Get fit while saving money by claiming gym membership on your health insurance.
With people today tending to be more health conscious than ever, many extras policies offered by insurers now pay benefits towards the cost of joining a gym or leisure centre. Depending on your cover you may also be able to claim for other health related activities such as yoga, pilates and zumba classes.
Which Australian health funds cover fitness programs?
|HIF’s Healthy Lifestyle Cover allows you to claim a benefit on gym membership, providing it is registered with Fitness Australia, recognised by HIF and forms part of a personal health management plan that is recommended by a doctor.|
|health.com.au covers offers cover for Health Maintenance programs that recommended as medically necessary by your doctor. These services can include weight management programs, gym memberships, pilates and yoga.|
Teachers Health Fund extras policies will pay a benefit for gym membership, pilates and yoga. The annual benefit limit is $200 per person for Top Extras, $150 per person for Essential Extras and $150 per person or $300 per family for the StarterPak combined policy.
All CBHS extras policies contain a Wellness Benefit that covers gym membership with a combined annual benefit limit of $115 ($100 sub limit on personal trainers) as well as an $100 combined annual benefit limit for yoga and pilates.
|AHM's Super, Family and Lifestyle Extras allow you to claim for yoga, pilates and exercise classes undertaken at a gym or provided by a personal trainer. A doctors referral is required in all cases and must be renewed every 12 months.|
|Australian Unity||Australian Unity’s Active Lifestyle Package covers a range of services including gym membership (50% of the cost, maximum of $160 a year), a personal trainer ($17.50 per session, maximum of $210 a year) and group exercise classes ($15 per class, maximum of $180 a year).|
|HCF’s Platinum, Gold and Silver Plus Extras policies lets you claim on a range of approved health programs including weight management, exercise classes and gym membership fees. A doctor’s referral required is required to claim.|
|nib’s Healthier Lifestyle cover lets you claim on gym membership, personal training sessions, yoga and pilates classes if they are part of a health management program under the care of a GP. You can also claim on fees for weight management programs recognised by nib (no referral required).|
|Transport Health’s Health Management Programs include reimbursement for weight loss programs and quit smoking programs up to $300 per person and $600 per policy.|
What do you need to claim for gym memberships?
Health insurers differ widely in their health-related extras cover. According to the Private Health Insurance Act, insurers can only provide cover for gym memberships if they are part of a fitness program to treat an existing medical condition. So to claim for gym membership, you may need some or all of the following:
- A policy that includes reimbursement for gym membership
- A referral from a GP or health professional
- Receipts from your gym membership or fitness classes
How much cover you receive for these health-related activities will depend on your insurer, the level of cover you have with them and the benefit limits that apply to your policy.
What does health insurance cover in the way of health maintenance?
Health maintenance programs contain a range of services covered by private health insurers which are designed to prevent illness and promote healthier living. Insurers reward participation in these programs, not so much out of the goodness of their hearts, but to reduce the likelihood of their members making claims – but either way, everybody wins. Typical health maintenance services include:
- Gym memberships
- Exercise classes (e.g. yoga, swimming, pilates)
- Skin cancer screenings
- Health assessments
- Weight management programs
- Quit smoking programs
- Consultations with nutritionists and exercise physiologists
How much can you claim back?
The amount you’ll be able to claim per year on these health-related services will depend on the level of cover offered by your policy. Maximum benefit limits are typically only a few hundred dollars a year, so you would need to weigh up the benefits versus costs to decide if it is the right sort of cover for you.
If you suffer from a chronic medical condition where such health services would be of benefit to you, it may be well worth your while to be covered. Or if they are services that you use regularly anyway, paying a few hundred dollars less for them every year would obviously make sense.
Either way, claiming for these services is generally a retrospective process, so you will need to pay for them yourself upfront and then seek reimbursement from your insurer, armed with evidence such as a GP referral and receipts proving it is a registered and approved facility.
What is excluded from cover
Exclusions or circumstances where a benefit would not be paid on this type of cover might include:
- If the gym or fitness centre is not approved by your insurer (some insurers require that you only attend facilities they have an agreement with)
- If the service was not medically necessary (many insurers require you to have a referral from a healthcare professional such as a GP, physiotherapist, chiropractor or specialist)
- If you hire a personal trainer or join a 24-hour fitness centre (some insurers don’t recognise these services)
Are personal trainers covered?
A possible reason why some insurers won’t cover the cost of a personal trainer is because the industry is largely self-regulated and only around two-thirds of personal trainers are registered with industry associations such as Fitness Australia or Physical Activity Australia. Registration with these organisations guarantees a personal trainer is qualified (minimum Certificate IV in Fitness, ideally Diploma of Fitness).
If you are thinking of using a personal trainer, make sure they are qualified and also:
- Insured. Public liability and professional indemnity insurance for personal trainers is optional, but necessary to protect you if you suffer a loss or are injured while using their services.
- Recommended. A good personal trainer will be able to provide references from satisfied customers and will be happy to do so, so make sure you ask.
- Affordable. A one-on-one session with a personal trainer can cost anywhere from $50 to $90 an hour and payment should be as-you-go, rather than requiring large sums upfront.
- Personable. A good personal trainer will be friendly, likeable, knowledgeable, patient and firmly focused on helping you achieve your goals.
Gym membership cover from Australian health funds
|Health fund||Do these funds offer any cover for gym memberships?||Find out more|
|AHM’s Super Extras cover reimburses you up to $16 per class (up to a maximum of $250 a year) for a range of health-related activities including exercise classes, gym classes, gym membership, a personal trainer, yoga, pilates and exercise physiology.||More info|
|Australian Unity||Australian Unity’s Active Lifestyle Package provides reimbursement for a range of services including gym membership (50% of the cost up to $160 a year), a personal trainer (up to $17.50 per session and up to $210 a year) and group exercise classes (up to $15 per class and up to $180 a year).||More info|
|Bupa's Living Well Programs is included in all of their extras policies and provides an annual maximum benefit of $100 per person to cover gym membership, pilates and select yoga courses.||More info|
|GMHBA’s Fit Packages (Entry, Standard and Top) let you earn reward points towards reimbursement for gym or leisure centre membership and pilates, yoga, tai chi and zumba classes.||More info|
|GU Health||Depending on your level of extras cover, you may be eligible for access to a Health Management Services benefit, which pays towards the cost of yoga, yogalates, gym membership, pilates and tai chi (doctors referral required).||More info|
|HBF includes a Healthy Living Programs benefit in their Flexi Extras policy that includes cover for activities such as pilates and yoga. Flexi Extras reimburse you 50%, Flexi Extras Mid 65% and Flexi Extras Plus 75%.||More info|
|HCF’s eligible Extras cover lets you claim on a range of approved health management programs including weight management, exercise classes and gym membership fees for specific health conditions (doctor’s referral required).||More info|
|health.com.au covers some of the costs of health maintenance programs completed under the care of a GP including weight management programs, gym memberships, pilates and yoga.||More info|
|HIF’s Healthy Lifestyle cover allows you to claim a benefit on gym membership, providing the gym is registered with Fitness Australia, recognised by HIF and forms part of a personal health management plan (GP referral required).||More info|
|Medibank offer a smartphone app service called GymBetter that allows you to pay as you go with single-visit passes at participating gyms. While this service is available to anyone, Medibank members receive a 25% discount when they use the service.||More info|
|nib’s Healthier Lifestyle cover lets you claim on gym membership, personal training sessions, yoga and pilates classes if they are part of a health management program under the care of a GP. You can also claim on fees for weight management programs recognised by nib (no referral required).||More info|
|Transport Health’s Health Management Programs include reimbursement for weight loss programs and quit smoking programs up to $300 per person and $600 per policy.||More info|
|Restricted fund*||All of CBHS's extras policies contain a Wellness Benefit that covers gym membership (overall limit $115, $100 sub limit on personal trainers) as well as yoga and pilates ($100 overall limit for those two services).||More info|
|Restricted fund*||The Premium and Smart Extras policies include cover for gym membership, with an annual limit of $100 per person or $200 per membership (doctors referral required).||More info|
|Restricted fund*||Teachers Health Fund extras policies will pay a benefit for gym membership, pilates and yoga. The annual benefit amount is $200 per person for Top Extras, $150 per person for Essential Extras and $150 per person or $300 per family for the StarterPak combined hospital + extras policy.||More info|
*Restricted funds only provide cover to members of specific industries, groups and organisations. In some cases family members may also be eligible to join.