In a continuing effort to promote well-being, WellPoint, Inc. (NYSE: WLP) has extended its current contract offering Healthways (NASDAQ: HWAY) award-winning SilverSneakers ® Fitness Program to eligible members of several WellPoint affiliated health plans. SilverSneakers, the acclaimed exercise program designed to keep older adults active and healthy i, is provided to more than 700,000 eligible Medicare Advantage and Medicare Supplement members of WellPoint’s affiliated plans.
The SilverSneakers Fitness Program is designed exclusively for older adults. The program engages participants in active behavior change through access to a variety of physical activity venues and senior-specific programming that incorporates physical activity, nutrition, cognitive and social experiences.
“SilverSneakers is a great way for Medicare beneficiaries to get started or continue with an exercise program because it groups participants with their peers and provides them with age appropriate exercises,” said Leeba Lessin, senior vice president and president of WellPoint’s senior business. “We are very pleased to be able to offer it to eligible members in many WellPoint affiliated plans and we encourage them to take advantage of it.”
Physical activity can play a critical role in the prevention and treatment of various chronic illnesses. A published Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study found that individuals who participate in SilverSneakers programs have lower long-term medical costs and require fewer hospital admissions. ii A separate CDC study found that SilverSneakers provided tangible health benefits for high-risk members. Members with diabetes who were active in SilverSneakers were admitted to the hospital less often, had lower inpatient care costs and had significant reduction in overall health care costs after only a year of participation. iii“There is growing recognition that the most effective solutions are based on collaborative efforts that help individuals, wherever they may be on the health continuum, avoid the next episode of care. Research has consistently demonstrated that SilverSneakers improves the health and well-being of participants through its unique combination of exercise and social support,” said Ben R. Leedle, Jr., Healthways president and chief executive officer. “Many of WellPoint’s affiliated plans have provided SilverSneakers access to eligible Medicare Advantage and Medicare Supplement members since 2003. By continuing to offer the SilverSneakers program, WellPoint has confirmed its commitment to providing time-tested, proven solutions to help improve not only the physical health of plan members, but also their overall well-being.”