Does Medicare Cover Mobility Equipment?
Medicare covers a wide range of mobility equipment, including wheelchairs, scooters, power wheelchairs, canes and walkers, as durable medical equipment. If your health care provider is enrolled in Medicare and deems the equipment medically necessary for use in your home, Medicare Part B will cover 80 percent of the cost, leaving you to pay the remaining 20 percent after you've met your deductible.
Does Medicare Cover Wheelchairs?
Wheelchairs are covered as durable medical equipment under Medicare Part B. If your doctor prescribes a wheelchair for you to use in your home, then Medicare will cover 80 percent of the cost. That leaves you to pay 20 percent after your deductible has been met. Your doctor and supplier must be enrolled in Medicare for the equipment to be covered.
Medicare may pay only for you to rent a wheelchair — not buy one — because a wheelchair is a more expensive and substantial purchase than other common equipment. Medicare typically requires beneficiaries to rent and not purchase items that are considered DME.
But any repairs or replacement parts that you may need will be covered by Medicare only if you own the equipment, while costs for rented items will fall to the supplier. Medicare often pays for equipment like wheelchairs to be rented for up to 13 months.
If you are prescribed a wheelchair to use in your home, you may want to look into various home modifications that can prevent falls and accidents. Past studies have shown that these modifications lead to fewer injuries among wheelchair users.
Are Power Scooters Covered By Medicare?
Scooters are covered as DME if they are prescribed for use in your home by a doctor. Medicare will also help pay for a power wheelchair if it is deemed medically necessary and you meet certain conditions.
A power wheelchair is essentially an electric wheelchair and is meant for people who don’t have the strength or mobility to safely use a manual wheelchair or steer a scooter. In addition to a written prescription, you also have to go through a face-to-face examination before Medicare will help pay for a power wheelchair.
- Significantly struggle to move around your home
- Can’t safely use a cane or walker
- Can’t safely use a wheelchair
- Don’t have the strength to operate or steer a scooter
- Go through a face-to-face exam with your doctor
- Can safely use the power wheelchair in your home
Medicare will cover 80 percent of the cost for a scooter or power wheelchair. You will owe 20 percent after you have paid your deductible. Your doctor and supplier must both be enrolled in Medicare. Scooters and power wheelchairs are not covered if you need them only for use outside of your home.
Medicare Coverage of Walkers and Canes
Medicare Part B covers canes as DME. This coverage does not include white canes for the blind. Your mobility must be significantly limited and affect you at home for Medicare to help pay for a cane.
Walkers and rollators are also covered, but only if they are deemed medically necessary. Your health care provider must prescribe the walker or rollator for use in your home for Medicare to cover it.
Unlike with wheelchairs, Medicare will likely help pay for you to buy canes and walkers instead of rent them. Medicare will cover 80 percent of the cost, and you will be responsible for the remaining 20 percent once you have paid your deductible. These items are covered only if your doctor and supplier are both enrolled in Medicare.
8 Cited Research Articles
- U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. (2020, August). Medicare Coverage of Durable Medical Equipment & Other Devices. Retrieved from https://www.medicare.gov/Pubs/pdf/11045-medicare-coverage-of-dme.pdf
- U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. (2019, October). Medicare’s Wheelchair & Scooter Benefit. Retrieved from https://www.medicare.gov/Pubs/pdf/11046-Medicare-Wheelchair-Scooter.pdf
- U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. (2019, January). Provide Compliance Tips for Canes and Crutches. Retrieved from https://www.cms.gov/Outreach-and-Education/Medicare-Learning-Network-MLN/MLNProducts/Downloads/ProviderComplianceTipsforCanesandCrutches-MLN7226536.pdf
- University of Washington. (2011.) The Power Wheelchair. Retrieved from https://uwmsktc.washington.edu/sites/uwmsktc/files/files/power_wheelchair.pdf
- National Center for Biotechnology Information. (2002, January). Wheelchair Users at Home: Few Home Modifications and Many Injurious Falls. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1447386/
- U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. (n.d.). Canes. Retrieved from https://www.medicare.gov/coverage/canes
- U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. (n.d.) Walkers. Retrieved from https://www.medicare.gov/coverage/walkers
- U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. (n.d.). Wheelchairs & Scooters. Retrieved from https://www.medicare.gov/coverage/wheelchairs-scooters