Paying for gym membership

My 20-year-old daughter is obese and has high blood pressure.  Our health insurance plan pays for her to see a dietician, but I think what she really needs is to join a gym and work with a trainer.  Obviously, gym membership and trainer fees are not covered by health insurance.  Is there any way to pay the gym fees from our medical reimbursement account?

Trying to Help Her Slim Down

Dear Trying to Help,

The short answer to your question is yes; your medical reimbursement account can pay some gym fees for your daughter. You cannot get the membership dues, but you can get the fees charged for weight loss activities.  The gym staff is, no doubt, familiar with how to bill you to maximize your benefit.  You can also get fees for weight loss programs, such as Weight Watchers.

The medical reimbursement account will pay these fees because she has been formally diagnosed with obesity and/or high blood pressure.  It would not pay gym fees for someone who just wanted to be more fit.  Your reimbursement account administrator may ask that her doctor confirm the diagnosis in writing.

Your health insurance plan probably has a deal with gyms to give you a discount.  You should check with your plan.

But the long answer is that even if you pay the dues for your daughter, you can’t go to the gym for her.  She needs to choose how she goes about dealing with her health issues.  She is an adult, and may resist your well-meaning efforts to help her.  You can do the research about gym membership, offer her the information, and then step back while she decides what to do.

Linda Riddell

About Linda Riddell

A published author and health policy analyst with 25 years’ experience, Linda Riddell's goal is to alleviate the widespread ailment of not knowing what your health plan can do for you.