Home » Episode #484: Navigating Health Club Memberships and Payer Reimbursements with Chris Craytor

Chris Craytor's journey with IHRSA, now formally known as the Health and Fitness Association, is a story of transformation and strategic development. When Craytor first joined the board, he was immediately faced with the challenge of fundraising for advocacy—a task that was met with more rejections than approvals. Despite the difficulty in securing even modest contributions, his determination did not wane.

Recognizing the newly imperative need for advocacy given what happened to fitness clubs nationwide during COVID, Craytor was instrumental in making a pivotal decision. He championed the hiring of seasoned political veteran, Liz Clark as CEO, a strategic move that was aimed at bolstering the organization's commitment to advocacy. Under this new leadership, the team's vision for the association began to crystallize, expanding its foundational pillars to include not only advocacy but also education and research.

Today, thanks to the tenacity and forward-thinking approach of leaders like Clark and Craytor, the Health and Fitness Association is poised as a multifaceted entity dedicated to the betterment of the industry it serves.

As exciting things continue to happen on the healthcare side, Craytor states, "This industry has been waiting for preventative health care to get covered for a long time. What we're seeing out there is programs and services being covered by payers that typically haven't been from those types of groups that are typically not losing their customers."

Key themes discussed

  • Encouraging member participation in fundraising.
  • Creating inclusive community-driven health club with programs.
  • Clubs managing referrals and effectively onboarding new members.
  • Health insurance industry expanding coverage to prevention.
  • Clubs benefit from streamlining and profit maximization.

A few key takeaways:

1. Chris details the success of WELLD in connecting health clubs with healthcare payers, allowing clubs to tap into insurance-based programs, such as those through Medicare Advantage. These memberships are growing at a rapid pace and offer significant financial potential to health clubs that can manage the complexities involved in administering these programs.

2. WELLD's platform has shown impressive results in reducing rejection rates for claims, with one large client reducing their rates to 0.12%, significantly minimizing revenue loss. This exemplifies the importance of efficient data management and processing in health club operations.

3. Craytor sheds light on the comprehensive onboarding process and the diverse amenities that modern health clubs offer. From employing nurses for health assessments to providing a range of physical activities and amenities like aquatics, spas, and racquet sports, clubs are becoming more inclusive and health-focused.

4. Chris and Pete also cover the shift towards more preventative health care measures, especially covered by Medicare, Medicaid, and retiree plans, reflecting a broader trend in the industry. This evolution requires health clubs to adapt, offering more health and wellness programs that align with these preventive health initiatives.

5. The transformation of IHRSA into the Health and Fitness Association (HFA) and the creation of advocacy groups highlight the industry's stronger focus on advocacy, education, and research. The discussion encapsulates challenges such as consensus-building within the industry for advocacy efforts and the difficulty in securing legislative support for initiatives like getting HSA and FSA dollars to cover health club memberships.

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