Medicare Coverage of TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulator) Device


What It Is

An outpatient medical device to reduce acute postoperative or unmanageable chronic pain

What's Covered

Medicare Part B and Medicare Part C plans cover rental, and in some cases purchase, of a TENS device prescribed by a physician, but only under limited circumstances. The coverage rules differ depending on whether the patient is suffering acute postoperative pain or chronic pain.

  • Acute post-operative pain. Medicare Part B covers the rental, for up to 30 days, of a TENS device for a patient in acute pain immediately following a surgical procedure. Coverage can be extended for rental beyond the initial 30 days in exceptional circumstances, as documented by the physician.

  • Chronic pain. Medicare Part B may cover a TENS unit for a patient who has been suffering from chronic pain for at least three months, for which other, standard pain relief methods have failed. The pain must be of the type that typically responds to TENS; this does not include headache, internal abdominal pain, or temporomandibular (TMJ) pain in the jaw or face.

A qualifying chronic pain patient initially rents a TENS device for 30 to 60 days, after which the treating physician must certify that the device is likely to provide the patient with significant long-term pain relief. If the device is so certified, Medicare Part B will cover purchase of the TENS device.

If you have a Medicare Part C Medicare Advantage plan: Medicare Part C Medicare Advantage plans, also called Medicare Advantage plans, must cover everything that's included in original Medicare Part B coverage. But sometimes a Part C plan covers more, with extra services or an expanded amount of coverage. To find out whether your Medicare Part C plan has expanded coverage for a TENS device, contact the plan directly.

What Medicare Pays

Medicare Part B pays 80 percent of the Medicare-approved amount for the rental or purchase of a covered TENS device.

Under a Medicare Part C plan, co-payments for a TENS device may be different than under Medicare Part B. To find out what the copayments are for a TENS device under your Medicare Part C plan, contact the plan directly.

Warning: If covered equipment is rented or purchased under Medicare Part B from what's called a Medicare "participating supplier," the supplier can't charge more than the Medicare-approved amount for the item. However, a supplier who's enrolled in Medicare but isn't an officially "participating" supplier may charge more than the Medicare-approved amount. In that case, the patient must personally pay the difference between the Medicare-approved amount and the amount the supplier actually charges (on top of the 20 percent of the Medicare-approved amount that Medicare Part B doesn't pay).

Important: Regardless of the rules regarding any particular type of care, in order for Medicare Part A, Medicare Part B, or a Medicare Part C plan to provide coverage, the care must meet two basic requirements:

  • The care must be "medically necessary." This means that it must be ordered or prescribed by a licensed physician or other authorized medical provider, and that Medicare (or a Medicare Part C plan) agrees that the care is necessary and proper. For help getting your care covered, see FAQ: How Can I Increase the Odds That Medicare Will Cover My Medical Service?

  • The care must be performed or delivered by a healthcare provider who participates in Medicare.

Was this medicareinformation helpful?

21 Comments So Far. Add Your Wisdom.

2 months ago

We just sent our Tens Unit back because we couldn't get an answer whether it was covered by Medicare or Blue Cross. We ordered a similar unit from www.heartlandamerica.com for $27.00 including shipping. I don't work for this company...just get their catalog.


3 months ago

Undoubtedly, <a href="http://www.medicalproductsonline.org/tens-units-section.html">Tens Units For Pain Relief </a> are very useful. Nowday's most of the person like to use them.


8 months ago

Hi i am really needed one of these machines and i was wondering if you can help me get one..please..


9 months ago

I have PAD and it makes walking unbearable. I had stents put in my leg and that didn't help. I went to a Pain Doctor and she ordered the TENS unit. Hopefully Medicaire will pay for it as I am on Social Security Disibility and couldn't begin to afford it.


about 1 year ago

I have a friend who uses the ReBuilder. It's like a TENS device and she got it paid for by Medicare. They say the ReBuilder has been covered for thousands of people through Medicare. I'm going to wait until I see my doctor next but it was very helpful to talk about my situation with them.


over 1 year ago

Guys tens units are great but without proper spinal care from a chiropractor the tens units will only make the pain subside, not fix the problem.


over 1 year ago

i asked grant county medical of uyless ks and as what type of tens does med cover and they stated they didn''t know. i told them i had just got a new hip my left. i also told them my doc had writting a script. they told me it , would not cover . and if so it would be about 400 dallors. i would like if some one would help me in how and what type of tens med pays for. I asked them of type of tens and said they did nt know. hell if you have a bussiness would you not know or are you just trying to srcew me.


almost 2 years ago

I've used my Tens Unit for the past 8 years for chronic back and neck pain due to degenerative disc disease ,spondylosis and arthritis. I find the instrument to be wonderful because it keeps my pain under control in order to be able to perform ordinary tasks.


Anonymous said almost 2 years ago

I have been in chronic, excruciating pain going on 7 months now. I have had 2 spinal epidurals, trigger point injections, an EMG (nerve damage test), PT-to no avail. This TENS unit would be a life saver. I was in a car accident that deformed my spine; the MRI shows 4 sites of herniated discs. Most of my life is spent in bed. This is no way to live. Not only did Medicare deny me Lidoderm patches, now I hear that my insurance will not be covering the only other aid in pain relief. The car accident was not even my fault, but I continue to pay every day. My life is chronic pain. Medicare recipients understand what the insurance company is saying by denying so much in the way of pain relief. You are screaming from the rooftops that this population simply doesn't matter. We all get that. It's discriminatory and disheartening. Even our insurance carriers don't think our lives are worth saving.


almost 2 years ago

I can't even sleep without my Tens unit, what a lifesaver for the chronic pain I have in my lower back and hip. PLEASE MEDICARE, have mercy on us patience with these units. If you've ever had any extended chronic pain, believe me you would have compassion on us. Thank you very, very much!


about 2 years ago

I am so thankful for the Tens unit. I have been using it for a long time now,it makes my pain so much better. With out my Tens i probely could _ could not walk very well at all. Thanks so much.


about 2 years ago

My tens unit has helped me so very much, I can not express just how much it has been a live saver. Some people just do not realize how much pain a person can be in. My pain is so extreme that some days I would do almost any thing not to be here. But then I think about my family and things change in my mind. So congress needs to think about the whole picture not just a small slice of the picture. Tens units are such a relief from the pain, keep this in mind people.


over 2 years ago

Thank you for this info on the Tens unit. I went to the pain clinic yesterday and was given a Tens unit of my own. Medicare pays for it if your pain is chronic. If your pain is acute you can rent one.


over 2 years ago

Before receiving the TENS unit, I could barely walk. When I did walk I was using crutches, walking was extremely painful (due to leg injury and several back problems) muscle relaxers and pain medications were not helping. The TENS unit changed my life completely! I couldn't believe it! I could walk without the pain. I stopped taking the muscle relaxers and the pain medications. I still used the crutches for a while, then when shopping I would always take a cart to walk with while leaving the crutches in the trunk. However today, there are times I can shop without the crutches or the cart! I can keep my balance and walk on the treadmill for almost 15 minutes (before I couldn't stand up that long, nor keep my balance without much pain)! Needless to say, the TENS UNIT was like a miracle for me, absolutely amazing and made such a difference in my life! It gave me my life back! It was medically necessary for me, nothing else worked, if it weren't for this TENS UNIT I probably would have had surgery. MEDICARE ~ DOESN'T DROP THIS PRODUCT!!! IT WAS A LIFE SAVOR FOR ME! receiving the TENS unit, I could barely walk. When I did walk I was using crutches, walking was extremely painful (due to leg injury and several back problems) muscle relaxers and pain medications were not helping. The TENS unit changed my life completely! I couldn't believe it! I could walk without the pain. I stopped taking the muscle relaxers and the pain medications. I still used the crutches for a while, then when shopping I would always take a cart to walk with while leaving the crutches in the trunk. However today, there are times I can shop without the crutches or the cart! I can keep my balance and walk on the treadmill for almost 15 minutes (before I couldn't stand up that long, nor keep my balance without much pain)! Needless to say, the TENS UNIT was like a miracle for me, absolutely amazing and made such a difference in my life! It gave me my life back! It was medically necessary for me, nothing else worked, if it weren't for this TENS UNIT I probably would have had surgery. MEDICARE ~ DON'T DROP THIS PRODUCT!!! IT WAS A LIFE SAVOR FOR ME!


over 2 years ago

I didn't know what a TENS unit was,and now I do. I have an appt at the Pain Clinic so I will ask about whether it would be approprate for me.


Anonymous said over 2 years ago

It gives me relief.


over 2 years ago

I have used the tens unit for a year now, and it has really helped with my back pain. I have problems with the L-4 and L-5 discs and this is really a life saver. I can't say enough how much the tens unit has helped me. Thank you.


over 2 years ago

I have had 3 lower back surgerys, it would be almost impossibe to try to do with out my tens unit


Anonymous said over 2 years ago

the tens unit helps my pain so much, I don't know what I would do without it.


over 2 years ago

I was in an auto accedent over a year ago. my Tens has been a big helpt for me.I suffered from a compression frecture in my T-4 vertebare, in my upper back,this has been very painful. I still in pain I use my TENS daily, when I was in rehab they, used in on me almost everyday. and said it promotes.


over 3 years ago

verry helpfull.


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