In the debate over cuts to Medicare Advantage plans, the first “extra benefit” I think of is the free gym membership that is offered by the most popular Medicare Advantage plans in Tucson. A person who has signed up with Health Net, Secure Horizons or Humana can go to one of a list of gyms in town and join for free. From my experience working with seniors, I can confidently say that this is a very popular benefit that is worth $30-$50 per month.
When I worked for one of the above-mentioned companies, I used to do seminars to present the benefits of enrolling in Medicare Advantage. At one meeting an attendee stopped me shortly after I began my presentation with, what he said, was an important question. He asked, “Does your plan include a free gym membership?” When I answered that the plan did offer a free gym membership, he said, “That’s good, because I’m not interested in your plan unless I can go to a gym for free!”
He wasn’t very concerned about the details of the plan benefits, which include co-pays for hospitalization, doctor visits and lab tests. His only concern was paying no monthly premium and getting a free gym membership. This is what I think of when I read about the great debate over cutting payments to Medicare Advantage. Will they cut the gym membership benefit?