Does Medicare Cover Shower Chairs?
Shower chairs are not covered for the elderly on Medicare. Find out more about what Medicare covers and how to save money on the chair you need.
No, Medicare does not cover shower chairs, because they're not considered medically necessary. However, some – but not most – Medicare Advantage plans can help cover bathroom grab bars, and it's possible that Medicaid or VA benefits may help pay for a shower chair.
Why Does Medicare Not Cover Bathtub Chairs?
Medicare Part B covers personal equipment when it qualifies as durable medical equipment (DME). Typically, Medicare classifies a product as DME if it is designed to help with a specific medical condition and is made to last for several years.
Because shower chairs are not considered medically necessary, Original Medicare does not classify them as durable medical equipment. If you have Medicare and are in need of a shower chair or bathtub chair, you will most likely have to pay for it out of pocket.
Some examples of equipment that would be classified as DME and is covered by Medicare include:
- Hospital beds
- Blood sugar monitors and other diabetic supplies
- Home oxygen tanks and accessories
Even if they can be classified as medically necessary, there are still some types of equipment and supplies that Medicare will never cover. These items include DME that cannot be used at home (oscillating beds), convenience items (shower chairs) and products that get thrown away after use (incontinence pads).
If you are a hospital inpatient or in a skilled nursing facility, DME is covered under Medicare Part A.
Although Medicare Part A and Part B (Original Medicare) don't cover shower chairs or bathtub chairs, Medicare Advantage plans (Medicare Part C) can offer benefits that Original Medicare doesn't.
Some Medicare Advantage plans began covering bathroom grab bars, in addition to benefits such as prescription drug coverage, hearing, dental and vision care.
Saving Money on Shower Chairs for Elderly
The price of a shower chair can vary widely based on the kind of chair you need. Basic shower chairs can cost as little as $15, but more advanced models can cost up to $300.
If you need help paying for a shower chair, there may be ways to save money. Here are some tips that could save you money on the chair you need:
- Shower chairs through Medicaid
If you have both Medicare and Medicaid, it is possible that Medicaid will cover the bathroom equipment that Medicare won't, depending on which state you live in. Medicaid likely won't cover your chair if your need is for showering or bathing only, but it might cover it if you need a more advanced chair that can also help you use the toilet. Check with your state Medicaid office to see if you are eligible.
- Check with the VA
Veterans may be able to get a shower chair or grab bar through the Department of Veterans Affairs if the chair is deemed necessary for treating a medical condition.
- Shop online
Large retailers, such as Walmart or Amazon, may offer lower prices than your DME provider. When you shop online, you can compare products and prices to ensure you're getting the best deal.
- Ask a friend to build one.
If you don't need anything fancy, there are simple ways to build your own shower chair. If you have a handy friend or adult child willing to help you build it, you could get an effective chair at a fraction of the cost it takes to purchase one new.
Save Money on Medicare Costs
Although Medicare doesn't cover shower chairs, there are other items of durable medical equipment that Medicare may cover for your use. If you use Medicare-approved DME, you will be responsible for certain out-of-pocket costs, such as deductibles, coinsurance and copayments.
A Medicare Supplement plan – sometimes also called Medigap – can help pay for your out-of-pocket Medicare costs. Medicare Supplement plans are accepted by any provider who accepts Medicare, including durable medical equipment providers. Other insurance options might pay for shower chairs as well.
Compare Medigap plans in your area.Find a plan
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