Does Medicare Cover Yoga?

Fact Checked

See how you can get yoga covered by Medicare.

Yoga, a popular form of exercise that promotes mental and physical wellness, can be covered by Medicare. However, you’ll need to work through your coverage to get yoga classes paid for. Still, the work is worth it as the list of health benefits from yoga is said to include flexibility, weight loss, lowering stress, balance, and strength. Learn about Medicare coverage for Medicare exercise programs offered through Medicare Advantage (MA) and Supplement Plans.

Yoga is a popular exercise and training activity and is beneficial for the senior population.

  • Yoga on Medicare is available by prescription through Original Medicare and MA Plans.
  • Original Medicare is restrictive and yoga coverage must be billed through physical or occupational therapy, or intensive cardiac rehabilitation (ICR).
  • MA Plans cover Original Medicare options for yoga and often have fitness benefits including gym memberships and online yoga classes.
  • Supplement Plans pick up the remaining costs of Original Medicare physical therapy and ICR coverage and sometimes offer the same fitness benefits as MA Plans.
  • Yoga classes are supplied in a wide range of venues and programs which are not covered by Medicare.

Does Medicare Cover Yoga Classes?

The short answer is yes. However, because of its complicated rules for billing and coverage, we must work through the yoga on Medicare minefield carefully to understand the payment options for this type of exercise. Original Medicare, MA, and Supplement Plans cover yoga, but only under specific circumstances and programs.

Does Original Medicare cover yoga classes?

Original Medicare is made up of Medicare Part A and Part B and does not cover fitness programs, gym memberships, or yoga classes, though there are exceptions. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) does not recognize holistic, acupuncture, and fitness programs as being within the scope of standardized medical practice.

To get payment for yoga, you typically need extra coverage such as a Medicare Supplement Plan. However, yoga can be covered under Original Medicare if it is documented and billed under therapeutic procedure, group, or individual. This includes classroom programs, such as tai chi, yoga, chair aerobics, and therapeutic step classes.

Learn how and when Medicare pays for physical therapy.

CMS has determined that the Ornish Program for Reversing Heart Disease meets the intensive cardiac rehabilitation (ICR) program requirements set forth by Congress. Therefore, the Ornish Program is on the list of approved ICR programs available, allowing hospitals to bill Medicare for their patients’ yoga and group discussion sessions.

Does Medicare Advantage cover yoga classes?

MA Plans go beyond the scope of Original Medicare, and that may include yoga classes. An MA Plan may offer yoga classes as supplemental Medicare exercise programs to help you improve or maintain good health.

With the Medicare Plan Finder, you can compare benefits and find MA Plans that include Medicare exercise programs offering yoga on Medicare.

Do Medicare Supplement Plans cover yoga classes?

Medicare Supplement Plans pay secondary to, and traditionally cover, only services that Original Medicare covers. However, Supplement carriers have recently begun including fitness programs in their Medicare coverage.

Who Is Eligible for Yoga Classes Through Medicare?

Medicare Yoga Class Eligibility
Original Medicare Medicare Advantage Plan or Medicare Supplement Plan
If you are enrolled in Original Medicare, you are eligible for yoga coverage through the physical and occupational therapy and intensive cardiac rehabilitation (ICR) programs prescribed by your doctor. If you are enrolled in a MA or Supplement Plan which covers fitness programs, you are eligible for the online and in-person yoga classes they offer.

What Kinds of Yoga Classes Are Covered by Medicare?

Through Original Medicare, MA, and Supplement Plans, yoga can be accessed in different ways:

  • Inpatient therapy while in a skilled nursing or critical care facility
  • Inpatient as a component of qualified ICR programs
  • Outpatient services that are provided through Medicare-approved group or individual therapy
  • Gym memberships extended through an MA or Supplement Plan
  • Online classes offered through SilverSneakers and other fitness providers extended through MAand Supplement Plans

What Are the Benefits of Yoga for Seniors?

Seniors are an at-risk population because of isolation, a sedentary lifestyle, and aging, and yoga has been proven to help combat these challenges. It can help prevent the onset of osteoporosis, which leads to bone fractures.

Yoga enhances balance, flexibility, mobility, and strength. It reduces stress and lessens the risk for depression through improved sleep and heightened concentration. Also, group classes promote social interaction, thereby minimizing the effects of isolation.

What Other Yoga Options Exist for Seniors?

Yoga offers popular programs of exercise and personal training tailored to the senior population. They are offered in venues throughout the community with introductory costs of classes running from $15 to $40 per session and boutique programs in the $100s. Programs may be found with:

  • Gym memberships
  • Public and private studios
  • YMCA and YWCA facilities
  • Senior citizens’ centers
  • Apartment complexes and senior living centers
  • Churches, synagogues, and community centers

Learn More From Our Sources

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Medicare consultant and expert, seniors advocate, and author

Ron Elledge is an accomplished Medicare agent, planner, and author. Elledge earned a bachelor’s degree in Bible theology from International Seminary and spent 30 years in pastoral ministry. He began his current career in insurance with a specialty in Medicare in 2008 and has since authored “Medicare Made Easy: What Expats, Frequent Travelers and You Need to Know” and is often a featured speaker at the International Living conferences. Elledge is a contributor to International Living, supporting Medicare beneficiaries with articles, podcasts, and Q&As.

“A licensed seniors market insurance agent in Arizona and New Mexico, Elledge has helped thousands decipher the intricacies of Medicare rules and regulations, enabling them to make educated selections for their health care needs. As a world traveler with his wife, Shelli, Elledge specializes in Medicare for expats and frequent travelers. He’s up to date with Medicare regulations, coverage options, and enrollment protocols and is fervent in his resolve to present trustworthy data on this confusing and often maligned program.

“By obtaining dependable details on how to read their Medicare options, recipients can plan for it correctly and make the best choices,” says Elledge. “These choices often make a huge financial and emotional difference in their futures. When Medicare is correctly utilized, it becomes a powerful financial and medical tool for all who qualify.”