SAN FRANCISCO and NASHVILLE, Tenn.
- Blue Shield of California is now offering the Healthways SilverSneakers Fitness Program (NASDAQ: HWAY) to subscribers of Blue Shield Medicare Supplement Plans throughout California. SilverSneakers, the nation's leading social support and exercise program designed to keep seniors healthy, has been a popular benefit with California Medicare HMOs, but Blue Shield is one of the few health plans in the state to offer the benefit as part of its Medicare Supplement plans as well.
"Today's older adults strive to maintain physical and mental health as well as quality of life. We're proud to take an industry-leading position in promoting wellness and prevention by enabling all our Medicare Supplement plan subscribers around the state to access SilverSneakers as part of their efforts to pursue an active, independent lifestyle," said Marc Russo, vice president of Senior Markets at Blue Shield of California.
Research has demonstrated SilverSneakers improves the health and well-being of participants through its unique combination of exercise and social support. A 2008 study sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found SilverSneakers provided tangible health benefits for high-risk members. Members with diabetes who were active in SilverSneakers are admitted to the hospital less often, have lower inpatient care costs and have significant reduction in overall healthcare costs after only a year of participation. (1)
"We are proud to partner with Blue Shield of California on the vision of strengthening senior health and well-being while lowering overall healthcare costs," said Healthways President Steve Brueckner. "Healthways applauds the commitment to health demonstrated by expanding access to SilverSneakers' benefits to members of Medicare Supplement plans statewide."
Blue Shield's current Medicare Supplement plan subscribers can join the program at no additional cost and enjoy fitness, fun and friends with the award-winning program. The Healthways SilverSneakers Fitness Program, designed exclusively for older adults and taught by certified instructors, offers an innovative blend of physical activity, healthy lifestyle direction and social opportunities to Medicare-eligible individuals. Studies have found individuals who participate in SilverSneakers have a significantly lower risk of depression and require fewer admissions to the hospital. (2)
The SilverSneakers premier network provides eligible Blue Shield of California Medicare Supplement Plans subscribers with access to a variety of participating fitness and wellness facilities throughout the country, including YMCAs, Curves and Bally Total Fitness. Many sites offer amenities such as exercise equipment, treadmills and free weights, and the signature SilverSneakers fitness classes. Additional signature classes, such as YogaStretch and SilverSplash, may be available at select locations. Designated SilverSneakers staff members are available to guide members along the way.
Blue Shield's Medicare Supplement Plans subscribers who reside 15 miles or further from a participating location have access to the SilverSneakers Steps program. Members count the steps they take daily while engaging in activities they enjoy such as walking, dancing, playing with the grandkids or working in the yard. SilverSneakers Steps members receive a kit that includes a step counter, exercise bands, an exercise DVD, exercise illustration cards, and a drawstring bag to store their Steps program tools. SilverSneakers Steps provides another way for Blue Shield's Medicare Supplement Plans subscribers to improve their health whether at home or away.
Eligible members will only need to show their Blue Shield identification card and complete a short form at a participating location to activate their membership in SilverSneakers. For a list of participating locations or to inquire about SilverSneakers Steps, subscribers can call Healthways at 888-423-4632 or visit www.silversneakers.com. To inquire about becoming a Blue Shield Medicare Supplement Plans subscriber, call 888-713-0000, 8:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m. PST, Monday - Friday (excluding holidays), or visit www.blueshieldca.com and click on "Medicare eligible health plans" to learn more.
Background on Blue Shield of California
Blue Shield of California, an independent member of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, is a not-for-profit health plan dedicated to providing Californians with access to high quality care at an affordable price. Founded in 1939, it now has 3.4 million members, 4,800 employees, one of the largest provider networks and more than 20 office locations, providing a wide range of commercial and government products throughout the state. Blue Shield of California has contributed more than $100 million over the past three years to the Blue Shield of California Foundation, which this year was named one of BusinessWeek's top 20 most generous corporate foundations. The Foundation works to improve access to quality health care in California by funding nonprofits across the state. Contact your local agent or broker for more information about Blue Shield products and services, or visit the Blue Shield web site at www.blueshieldca.com