Gym Member Holding Exercise BallCertain health insurance plans may cover gym memberships, or at least offer a discount as an incentive to get you to join a gym. While gym memberships are not officially part of the preventative care covered by the Affordable Care Act signed in 2010, regular exercise has been shown to help people live longer, healthier lives.

Health insurance plans that recognize that fact may indeed help policyholders pay for a membership, although restrictions would apply. Each health insurance plan has its own rules, regulations, and guidelines and some may not cover gym membership costs at all.

What type of gym membership coverage is typical?

Health insurance plans that cover gym memberships usually offer a discount toward the cost of membership, according to CBS News. Many larger health insurance companies have jumped on the gym membership bandwagon, as have some employers. CBS says several of the major health insurance companies extend a discount on monthly gym membership fees, some as high as 30%.

Even if the healthcare plan through your employer does not offer any discounts for joining a gym, your employer may. Some companies have wellness and preventative care plans they implement on their own in an overall bid to keep healthcare costs at a minimum. Others may actually have a gym on the premises that employees can use for free.

What would be the gym membership restrictions?

A cap on the overall amount of money the insurance company offers for gym memberships per year may be one restriction. A standard maximum allowance falls around $250 per year. This would be equivalent to about $20 per month.

To get the full benefit from your insurance company, your monthly gym membership fees would have to be no more than about $60 per month. Of course, you would still get the 30% discount if your gym membership was cheaper than $60 per month, but you would not get additional funds if your membership cost more.

Another restriction may be the gym that is allowed under your plan. Just as health insurance companies have a list of healthcare providers that are in your network, you may find they have a list of gyms that are in their network. You could still join any gym you choose, of course, but you may not receive reimbursement if you go outside of your health insurance guidelines.

What preventative care measures are covered under the Affordable Care Act?

The Affordable Care Act covers a lengthy list of preventative care measures and any insurance plans that were put into place after the Act was signed must offer them to policyholders. The measures are broken down into three categories: those for all adults, those specifically for women, and those for children.

16 preventative care measures for adults are on the list of services covered. They include screenings for cholesterol, depression, alcohol misuse, tobacco use, and myriad other conditions. Things like aspirin use for adults of certain ages and counseling for sexually transmitted diseases are also part of the Act.

Women’s preventative services include additional services related to pregnancy and women’s health issues, for a total of 22 services. These include prenatal counseling, breast feeding pumps, and breast cancer mammography.

Twenty-seven children’s services are covered under the Act. They include services such as hearing screenings, blood pressure screenings, autism screenings, and immunization vaccines. Children can also benefit from free vision screenings, obesity screenings, iron supplements, and oral health risk assessments.

Not only are services under the Affordable Care Act provided at no cost to policyholders, they do not incur a shared cost by others in the insurance group. As with most services covered by health insurance companies, policyholders have to follow the guidelines set forth in the policy and meet the eligibility requirements of being a certain age or other specifications.

What about other discounts from the insurance company?

In addition to discounts for joining a gym, certain health insurance companies may offer other discounts on purchases that help improve or maintain your health. Discounts on home exercise equipment may be an option, as may DVDs and books that include suggestions or tips for living healthy.

Weight-loss programs may net a discount from your health insurance company. They also may offer discounts on home medical devices and equipment, such as personal blood pressure monitors. You might get break on the overall cost of consulting with online providers or purchasing over-the-counter vitamins and supplements.

Your insurance company may also offer discounts on alternative treatments, such as acupuncture and massage therapy. Dental products may be on their list of discounted items, as may eye care services and products. Hearing exams and hearing aids may count. You may be surprised at the number of preventative and healthy living items your insurance company encourages through a discount. Your good health, after all, is in their best interest.