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Silver Sneakers

I live in California and am covered by Medi-Cal. Is there anyone that has experienced any coverage problems?

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AARP is shameless. The latest AARP Bulletin calls out a relationship between falling and death for seniors WITHOUT any mention of the proven value of Silver Sneakers classes for better balance. Actually without any reference to exercise and balance training and mobility for seniors. Just the fact that death and falling are a growth "item" 

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Newbie

I had Silver Sneakers with AARP-United Health for a few years and today I went to the gym and was told my memebership had been cancelled. AARP-United Health informed me that they had cancelled (without informing me) Silver Sneaker program. The new program was called health and wellness which only covers 50% of membership fee. I thought AARP wants us to be healthy, hence Silver Sneakers. I guess not.

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Newbie

Actually, UnitedHealthcare switched to Renew Active (www.renewactive.com) for the gym memberships. The main reason, as far as I can tell, is that Silver Sneakers only contracts with national chain gyms and does not contract with regional or local gyms. Renew Active contracts with both the same national gyms as Silver Sneakers, but also INCLUDES local & regional gyms that Silver Sneakers will not contract with. And it's still at no cost to me through my UHC / AARP Medicare health plan. Actually seems like a better deal to me than Silver Sneakers...

Honored Social Butterfly

@DennisP868028 

 

I think one of the problems with this whole tread and others like it is that people talk about their MEDICARE HEALTH PLAN - and they do not distinquish the type.

 

Medicare Advantage plans are completely different than Medigap plans.

 

AARP branded UHC Medicare Health Plans can be either; they write both types - A Medicare Advantage Plan OR a Medigap Plan.  You have to be a member of AARP to get an AARP branded UHC Medigap Plan; you do not have to be a member of AARP to get a AARP branded UHC Medicare Advantage plan.

 

Extra benefits are an easy add on to a Medicare Advantage plan - they are contracts that last only a years time; renewed the next year but benefits can change in that year.

 

Medigap plans are GAP insurance only and the benefits are described for each plan in detail by Medicare.  If an insurer decides to add some other benefit than those legislated by Medicare to a MEDIGAP plan - you better have it in black and white and they are not guaranteed benefits for a Medigap plan.

 

 

 

The way I understand it - Renew Active is a UHC Medicare Advantage plan benefit.

 

 

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Changes to supplement or Medigap plans vary by state for some reason.  AARP makes money off endorsements.  Those are fees paid to AARP.  Supposedly they are looking out for the best interests of its members.  To be honest, I haven't actually seen that happen now for some time.  They are in bed with who is sending them the endorsement money from what I can tell.  I think they used to lobby on behalf of the members but it appears now they lobby on behalf of its endorsers.  But you can make changes depending on where you live.  In California, right now and up until 4/15/19, you can make a change to Blue Shield of California Plan F Extra without underwriting, and for my family, it's about $40 a month cheaper, and it includes Silver Sneakers.  Our application is underway.  I'm just an old retired doctor and as such I can tell you there are no organizations looking out for doctors or for patients.  We are on our own.  So take the time to read up.  If you live in a state that likes to reduce and restrict access, you may have to deal with it at the ballot box.  With people calling for Medicare for All, we are seeing the insurnace companies fighting back with their purchase of congressmen and other legislators.  This is the time to get aggressive back.  

Contributor

Silver Sneakers is a well needed program for seniors. Seniors like myself cannot afford to pay for a gym. Please have some compassion and restore this program.

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Honored Social Butterfly


@pfwest wrote:

Silver Sneakers is a well needed program for seniors. Seniors like myself cannot afford to pay for a gym. Please have some compassion and restore this program.


What about seniors that can't afford a Medigap plan?

What about seniors that only have traditional Medicare?

What about seniors that depend on Medicaid to pick up some of their Medicare.

 

Some seniors might say, if you "need" it, you pay for it -

 

If (any) exercise and wellness program is a "needed" program for seniors - shouldn't it just be added to the traditional Medicare benefit for coverage for everybody since it is a "need".

 

Yes, exercise, wellness, comraderie, etc. are all important to seniors to stay fit or just to keep moving and not isolate - but a "need" - not so sure it is that high up on the scale especially when compared to other things.

 

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Medi-Cal (Medicaid) offers Silver Sneakers....Medicar Advantage Plans offerSilver Sneakers.  It's the Plan F and G that they dropped SS off of.  I live on SS alone and know the importance of good medical coverage so I give up certain things to pay the extra premium. Medicaid patients have more benefits than we ever will get on Medi Gap plans.  Transportation, eye coverage, dental, braces, etc.   Theyjust can't go wherever they want.  I use Doctors and Hospitals by their skills and education wherever I want and get better care because the reimbursements are higher.  To take Silver Sneakers away from Medi Gap and not Managed care. Plans is prejudice.  I tried to change to a plan F plan that offered silver Sneakers and was subject to a physical and possible denial of coverage.  Am cancer pt.  The middle man gets hammered again.

Regular Contributor

Looks as if you reside in California and if so you should be aware of 'California's Birthday Rule'.  It essentially says that during your birthday month you may switch over to ANY other medigap plan offering 'equal or less coverage' than the one you now have without being subjected to underwriting by your insurance company of choice!

 

I highly recommend Alex Wender of Bluewave Insurance (a Medicare Supplement Broker).  Alex switched me from AARP's Plan F to Anthem Blue Cross Plan G (a more cost-effective plan that includes Silver Sneakers).  As I live in California, I switched during my birthday month and my health status was not scrutinized (underwriting) and my new plan with Silver Sneakers membership became effective the month following my birthday month.  Call Alex (800-208-4974) and tell him pvsurfer sent you (no sales pressure and his services are absolutely free)!

 

Be well & happy holidays...

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It's a real shame that AARP pushes United Health Care and they drop silver sneakers. I have only joined Medigap for the last year and half and find that I need a program like silver sneakers now. I have been an aarp member for the last 16 years and have registered for the next 5. I think I may have to reconsidered the benefits of AARP since they do not caree who they sponser for seniors.

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@s809426o wrote:

It's a real shame that AARP pushes United Health Care and they drop silver sneakers. I have only joined Medigap for the last year and half and find that I need a program like silver sneakers now. I have been an aarp member for the last 16 years and have registered for the next 5. I think I may have to reconsidered the benefits of AARP since they do not caree who they sponser for seniors.


Seems to me, there is a disconnect between what people think is the correlation between AARP and UHC - 

 

I guess I don't consider a "name royalty" as an endorsement.  I guess I don't consider any membership based benefit as being the best for me - it is just another to evaluate within the whole of whatever it might be - a Medicare plan, a life insurance policy, auto insurance, car rental, a health and fitness program, etc.

 

Actually, the way I understand it from my readings is, the ONLY place where membership is required with an AARP "branded" Medicare plan is for Medicare Supplemental policies (Medigap).  I believe the reason for this is because they are written under a (AARP-UHC)Trust with a Master Plan which crosses over states.  The Master Plan contains all those things which a Medigap plan MUST cover per Medicare (the law) - to which any "extra benefit" like a health and wellness plan, dental, vision - don't have to be covered and thus are deemed "extra" and can be cancelled or modified at any time.

 

If people would read their (Medigap) Evidence of Coverage explaining the plan which they have, they would see that any of these type of "extras" can be cancelled or changed at any time under whatever insurer.

 

You don't have to be a member of AARP to buy an AARP - Medicare Advantage plan.  Since they can change every year, people should make sure they know the changes BEFORE reupping yearly.  .  Medicare Advantage plans cover the same things as traditional Medicare but in a different way.  Medicare Advantage plans can also offer different and extra benefits - but here again, since people have to re-up them yearly, these too can change on a yearly basis.  This is doubly important if their Medicare Prescription Drug coverage is also included within the MA plan (MAPD).

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Periodic Contributor

You make it sound like it is easy to change Medigap coverage or who covers it. If you really did any research you will know that you only have the right to get coverage without examination on your initial inrollment. After that if you try to change, the insurance company has the right to deny or raise your rate based on your health. So to say just change coverage because you are not happy with the insurance company is not easy or even possible for alot of seniors. I found this out and did my due diligence and made my decision based on alot of factors including the fact that AARP endorsed it. If you look up Medigap programs this one is called "AARP United Health Care Medigap". I thought at the time when I made my selection that AARP would endorse the best for seniors, not have a company that builds up clients based on extras and then drops them after many can not change insurance companie easily or at all. "Extras" and trust count when you are making up your mind. All insurance companies have to follow the "Requirements" of Medicare. It can be the extras that make the difference.

 

Either you are not on medigap or you are one of the fortunate that can change medigap programs because of excellent health or are not aware of the restrictions that caused by trying to change programs after the initial windows. The open window every year allows you to change but it does say any company can not deny or raise your rates if you try.

 

If you are saying the AARP endorsed Unitited Health Care because they follow the required guidelines of Medicare, then that applies to all insurance companies So the endorsement is worthless. You are quite wrong if you think that an endorsement from AARP is not powerfull. One of the main reasons you would select AARP is because you trust that they doing the best for seniors. Why would you belong to the organization if it were not.

 

So based on what you are saying, all products that are endorsed by AARP are not really checked by AARP and probably not the best for seniors. If this is the case and you believe it, why are you a member? Just for the discounts? Which are no better then AAA. I would hope that you belong to AARP because it is an organization that is there to help seniors, not to sell to them.

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Honored Social Butterfly


@s809426o wrote:

You make it sound like it is easy to change Medigap coverage or who covers it. If you really did any research you will know that you only have the right to get coverage without examination on your initial inrollment. After that if you try to change, the insurance company has the right to deny or raise your rate based on your health. So to say just change coverage because you are not happy with the insurance company is not easy or even possible for alot of seniors. I found this out and did my due diligence and made my decision based on alot of factors including the fact that AARP endorsed it. If you look up Medigap programs this one is called "AARP United Health Care Medigap". I thought at the time when I made my selection that AARP would endorse the best for seniors, not have a company that builds up clients based on extras and then drops them after many can not change insurance companie easily or at all. "Extras" and trust count when you are making up your mind. All insurance companies have to follow the "Requirements" of Medicare. It can be the extras that make the difference.

 

Either you are not on medigap or you are one of the fortunate that can change medigap programs because of excellent health or are not aware of the restrictions that caused by trying to change programs after the initial windows. The open window every year allows you to change but it does say any company can not deny or raise your rates if you try.

 

If you are saying the AARP endorsed Unitited Health Care because they follow the required guidelines of Medicare, then that applies to all insurance companies So the endorsement is worthless. You are quite wrong if you think that an endorsement from AARP is not powerfull. One of the main reasons you would select AARP is because you trust that they doing the best for seniors. Why would you belong to the organization if it were not.

 

So based on what you are saying, all products that are endorsed by AARP are not really checked by AARP and probably not the best for seniors. If this is the case and you believe it, why are you a member? Just for the discounts? Which are no better then AAA. I would hope that you belong to AARP because it is an organization that is there to help seniors, not to sell to them.


The ease of changing a Medigap plan to a different insurer or a different plan - as long as it is equal to or less in plan design is largely up to a state.   As an example -several States have a birthday rule where it is easy to change yearly without underwriting.

 

Medigap plans have to cover specifics as defined by traditional (Original) Medicare and the plan design - those are the actual benefits.  Anything "extra" like some dental or vision coverage or a health and wellness program are not mandated by Medicare and do not affect the plans mandated coverage.  Read your plan - it should say something about these "extra" benefits like this (a disclosure) These are additional insured member services apart from the AARP Medicare Supplement Plan benefits, are not insurance programs, are subject to geographical availability, and may be discontinued at any time.

 

What I am saying is I do not consider a "name royalty" as an endorsement for ANY benefit - I pick any benefit based on what I need and then I look for the best place to fill that need.  Yes, I think that people are interpreting this "name royalty" erroneously - the AARP may endorse whatever benefits they want (Actually it is done by AARP Services, Inc.) but they are not the insurer and that is all left to the insurer - you sign the insurers contract of insurance coverage.   Look at all the AARP Insurance Disclosures:

https://advantages.aarp.org/en/about-us/insurance-disclosures.html

Providers pay a royalty fee to AARP for use of the AARP intellectual property. These fees are used for general purposes of AARP. AARP and its affiliates are not insurers. AARP does not employ or endorse agents, producers or brokers. Provider offers are subject to change and may have restrictions. Please contact the provider directly for details.

 

AARP does not recommend health-related products, services, insurance or programs. Insurance products carrying the AARP name are intended to be competitive products and may not be the lowest priced products. You are strongly encouraged to evaluate your needs and compare products.

AARP® Medicare Supplement Insurance Plans insured by UnitedHealthcare Insurance Company:

AARP endorses the AARP Medicare Supplement Insurance Plans, insured by UnitedHealthcare Insurance Company. UnitedHealthcare Insurance Company pays royalty fees to AARP for the use of its intellectual property. These fees are used for the general purposes of AARP. AARP and its affiliates are not insurers.

Insured by UnitedHealthcare Insurance Company, Horsham, PA (UnitedHealthcare Insurance Company of New York, Islandia, NY for New York residents). Policy form No. GRP 79171 GPS-1 (G-36000-4).

In some states plans may be available to persons under age 65 who are eligible for Medicare by reason of disability or End-Stage Renal Disease.

Not connected with or endorsed by the U.S. Government or the federal Medicare program.

This is a solicitation of insurance. A licensed insurance agent/producer may contact you.

CALL TO RECEIVE COMPLETE INFORMATION (INCLUDING OUTLINES OF COVERAGE) SHOWING BENEFITS, COSTS, ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS, EXCLUSIONS, AND LIMITATIONS.

You must be an AARP member to enroll in an AARP Medicare Supplement Plan.

WB26079ST

You can read all of them specifically at the link ~

 

Is the name attachment worthless - not to AARP since they make money off of it but are not any part of the insurance.   AARP has lots of "benefits" listed for membership but are they the best buy - maybe not and the disclosure says that.  You only have to be a member of AARP to get a AARP-UHC Medicare Supplemental policy - NOT a Medicare Advantage plan and many of the other insurance products.. 

 

If your current AARP- UHC Medicare Supplemental plan does NOT have a disclosure about these "extra" benefits and they are enumerated in your policy / contract - then take them to Court.

 

There is a new breed of Plan F design under some insurers - called different things but something like Plan F Extra or Innovative Plan F in various states - It offers many extra benefits - dental, vision, maybe others - Anthem and BCBS are some of the ones I have seen advertised - maybe state specific.  I don't know how these "extra" benefits are worded in the contract - or whether or not they will continue to be offered after 2020.  Maybe some of our Ins. brokers that frequent this site can tell us.  There is an extra charge for these type of Medigap plans.

 

AARP.org Mission Statement:

AARP’s mission is to empower people to choose how they live as they age.

 

AARP Public Policy

About Our Policy

AARP represents the needs of nearly 38 million members with lifestyles and political views as diverse as any group in the United States. Developing public policy recommendations that serve such diversity is a formidable task. We concentrate on the issues most important to those in the 50+ community as they age: economic security; health care; access to affordable, quality long-term care; creating and maintaining livable communities; consumer protections; caregiving; and ensuring that our democracy works better for all.  

 

I support this mission and most of their policies - I think they do some good work under the arm of the AARP Foundation.

 

I am no longer a member and just come here on many different boards to try to help educate people on current events that may concern them, and educate them on certain subjects with links to guide them in their own investigations.  I enjoy debating on the Politics and Current Events board.  You do not need to be a member to participate here. 

 

I haven't used any of the discounts since I was a member - think I might have used the hotel discount a few times way back when I was traveling more.  Think you have to use your card to ID you as a member of which I do not have any longer.

 

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Periodic Contributor

Take a look at this site on AARP https://www.aarp.org/benefits-discounts/?intcmp=DSO-HDR-BENEFITS-EWHERE. It is under member benefits. There is an advertisement from United Health Care that states 'The Only Medicare Suppliment Insurance Plans Endorsed by AARP". That says "Only" and 'Endorsed". The definition of Endorsed is to "Declare ones public approval or support of".

Again AARP is a powerful name no matter what small print you want to voice that AARP is just selling their name and everyone has to ignore it. You know that most people trust the AARP name and the companies that get the endorsement know that. I would think that AARP would want the best for the seniors not just a company that follows the Medicare Guidelines which is required by all Medigap companies. No matter what the small print says, I would hope AARP would fight for the best program available for it members. If what you say is true then any company of any product can claim anything, get the endorsement from AARP then change what they offer. I do not know if "some" states allow you to just change insurance companies every year, but most do not and when you research the rules you will find there is very few reasons a person can change companies without the possibility of denal or rate increase. Changing to a state that does not have your plan or your plan is dropped by Medicare being specific. What I am saying is if a company that is "Endorsed" by AARP and because of changes makes another company a better fit, then AARP; should fight for that company to match the others or drop their endorsement. AARP does not describe their relationship as "Royalty" but as an "Endorsement".

 

I am so glad you read all the fine print. I am sure you are aware that most seniors are not going to read the fine print and may not understand it if they did. They just trust in the AARP endorsement. Again the power of the name and the need not to abuse it. I see you are no longer a member so I don't see the point of you even contributing to this.  You must not believe in AARP and are not willing to support it.  AARP is suppose to be an organization for seniors and to fight for seniors

 

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As a physician, I have read the studies over and over and over that exercise, great nutrition, and connections - both social and spiritual - contribute to one's health benefit.  Speaking with a nurse on the phone, however, or receiving counseling about a condition and how to improve one's health actually does not.  So why in the name of heaven would they drop an exercise program designed to be of benefit to one that has shown to be of no benefit?  Let's just follow the money shall we?  Of course the obvious one is the fact that that UHC/AARP pays a fee to Silver Sneakers (well not any more).  But the less obvious is that insurance companies in most states are allowed to charge premium based on their cost plus a profit.  So if people's health deterioriates because they are not exercising, their health will inevitably decline and they will need to use medical services more often.  So that cost increases SUBSTANTIALLY.  So if the allowed profit is 10 percent, they get an increased profit.  Example:  Cost = $1000, + profit @10% = $1100 with $100 profit. If the cost is $1250, add the same allowed profit of $10% = $1375 total with $125 profit.  The fact that there is no gym not a silver sneakers within 20 miles of my home that I can join is of no interest to the greedy folks at UHC/AARP.

Contributor

I am very disappointed in AARP and United Healthcare regarding Silver Sneakers.  At the next open enrollment, I will be looking for a new insurance carrier.

Regular Contributor

@p107249I,  are you in a Medicare Advantage Plan or a Medicare Supplement Plan?  If the latter, there's no need to wait - you can to switch to another company's Medicare Supplement Plan at any time if you are in good health (as discussed in my prior post).  ...unfortunately, that's not the case if you are in a Medicare Advantage Plan. 😞

 

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Periodic Contributor

When AARP/UHC cancelled the free Silver Sneakers program, what they did was to DISCOURAGE seniors exercising, as many seniors could no longer afford a gym membership.  Without access to gym facilities, regular exercise almost always goes by the wayside.

Meanwhile, the prestigious Cleveland Clinic published the results of a ten year study on over 120,000 participants.  Their conclusion, published in the also prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) is that a sedentary lifestyle (lack of regular exercise) was MORE DANGEROUS TO YOUR HEALTH THAN SMOKING.

Said differently ( a little tongue in cheek), you would be better off starting to smoke than to quit regular exercise.

 

AARP is a wonderful organization.  But even wonderful organizations make mistakes.  AARP...PLEASE BRING BACK FREE SILVER SNEAKERS PROGRAM.  IF UHC WONT AGREE, FIRE THEM AND FIND A DIFFERENT PARTNER TO MARKET MEDICARE supplement and advantage programs.

 

AARP members....if you agree with this post, please send me an email at shamoo11111@yahoo.com.

Contributor

  1. 100% agree!!!!  Bring back Silver Sneakers or find another insurer who will!!!!!  Just to note, they are making this website hard to use so not as many responses will get through, shame on AARP and on UHC both.
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Newbie

Dear readers, please confirm that we can no longer qualify for silver sneakers through AARP, is that true?

If so what exercise service will AARP cover and how do we register? Thank you.

Contributor

The new plan is called HealthYourWay and it only pays for one half the cost of enrollment and not user friendly at centers when traveling.  The loss of Silver Sneakers is a big loss at the same time they  raised the monthly cost.    I intend to look for other coverage in October, suggest you do the same and let your friends know about the Silver Sneakers loss.

Community Manager
Community Manager

@le731  We have posted the information you are looking for here:  https://community.aarp.org/t5/Health/What-is-happening-with-the-AARP-Medicare-Plan-and-Silver/ta-p/2...

AARPTeri
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Honored Social Butterfly


@AARPTeri wrote:

@le731  We have posted the information you are looking for here:  https://community.aarp.org/t5/Health/What-is-happening-with-the-AARP-Medicare-Plan-and-Silver/ta-p/2...


AARPTeri,

While that is a good informative response from this membership organization, I believe they should go one step further and explain that the benefit which will be offered from UHC will be determined by what type of AARP Branded Medicare plan from UHC which they have.

 

AARP Medicare Advantage plans insured by United Healthcare will be offered the program called Renew Active, formerly Optum Fitness Advantage.

 

AARP Medicare Supplemental (Medigap) plans insured by United Healthcare are offered the program called Health Your Way.

 

Sometimes beneficiaries aren't given this detail and it is confusing to them when they try to get information - their plan makes the difference in how the UHC rep describes their optional health and wellness benefit.

Contributor

The new wellness plan with United Health Care (AARP)  .....sucks!!! They call it HealthYourWay, but it only pays for half the cost of enrollment and isn't accepted everywhere when traveling like Silver Sneakers.    A real loss...

 

I have the most expensive plan they have and they are taking away benfilts....Silver Sneakers is a good wellness benefit and I definitely will look at other plans in October before I renew with UHC and AARP.  Please post to facebook, instragram and other social networks so others will know about this loss of benefits.

Periodic Contributor

So this is the response of AARP & United Healthcare....

 

AARP Medicare Advantage plans insured by United Healthcare will be offered the program called Renew Active, formerly Optum Fitness Advantage.

 

AARP Medicare Supplemental (Medigap) plans insured by United Healthcare are offered the program called Health Your Way.

 

If AARP was really looking out for us they would have told United Healthcare the removal of silver sneakers was a deal breaker for recommendation but NO AARP did nothing in my view. If you also look at the Rx rteceommendation through Optum Rx you will find similiar tactics in the drug coverages.....I have complained to AARP and it looks like the only resolution is to change at open enrollment.....shame on me for not doing a better due diligence on these underhanded tactics but I mistakenly thought AARP had my back. WRONG AGAIN.....

Contributor

this is a very worthwhile cause. Bring Silver Sneakers back Now I have to pay and cannot afford this extra montly bill.

Contributor

AGREE!!!! BRING SILVER SNEAKERS BACK!!!!
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I forgot to mention that in 2018, UHC is estimated to earn over $12 billion dollars ( that’s Billion with a B) of net income.  This is an increase of about 120% in the last five years, so UHC is certainly not hurting financially.

 

i just don’t understand why UHC would anger such a large number of their customer base which has given them record profits over the past few years.

 

They have replaced the free Silver Sneakers program with access to a wellness coach.  I am pretty confident that the first recommendation of a fitness coach to stay healthy would be regular exercise, and would probably quote the Cleveland Clinic study as proof of the benefit of regular exercise.

Contributor

AGREE!!! The new wellness program called HealthYourWay only pays one half of the enrollment fee and is not usable when traveling. A big loss and I also intend to look for other coverage in October 2019
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