Renew Active vs. SilverSneakers: Comparing Medicare Advantage Fitness Benefits

Written by Ari Parker Updated: Friday, March 8, 2024

Renew Active and SilverSneakers are both types of fitness programs that come with certain Medicare Advantage plans at no additional cost to members. The biggest difference between the two is that you can only get Renew Active with select UnitedHealthcare Medicare Advantage plans. A SilverSneakers membership, on the other hand, is a benefit you can get with various insurance providers. 

In this article, we’ll highlight key similarities and differences between Renew Active and SilverSneakers. We’ll also discuss what’s important when choosing a Medicare Advantage plan and how you can enroll in the best one for you.

Key takeaways:

  • Renew Active and SilverSneakers are both fitness benefits offered by certain Medicare Advantage plans.

  • Various insurance providers include SilverSneakers as a benefit. Since 

  • UnitedHealthcare created Renew Active, and only select UHC plans include Renew Active.

  • Renew Active offers brain challenges, personalized fitness plans, and online hobby classes in addition to access to fitness memberships. SilverSneakers pretty much only offers access to fitness memberships and classes.

What is SilverSneakers?

SilverSneakers is a free fitness membership designed for older adults. Some Medicare Advantage and Medicare Supplement plans offer SilverSneakers to promote an active lifestyle. SilverSneakers gives members access to a network of 15,000 gyms, community centers, online and in-person fitness classes, equipment, and social events across the country. 

Insurance providers that provide SilverSneakers as a Medicare Advantage benefit include Aetna, CareFirst, Humana, and Washington National.

Pros of SilverSneakers:

  • Multiple insurance carriers offer the benefit

  • Access to a variety of fitness centers 

  • Online and in-person formats for fitness

  • Access to sample on demand videos and community forums with a free account

Cons of SilverSneakers:

  • Doesn’t include benefits to keep your mind engaged

  • No premium locations

  • No personalized fitness plans

What is Renew Active?

Renew Active is a fitness and wellness benefit for older adults with select UnitedHealthcare Medicare Advantage plans. Members have access to a network of 25,000 fitness locations, personalized fitness plans, online and in-person classes, social opportunities, and brain challenges to keep the mind sharp. Although locations can vary, Renew Active also offers premium gym memberships as an upgrade for people looking for personal training, message services, or other luxury amenities.

Note that not all UnitedHealthcare Medicare Advantage plans provide Renew Active as a benefit. Coverage typically varies by location and individual circumstances.

Pros of Renew Active

  • Community-oriented services for social interaction

  • Services that keep your mind engaged like online brain challenges and hobby classes for arts and crafts

  • Personalized fitness tracking

  • Access to a broad range of fitness activities and locations, including premium gyms

Cons of Renew Active

  • Only provided by one insurance company

  • Can’t access online platform without membership

Similarities between Renew Active and SilverSneakers

Both Renew Active and SilverSneakers:

  • Provide access to thousands of fitness locations around the nation

  • Offer online and in-person classes

  • Support ways to be social through events and online and in-person communities

  • Are included as a benefit for certain Medicare Advantage plans

The good thing about both of these programs is that they offer many different ways for older adults to stay active. Beneficiaries of either fitness program can choose between online or in-person classes. You can also find classes meant for people who are older or have mobility issues, like a joint-friendly yoga class or tai chi.

Differences between Renew Active and SilverSneakers

There are a few differences to keep in mind about Renew Active and SilverSneakers:

  • Renew Active offers more fitness locations, personalized fitness plans, brain challenges, and online hobby and education classes.

  • Only UnitedHealthcare Medicare Advantage plans may provide a Renew Active membership, but many insurance carriers offer SilverSneakers.

  • Unlike Renew Active, you don’t need a membership to access certain parts of SilverSneakers, like some on demand videos and the online community. 

At least for now, SilverSneakers is the more accessible option between the two for a fitness benefit included with a Medicare Advantage plan. 

How to find the best Medicare plan for you

Free gym memberships included in your Medicare plan can be a good perk, but this benefit shouldn’t be what you base your decision on. The best Medicare plan covers prescriptions, doctors, and services that are unique to your healthcare needs. Whether you want a fitness program included in your coverage or you need comprehensive benefits, our licensed Medicare Advisors can help you pick out a plan that takes care of you. Give us a call at 855-900-2427 or schedule a time to chat for free, personalized advice.

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