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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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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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Honored Social Butterfly


@ls63763447 wrote:

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


I will have to give an educated guess here with my reasoning, of course.

 

UHC and other Medicare plan insurers most like have or had a contract with Tivity Health (parent company of Siver Sneakers) for a set dollar amount roughly based on the number of plans where they offered the Silver Sneakers benefit.  Most likely that was by state.

 

Tivity Health came up with the Silver Sneakers program, got the facilities lined up and offered certification for the program.  

 

I 'm not really even sure if the insurers knew how many people used the program or how often because they were just paying Tivity Health to run it and payment was just made on how many plans they had which covered Silver Sneakers.  So the insurers paid Tivity Health.

 

In Nov.2017, when UHC press released their plans to create their own senior health and fitness program and to pull out of the Silver Sneakers program in 11 states, Tivity Health's stock took a dive in the market.  Now I Do not know if this number of states is all the ones where UHC offered the Silver Sneakers program or if that list has now been expanded to include more.

 

Tivity Health has been working hard to get back market share in this area - they announced in August 2018 that they were working with AARP on a program called Flip50 which would be offered to all AARP members.  Since the AARP membership covers 50 and over, it is a little different than only covering the Medicare crowd of 65 and over.  I have not seen anything from AARP on this specific program, by name, yet.  

 

I guess all of you read the health and fitness articles, suggestions which AARP publishes and can see any benefits listed on the benefits page.  I read them but personally, I am not a member of AARP - there are few benefits of membership which I see that I would use at my current life stage - maybe later.  I am a senior of Medicare age, I am in the traditional program but do not use a MediGap policy.

 

I just try to keep up on anything Medicare or Social Security related and also anything in health care administratively or treatment wise.  I have background from there but now it is just more about interest - fascination mostly about how government can get so complicated when administering it yet the beneficiaries stay in the dark with the details.  Details of such that can trip you up with consequences.  

 

 

 

It's Always Something . . . . Roseanna Roseannadanna
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Why the discrimination indeed?!
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I'm in Arizona and have AARP-United Healthcare Plan F.  I turned 65 in September and SilverSneakers was a big factor in choosing AARP-United Healthcare.  Less than a month later I received a letter in the mail (dated Sept 21, 2018) saying that they are offering "More services and a dedicated team to work with you!" and later it states that SilverSneakers will not be offered in 2019.  There's additional babble that presents the possibility of a 50% discount at participating fitness centers.  I fail to the the benefit in a relationship like this.

 

The SilverSneakers website lists the insurance companies that will participate in SilverSneakers in 2019 and here's what's on their list:

 

AARP-United Healthcare

Aetna

CareMore Health

Bankers Life

Humana

United Healthcare

 

I emailed them and mentioned that I had received a letter from AARP-United Healthcare saying they won't be offereing SilverSneakers in 2019.  I then asked them to confirm that AARP-United Healthcare will be offered in 2019 and to give me a complete list of the companies that will participate in SilverSneakers in 2019.  I hope to hear from them soon.

 

Aetna has a document with their prices on their website.  In my case they are more expensive than AARP-United Healthcare next year.  Humana has a worksheet that you can go through and get prices for their policies.  They are are also more expensive than AARP-United Healthcare in 2019.

 

I haven't worked through the other companies yet to see what they will charge.

 

All of this is very disappointing.  I spent quite a bit of time working through the insurance options and was pleased with my final choice of AARP-United Healthcare.  Now I'm starting the search all over again.

 

It's likely that not enough people will complain and eventually leave AARP-United Healthcare to motivate them to go back to SilverSneakers, but it's worth poking at them and see if they'll see the error in their ways.

 

Worse is that many people chose AARP-United Healthcare partially as a result in their participation in SilverSneakers.  We trusted AARP-United Healthcare to be consistent in what they offer, and if any changes were made it would be transparent to us (no change in cost or facilities we could use).  This was not the case.  They have removed a key feature of the insurance policy they offer and replaced it with something that is more expensive and has less features.  For example, I could go to any fitness center in the country that particates in SilverSneakers and this might be handy for someone to avoids the hot summers in Arizona by going somewhere else in the country.  Now it's not so easy because the number of facilities availabe to me is likely to be much less than it used to be.

 

It makes you wonder what is going through the minds of the people at AARP-United Healthcare.  Did they just come up with a half-baked plan that costs more and offers less and think people wouldn't notice?  Do they just not care whether we noticed or not?  Did they not think of the impact this would have on people who thought their trust in AARP-United Healthcare was well placed?

 

This smells of bureaucratic indifference coupled with the desire to save money.  Maybe it won't be a big deal to AARP-United Healthcare whether a small percentage of their customers take their business elsewhere.  But it's a big deal to a lot of people.  It appears that our trust has been misplaced.

 

 

 

Contributor

John, I am NOT defending AARP's decision to allow UHC to drop SS for 2019 as part of our coverage.  My guess is that SS was raising their fee to UHC.  We will never know; that's insider stuff.

 

I worked in a Fortune 100 HR department for 10 years, from which I retired several years ago.  The execs in that dept were interested in one thing:  cutting insurance costs.  I also know that the CEO personally told my VP-HR to find ways to cut insurance and retirement costs.  Cost cutting is driven from the top down.

 

Remember, these are likely multi year contracts that AARP signs with UHC.  Probably at least three years contracts, with escalating fees annually.   So this is not a sudden decision on the part of UHC / AARP to drop SS.  It's only announced during Open Enrollment.  The contracts were signed months or years ago, and no amount of protesting will change the current contract.

 

As buyers, we can only talk with our money. 

 

I will say several years ago when I had cancer, that between Medicare and UHC I paid less than $100 in out of pocket expenses.  I mean everything was covered:  surgery, several hospitalizations, radiation, chemo, physical therapy, full bracket of genetic testing, dozens of tests and blood draws.  I have no idea how much all of this cost, but I'd guess well into 6 figures.  

 

I have been completely 100% satisfied with AARP / UHC Plan F coverage so far.   

 

 

 

 

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All Medigap/Medicare supplement plans of the same letter have to provide exactly the same insurance benefits from plan to plan.  In other words, any other company's Plan F would cover exactly the same benefits as your UHC Plan F.

 

Insurer's are allowed to charge different premiums and offer different perks such as Silver Sneakers to entice subscribers.

 

You are happy with your plan and sticking with it no doubt.  For myself I found another insurer offering my same Plan N at $6 cheaper per month in 2019 than what UHC is charging in 2018.  They are also still offering Silver Sneakers.  For me that is a big savings.

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All Advantage Plans are offering all kinds of bells and whistles to entice people to go that direction instead of a Medigap policy. Insurance Companies make more money with Advantage Plans.  Silver Sneakers was a bell and whistle for medigap plans and now this is ceasing. All can change in Medicare Advantage plans and in my opinion will. They try to entice you into Advantage plans  by offering all type of bells and whistles and just like they removed  Silver Sneakers in the medigap plan they can stop the bells and whistles in the advatage plans. This is basic marketing 101. Entice them with options and at a future time remove those enticements.

Regular Contributor

Bingo!  But that doesn’t mean we need to bow to their greed and say or do nothing.  UHC reported record 3rd quarter earnings yesterday.  I wonder how much their executives are given in bonuses?  

 

Complaining on blogs and other social media, along with filing a formal complaint with Medicare and your State Insurance Commission may not be a waste of time.  Years ago, complaints to the Insurance Commission in our State involving Blue Cross Blue Shiield not paying certain Home Care Costs became a class action suit which was won.  Blue Cross reimbursed those affected. My mother was paid back over $2,000 which at that time was a lot of money.  It took 2 years (my father had passed away) but we had no idea our letter of complaint would lead to a class action suit and success!

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I also am in AZ. In addition to losing Silver Sneakers, my premium went up $20 a month. My agent believes she will be able to find another policy (plan F) cheaper with the gym membership included.

Money talks and I will definitely go with the cheaper plan even though I have had UHC for the last 10 years.

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Very well said.  I suspect the Healthyourways.com website was initiated by millennials and I doubt they gave any consideration to the needs of the Seniors they supposedly serve. All they care about is increasing their bottom line. 

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@John85259

 

There is never any assurance that ANY EXTRA BENEFIT remains connected to 

ANY Medigap policy.  EXTRA Benefits in a Medigap policy are written with disclaimers.

 

Many of the (state specific) prospectuses for
AARP Medicare Supplement Plans insured by UnitedHealthcare Insurance Company

Contain(ed) the following language when any of these (and other) EXTRA bendefits are covered -
SILVERSNEAKERS®
AARP ® VISION DISCOUNTS
NURSE HEALTHLINE

This Disclaimer is also included:
These are additional insured member services apart from the AARP Medicare Supplement Insurance Plan benefits, are not insurance programs, are subject to geographical availability, and may be discontinued at any time.

So make sure you read the small print especially for Medicare Supplemental (Medigap) plans offered by any insurer.

 

Medigap (Medicare Supplemental) policies are ONLY GAP insurance - nothing more.  If they offer any EXTRA benefits, they are doing it to entice you to pick their plan.  But those EXTRA benefits are not covered in the actual Medigap policy and thus are illusive and can be cancelled at any time.

 

if you want an assurance (For at least a year) of specific types of benefits being included, then you have to pick a Medicare Advantage plan.  A Medicare Advantage plan are actual Medicare benefits just covered in a different way.   A Medicare Advantage plan takes the place of traditional Medicare - Medigap policies ONLY work with traditional Medicare because it is not full coverage - only gap insurance.  Medicare Advantage plans are full Medicare coverage just in a different way than traditional Medicare.

 

A beneficiary can change their Medicare Advantage plan EVERY year during open enrollment for any reason -'health reasons, extra benefits offered, SilverSneakers program offered one year and something else the next year.

A beneficiary can change to any Medicare Advantage plan they want that is offered in their area EVERY YEAR during open enrollment for any reason.

 

So if you or anybody else want access to certain extra benefits, you might want to sign up for a Medicare Advantage plan - that way, on a yearly basis you can chase the benefits that you want from plan to plan but don't forget about evaluating the important medical coverage stuff too.

It's Always Something . . . . Roseanna Roseannadanna
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Gail, thanks for the info.  My case may be somewhat special because I knew where I wanted to go for my healthcare needs and selected a policy with that constraint in mind.  The Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale is 2 miles from my house and AARP/United Healthcare Plan F will cover all costs associated with the clinic and the Mayo Clinic Hospital in north Phoenix, which is a little bit further away.  I know several people who have had very good service from the Mayo Clinic and all of their costs were covered by AARP-United Healthcare Plan F.  I've used them in the past for annual checkups and that sort of thing and was satisfied with them.  I don't see changing from Plan F any time soon, but I suppose anything can happen.

 

As mentioned by others, at the time I was looking for insurance a factor (not the only factor, but one of them) in my selection was whether they participated in SilverSneakers.  My friends good experience with AARP-United Healthcare and their good prices and participation in SilverSneakers made it a no-brainer to choose AARP-United Healthcare.  Just to be sure, I called AARP-United Healthcare and talked with them about their plans and confirmed that Plan F will cover everything at the Mayo Clinic that Medicare doesn't.

 

Unfortunately, I failed to ask them if they were planning to ditch SilverSneakers in the near future.  They had offered SilverSneakers for quite a while and there was no indication that things would change, but the world is a dynamic place.

 

Funny thing is that chances are good that I'll spend many more hours each year using SilverSneakers at a local fitness center than I'll spend being poked and prodded at the Mayo Clinc.  So, the benefit from AARP-United Healthcare that I would use the most won't be available next year.

 

I wonder if their next step will be to reduce their coverage of medical care at Mayo Clinic?  It seems unlikely, but that's what I thought about SilverSneakers.

 

A customer's trust is easy to lose and very difficult to regain, something the bureaucratic mind may not fully appreciate.

Honored Social Butterfly

@John85259

 

I really do wish you would read your "Medicare and You" handbook.

 

ALL Medicare Supplemental (Medigap) plans cover the SAME things-

Plan F by insurer A is exactly the same as Plan F by insurer B and the same for all the other insurers.  Same thing with Plan G - it is all the same regardless of the insurer.  The only thing different between them is the premiums each is charging you.

 

A Medigap policy ONLY works with traditional Medicare because it is GAP insurance.

 

If any doctor, or other provider - hospital, clinic, etc. in the WHOLE country takes Medicare assignment and you have a Medigap Plan F - you can see anybody you want as long as they take Medicare assignment - Medicare will pay and your Medigap insurer will pay.

 

In fact, let's say when you turned 65, Medicare age, you were living in Florida - you signed up for Medicare in Florida - you picked your Medigap insurer and Plan F or any of the others.

 

Then you moved to Arizona - you do not have to change anything based on the move except your address for premiums and mail from Medicare.  You can still use traditional Medicare and the Plan F from Florida and it will cover you in Arizona AS LONG AS THE DOCTORS YOU SEE IN ARIZONA ACCEPT MEDICARE ASSIGNMENT - you are good to go, without missing a beat.

 

Traditional Medicare is a national program and your Plan F is your Medicare Supplemental plan - it is your GAP insurance.

 

You can look up any medical provider on the Medicare.gov website and it will tell you if they accept Medicare assignment or you can confirm with the provider.

See anybody that accepts assignment - They could be clear across the country and you would be fine with coverage.

 

This is directly opposite to Medicare Advantage plans.  MA plans are a different way of getting your Medicare benefits - They are more locally oriented in their list of providers who accept their specific plan.  They are sold on a state or even local manner - they are not national because they use networks of providers.

 

i hope I have explained this a bit for you.  Read your Medicare and You booklet.

 

 

It's Always Something . . . . Roseanna Roseannadanna
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We obviously know that Silver Sneakers is provided as an extra benefit. 

 

You are missing the point.

 

AARP is supposed to be looking out for MEMBERS.  If UHC would rather replace Silver Sneakers with it's own inferior program, that's their business,  BUT AARP should be actively looking to endorse a plan that does not drop Silver Sneakers, or DEMAND that UHC keep the program.  

 

AARP gets a whopping financial benefit from UHC and is ignoring the needs of it's members as a result.  

 

There is a happy middle.  Grandfather in participating members in Silver Sneakers and promote UHC's new program to others.  UHC's program will never measure up to Silver Sneakers and given a choice to remain with them or seek our a plan that includes Silver Sneakers is a no brainer for those who are enjoying Silver Sneakers.

 

AARP should not put it's members in that position.  Do your job and represent your members AARP.  It's the right thing to do.

Periodic Contributor

Gail,you sound like you are an employee of uhc or aarp"...........or at least you are defending the decision to drop silver sneakers.   Not sure which

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Just curious, is this a nation wide reduction of Silver Sneakers with AARP UHC? That would be a LOT of people affected!

Post the state you live in and type of policy when posting. We live in AZ and had Medigap policy.

Now changing to BCBS or Humana.

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Indiana - Plan F

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North Carolina Plan F

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I’m in Indiana. Plan F. 

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I am in Wisconsin. AARP Supplemental Insurance - Medigap not Advantage or Complete

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Connecticut Plan N

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To qualify for the medigap plan offered by United Health Care it was a requirement to join AARP. Please note that you DO NOT need to renew your AARP membership once your plan has been issued by UHC. In summary if you are renewing your AARP membership thinking it is a requirement to continue your UHC coverage, it is not.

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To qualify for the medigap plan offered by United Health Care it was a requirement to join AARP. Please note that you DO NOT need to renew your AARP membership once your plan has been issued by UHC. In summary if you are renewing your AARP membership thinking it is a requirement to continue your UHC coverage, it is not.

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I just called my insurance today and they said  they changed  names.

But are still paying  for  my  membership  at the YMCA, Planet Fitness  and Anytime Fittnes..

I am sooo  confused.. 

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They pay for NOTHING!  You, however, pay 1/2 the price of the membership price per month.  I was told by our Rec Center that they do not reimburse them for the other half which is why they rejected being part of their new program.

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And we have a letter from AARP/UHC which we can take to our local YMCA or Gym to encourage them to join UHC 50% off program for us seniors.  For 2019 our premiums have increased (again) and we have lost Silver Sneakers and we can go to our GYM to ask them to participate in the program.  So AARP/UHC are using us to market the new program which costs us money and costs AARP/UHC nothing.   Such a great deal for everyone, RIGHT?

Checking with my broker today to determine if we can change insurers for 2019 and will drop AARP when renewal arrives

Regular Contributor

Yes, you have summed up the scheme correctly. I plan to draft a  complaint to our State Insurance Commission and file a complaint online with Medicare. Even though AARP/UHC seem to “have the legal right” to do this, it doesn’t make it right.

 

If it is true that their Afvantage and Complete plans still Iinclude the Optum Fit membership for FREE, but exclude this benefit from the Medigap Supplemental plans, isn’t that discrimination?  

 

At at the very least, Medicare could reduce UHC’s star rating and AARP will lose membership. Make public opinion count. 

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I have written a letter to the CEO of United Healthcare and mailed it out last week. Not sure if he will read it or if one of his office assistants will trash it before it gets to his desk.

 

I like your idea of contacting the State Insurance Commission and Medicare to complain. I prefer to keep my medigap policy instead going over to a Medicare Advantage plan.

 

In the meantime, I am looking at the park district and fitness centers in my neighborhood that offer a senior discount.  I have found one that I may switch to.

 

 

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I will specify cc: AARP, UHC and Medicare on my letter to the State Insurance Commission. 

 

Our local Park and Recreation Center is looking into creating their own classes for Seniors at a monthly rate. Hopefully the cost will be reasonable. Also our Senior Center has an exercise class once a week as well as other activities and the fee is only $10 a year. 

 

I don't think there there will be an overwhelming amount of participation that UHC expected in their new program. 

Regular Contributor

You are very fortunate.  Our senior center has class for 8 weeks for $55 for residents and $65 for non residents.  Two of the classes offered were Silver Sneakers which was a big savings.

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