Do Gym Memberships Help Medicare Advantage Plans Attract Healthy Seniors?

A new study, which was published by the New England Journal of Medicine, found 35.3 percent of new enrollees in a fitness membership benefit plan reported "excellent" or "very good" health, compared with 29.1 percent in the group without the gym membership benefit.

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: Gym Memberships In Medicare Advantage Plans Cater To Health Seniors
Despite federal regulations that prohibit health insurance plans from cherry-picking their beneficiaries, some Medicare Advantage plans may be doing just that, only indirectly. A new study from the New England Journal of Medicine suggests that when Medicare Advantage plans alter their benefits to include perks like gym memberships, they tend to attract healthier seniors (Kulkarni, 1/11).

Bloomberg: Insurers Offer Gym Memberships With Medicare Programs
The offer of a fitness club membership is helping insurers including UnitedHealth Group Inc. (UNH) and Humana Inc. (HUM) draw healthier and less costly patients to their Medicare programs, said researchers reporting in the New England Journal of Medicine. The study found 35.3 percent of new enrollees in a fitness membership benefit plan reported "excellent" or "very good" health, compared with 29.1 percent in the group without the benefit. The number of plans offering the memberships rose to 58 in 2008 from 4 in 2002, the researchers said (Frier, 1/12).

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