Health insurance companies today are of the opinion that prevention of ailments results in considerable cost reduction in healthcare. This is the precise reason why they are promoting fitness through discounts and reimbursement to their members when they join gyms or fitness clubs. If you think this is just a passing fitness industry trend, think again. Insurance companies have already acknowledged that personal training is a form of preventive healthcare.[i] It is believed that for ever dollar that insurance companies spend on prevention, they end up saving $10 for treatment.[ii]
This is one of the reasons why insurance companies today are partnering with health clubs to offer discounted and reimbursable services or memberships.[iii] So, if your gym members are paying around $50 a month as fees and if the insurance provider is giving them a 50% reimbursement, they would get $25 discount each month.[iv] This proves to be an attractive proposition for most. So, gym and fitness club owners should target this group of customers to increase their membership rates.
Potential customers will check your affiliations before becoming members
It is not uncommon for individuals to check today whether the health insurance providers cover particular gym memberships. You should therefore actively check with the insurance providers to see whether you can affiliate your business with them. Once you have an array of insurance provider affiliations, it is vital that you advertise your business as one that has an understanding with insurance companies. You can advertise this new fitness industry trend through the news letters you send to your members. You can also make this information a part of your website and social media platforms as one of the benefits of joining your gym.
The business of fitness today is highly competitive and you need to stand out from the crowd. One of the things you can do is become a thought leader in the industry and proactively provide information to the public about insurance options. You could even guide them on choosing the best insurance plans from the fitness fee perspective.
Encourage the doctors to recommend your gym
Pharmaceutical companies have been targeting doctors for decades now to promote their brands. This is because when a doctor recommends something, people tend to take a serious note of it. You can follow the same model to promote your business too. Insurance companies are more likely to approve reimbursements for fitness if they are prescribed by a doctor.
So how exactly do you engage with a doctor to support his clients joining your gym? You can make the doctors in your area aware of your health club’s promotions so that they know the kind of services you provide. It also keeps the name of your business on top of the doctors’ mind when they recommend fitness centers. You could even proactively provide discounts or free memberships to doctors, chiropractors, and other professionals in the medical community so that they are aware about your gym’s amenities.[v]
Customize your business to accommodate the insurance company requirements
Most insurance companies necessitate that their members go to the gym at least the minimum number of times as specified by them. The gym could be required to furnish information about this to the insurance companies through the means they specify. It is therefore essential to set up a gym member tracking system where attendance of your members is recorded in a way that is acceptable to insurance companies. Also, if you are required to have certifications and other qualifications, you must get them to make the insurance providers confident about the quality of service you provide.
Even though the gym industry is largely unregulated today, the time may soon come where certifications become necessary. With the insurance companies seeing fitness clubs as a part of the healthcare system, the industry may be compelled to follow the standards set soon just like hospitals. So, it is necessary that you have reliable equipment in your gym and encourage your trainers that they get well-recognized certifications to become a part of this fitness industry trend.
Insurance companies could become a part of fitness industry
Hospitals cannot survive without affiliating themselves with insurance companies today. Your gym too could be compelled to follow this path soon. If you have ignored insurance affiliations so far, you would be wise to reconsider your strategy. You do not want be left behind when insurance reimbursements become a norm and most people start factoring this in before joining the gym.
Expand your services
It is not uncommon these days to see insurance companies covering alternative treatments such as acupressure, acupuncture, chiropractic care and physical therapy. You can easily customize your organization to offer such services. All you need to do is employ experienced, certified professionals in these fields along with the personal trainers. By doing this, you also give better options to doctors to prescribe your facility for treatment.
Another great idea would be to come up with special programs to counter obesity, heart diseases and other such ailments, which are easily controlled through exercise. If you promote yourself as a solution to these problems that are widely prevalent in the US today, you stand a good chance to be noticed by doctors and insurance providers.
The most important aspect is to keep yourself open to such options as insurance reimbursement. As a fitness business owner, you need to keep yourself updated about these fitness industry trends and reap benefits from them in the form of increased memberships.
[i] NetPlaces, Being a Personal Trainer, Preparing for the Future, on the Internet at http://www.netplaces.com/personal-trainer/preparing-for-the-future/the-future-of-the-personal-training-industry.htm (visited May 25, 2013).
[iii] About.com, Health Insurance, Wellness Programs and Your Health Insurance, on the Internet, http://healthinsurance.about.com/lw/Health-Medicine/Drugs-and-treatments/Wellness-Programs-and-Your-Health-Insurance.htm, (visited May 25, 2013).
[v] Yahoo Voices, Marketing, How to Increase Gym Membership Retention: How Partnering with Medical Providers Creates a Win-Win-Win Situation, on the Internet at http://voices.yahoo.com/how-increase-gym-membership-retention-12138611.html (visited May 25, 2013).