National gym chain to limit hours for Medicare members

Life Time, a gym chain with over 150 locations nationwide, will limit the hours members who receive their memberships through Medicare benefits can use the fitness clubs. 

In a statement shared with Becker's, a Life Time spokesperson said the changes were implemented after reimbursement rate negotiations with Medicare fitness benefit administrators. 

Beginning in January 2024, Life Time members who receive their memberships through Medicare benefits will be able to use the clubs from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekdays, after 2 p.m. on Saturdays, and all day on Sundays. 

The majority of Medicare Advantage plans — 98 percent, according to KFF — offer fitness benefits to their members, which can include free memberships to gyms. For traditional Medicare members, Parts A and B do not include fitness benefits, but some supplemental Medicare plans offer them. 

A Life Time spokesperson said the rates the high-end gym chain is paid by Medicare fitness benefit administrators are a "small fraction" of its normal membership dues. 

"Ultimately, as opposed to not renewing agreements and providing no further membership options for Medicare enrollees, we aimed to create a solution that could continue to serve a large and rapidly growing Medicare population and do so with a continued, significant price advantage," the spokesperson said. 

Life Time partners with several Medicare fitness benefit providers, including Silver Sneakers, Silver&Fit and UnitedHealthcare's Renew Active. 

A Life Time spokesperson said the fitness chain decided to restrict hours over limiting the number of times Medicare members can visit the club in a month, which other gyms have opted for. If Medicare members want unlimited access to the gym, they can upgrade their membership at a discounted rate. 

"We acknowledge that there is no perfect solution for everyone, but we believe we arrived at an offering that still provides strong value with unlimited visits, along with options," the spokesperson said. 

In December 2022, UnitedHealthcare said it would offer access to Life Time facilities for its more than 10 million Medicare Advantage members in its Renew Active program. 

"Life Time is implementing a change to their memberships that will impact people enrolled in Medicare health plans, including Renew Active by UnitedHealthcare members," a UnitedHealthcare spokesperson said in a statement to Becker's. "Our Renew Active program provides free memberships at more than 26,000 gyms and fitness locations nationwide." 

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