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Independence Blue Cross Offers New Free Fitness Program to Medicare Members

PHILADELPHIA, Feb. 1 /PRNewswire/ -- Independence Blue Cross (IBC) announced it is offering the award-winning Healthways SilverSneakers(R) Fitness Program to its Medicare Advantage members. Nearly 70 percent of people who participate in this nationwide program report improved overall health.

The program provides members in IBC's Keystone 65, Personal Choice 65, and Select Advantage health plans a free basic membership at any participating SilverSneakers or Silver Access fitness center that promotes physical activity, along with specialized fitness classes, aerobics and social events.

"We are committed to strengthening the health of our members in the Philadelphia region by offering innovative wellness initiatives like SilverSneakers," said Joseph A. Frick, president and CEO of IBC. "By removing gym fees and offering tailored fitness and social programs for Medicare Advantage members, we hope to encourage more members to get physically active and stay well."

The SilverSneakers program includes a network of fitness centers in Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia counties. There are two types of locations: SilverSneakers and Silver Access fitness centers. Both offer free access to amenities such as treadmills and weights included in the basic gym membership.

In addition, SilverSneakers centers offer members specialized fitness classes taught by certified SilverSneakers instructors. The classes focus on improving strength, flexibility, balance and coordination. Also, each SilverSneakers fitness center has a trained Senior Advisor who assists members in using center resources and classes. A unique reciprocity agreement allows SilverSneakers members to visit any of more than 2600 participating locations when they travel. Members who enroll at a Silver Access location may also attend specialized fitness classes at any SilverSneakers location.

IBC Medicare Advantage members only need to show their IBC identification card and complete a short application at a center to become part of the program. Individual SilverSneakers fitness centers might require additional enrollment information. IBC is collaborating with Healthways of Nashville, TN, which developed and provides SilverSneakers for IBC Medicare Advantage members.

"The long-term health benefits of regular exercise for Medicare Advantage members are compelling," said Steve Lindstrom, Healthways senior vice president. "Enrollment in a fitness program is an excellent way to assure that adults get the exercise they need."

SilverSneakers is one of several enhancements IBC has made to its Medicare Advantage products for 2008. Other changes include the introduction of new plans with $0 premiums and low member cost share, as well as Private Fee For Service plans called Select Advantage that do not require referrals and generally allow members to use any Medicare-approved provider. SilverSneakers replaces IBC's current fitness reimbursement program for Medicare Advantage members.

About Independence Blue Cross

Independence Blue Cross is a leading health insurer in Southeastern Pennsylvania. IBC and its affiliates provide coverage to nearly 3.4 million people. For 70 years, Independence Blue Cross has offered high-quality health care coverage tailored to meet the changing needs of members, employers, and health care professionals. Independence Blue Cross is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, an association of independent Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans. For more information on Independence Blue Cross, visit our Web site at

About Healthways

Healthways, Inc. is the leading and largest provider of specialized, comprehensive Health and Care Support(SM) programs and services, including preventive health, outcomes-driven wellness, disease management and high-risk care management to health plans, employers and government. As of May 31, 2007, Healthways' Health and Care Support services are available to more than 27 million people nationwide. Healthways helps people lead healthier lives while reducing overall healthcare costs, providing people the support they need when they need it to enable them to make better choices and achieve better health outcomes. For more information, visit

SOURCE Independence Blue Cross
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