program and you opt for a Medicare Supplemental (MediGAP) plan, any health and fitness program or any other extra benefits are only marketing schemes and can be gone at anytime.  MediGAP coverage is NOT insurance - it is GAP coverage.

 

MediGAP coverage is a personal option - without it you still get the same Medicare benefit as anybody else in the traditional program.

 

Others like Medicare Advantage because they know what they have to pay and there is an out of pocket maximum per year which is not the case in traditional Medicare.

 

it is ALL about choices.

 

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Periodic Contributor

Gail, they certainly do know which ones because Optum went to all the rec centers in my area...some said yes, some said no to them. So now they want me to go an try to get them to get into the plan. I am retired and not going to do that.

And certainly Optum knows all the ones that had Silver Sneakers. Yes it is about choices and I am choosing to look at other coverage this year. If it is better premiums, has silver sneakers and has my doctors and meds then I will choose to change. Looks like many others are planning on reviewing their choices.

And yes these Fitness plans can be gone at anytime but right now they are not so I am going to select the plan that meets my needs.
Honored Social Butterfly

@MaryL1957

 

You can read the details about the facilities sign up here

https://fitnessadvantage.optum.com/gym-partner

 

Here is their initial marketing brochure to the fitness centers - talks like there is no charge to MA members.

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Regular Contributor

This explains a lot. They cut out Tivity Silver Sneakers and replaced with their own program.  Thanks. 

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Periodic Contributor

Competition is offering a better program or the same program for less money.  UHC's program is neither.

 

Again, AARP owes it to it's members to negotiate a better deal.  

 

Again, it is obvious that AARP is in bed with UHC and the money they are making from them far outweighs their interest in providing a better service for it's members.

Regular Contributor

I sent an email to AARP member relations expressing my disappointment. I received a canned response stating not enough people were using Silver Sneakers. Why is that a problem for them? Wouldn't that save them money? Do they think more people will use the option that costs them extra money every month? I'm sure it all comes down to $, but I fail to understand how too few people using the free Silver Sneakers benefit leads to a decision to offer another program that is not free.

Regular Contributor

I just found out that the new program offering of paying 50% of the monthly gym fee at participating facilities only affects those who are paying a hefty premium. Those with AARP UHC Advantage or Complete include UHC’s new fitness program called Renew Active (replacing Optum and Silver Sneakers) for FREE!  Why the discrimination?

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I just called the AARP-United Healthcare customer service number on my insurance card and they confirmed that only the people with Medicare Advantage plans will be able to participate in the RenewActive program.  Those who have Medicare Supplement plans will have what appears to be a less comprehensive fitness program called Health Your Way on Jan 1 2019.  www.healthyourway.com is the website for this program.

 

So, it seems that there are two levels of health and fitness programs available from AARP-United Healthcare, one for Medicare Advantage customers which seems to be very similar to SilverSneakers and another for Medicare Supplement customers that doesn't appear to be nearly as good.

 

When I talked to the AARP-United Healthcare customer service representative I shared with him my unhappiness about the situation with SilverSneakers and asked him to pass it along to the management folks who might be interested in such things.  He said he would.  It's doubtful that one voice will make a difference, but I tried.

 

How many voices would they need to hear for them to change things so everyone gets (1) equal health and fitness benefits and (2) benefits which are functioanlly equivalent to what SilverSneakers currently offers?

Periodic Contributor

I called UHC's 1-800 number and asked about Silver Sneakers being dropped for the AARP F plan.  I got the same story about the 50% payment for a membership, and we will not be able to go to more than one gym, unless you want to pay 1/2 of a membership at many gyms.  I also told them the only reason I had signed up with them was for the gym membership.  The gentleman I spoke to was very compassionate. I told him I would be looking for another plan that had the silver sneakers.  They are going to lose quite a few subscribers.  He said he would pass my concern on, and that UHC was having them document all concerns.  If you are concerned, I suggest calling 1-800-523-5800 to voice your concern.

Contributor

UHC its been nice but I'll search for another plan with Silver sneakers, my primary physician and the other benefits.

Contributor

... www.healthyourway.com  ......

 

I just looked at this site and it tells me absolutely nothing about which facilities, if any, in my area accept this program.  

 

I am completely bummed.  I thought I was all set with AARP.  Cannot count all the friends I have insisted convert to AARP / UHC as they retire.

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@John85259

I don't know why this is so hard to understand -

 

It has nothing to do with being fair - it has to do with what you are buying

 

Medigap is ONLY GAP insurance - it is only available to those in traditional Medicare and By law, rules and regs ONLY covers what Medicare does not pay based on the Medigap plan which a beneficiary chooses.

IT IS NOT A SENIOR HEALTH INSURANCE PROGRAM - it is PRIVATE Senior GAP Insurance.  

 

Not every beneficiary in traditional Medicare even buys one.  It is the beneficiary's choice to buy one.

 

If you want a senior health and fitness program  to be something more than just a marketing gimmick for Medigap insurers, then start by getting Medicare to cover it as medically necessary - good luck with that.

 

Medicare Advantage plans are just another way to get your WHOLE Medicare benefit.  Medicare Advantage plans can include extra coverage because they are on the hook for their clients.  They have a business model that help them if they can get and keep you healthier since CMS is only paying them so much per person + a bit more if they are sicker.

 

in 2019, CMS opened up the door for them to use other health benefits to keep these beneficiaries healthier.  Have you not seen my numerous post  and related links on this.  

 

There is a HUGE difference in a Medicare Supplemental (MediGAP) plan

and a Medicare Advantage plan - different as night and day.

 

 

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Regular Contributor

Since you seem to have all the answers, can you tell us how the gyms or fitness centers are reimbursed and by whom?

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