How can I get the best deal for a power chair for my mom?

8 answers | Last updated: Sep 29, 2016
Emk asked...

Are the power chair "giveaway" ads, the ones that say that they'll work to get Medicare to cover all if not most of the cost of a power chair, a scam? Anything that promises to get MY tax dollars to pay for something makes me suspicious. But my 91 year old mother is beginning to consider one and, before she gets scammed into signing up for something before she realizes it, I want to research this for her. How do I find out which "power chairs" are best (best, and best for her) and which companies are ethical?


Expert Answers

Barbara Steinberg is the CEO and founder of BLS Eldercare Financial Solutions, which specializes in helping families pay for long-term care for their loved ones. A registered financial gerontologist, she speaks regularly on the topic of paying for long-term care and is a financial expert for Caring.com.

Yes, Medicare does help pay for power wheelchairs and scooters, but there are criteria that your mother must meet to be eligible. She needs to have: 1. A health condition that limits her mobility within her home. 2. A need for assistance with Activities of Daily Living (ADL) which are bathing, dressing, toileting, continence, eating or transferring. 3. The ability to safely operate the chair and get in and out of it.

For a power chair or scooter, Medicare requires a written order from a face-to-face visit with your mother's doctor. He/she must identify the medical need for the chair and certify that your mother is able to operate it. If approved, Medicare Part B pays 80% of the approved cost. Your mother is responsible for the other 20%, unless she has a Medicare Supplement policy with this coverage.

While the majority of providers are legitimate, there are some who perpetuate scams and fraud. You can research suppliers yourself using the Internet. You can check www.medicare.gov/supplier or call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227)to find out if a supplier has been approved by Medicare. For additional information, go to http://www.medicare.gov/publications/pubs/pdf/11046.pdf.


Community Answers

Emk answered...

Okay -- no responses. How, then, about just giving your personal opinions/experiences with power chairs?

Thanks


Emily m. answered...

Hi EmK,

If you'd like to purchase a power chair, both Medicare and Medicaid will help you with the cost. If you'd like to learn more, please visit this Ask & Answer page: Will Medicaid pay for an electric wheelchair?.

I hope that helps!

Take care, Emily | Community Manager Caring.com


Emk answered...

I'm sorry -- I guess my question wasn't clear. I'm ALL TOO AWARE that Medicare will pay for my mom's chair -- I'm actually CONCERNED about how EASILY they will do that.

WHAT I WANT TO KNOW IS: what are the GOOD power chairs, and the ETHICAL power chair companies?


Barbara steinberg answered...

The link I provided, www.medicare.gov/supplier, will tell you which ones have been vetted by Medicare. Google "power chair reviews" and you will find lots of information and consumer feedback. If you google "power chair", you will find the major suppliers. That should give you plenty of information to help make a decision.


Emk answered...

Thanks -- I checked out the Medicare listings and document. Sorry I didn't catch those links on my first read!


Emk answered...

The question has now changed, a little. Turns out that the therapy department at my mom's assisted living home doesn't think she should have a chair -- she's not great at obeying "safety rules" (constantly self-transfers herself, against "orders", and falls frequently) and so I think they're worried she'll hurt herself or someone else with a power chair. PLUS, they say that Medicare will NOT cover a chair (despite what the power chair companies say) is someone can "self-ambulate," which she can, by using her feet in her manual wheelchair. Don't know if that's true, but they're aiming for her to NOT have one, I believe.

How do I deliver this news to her so that she is not mad at anyone for denying her this device? Any tips? I really think that we need to keep the safety issue out of it -- is the other Medicare requirement true? (Her primary doc already approved it for her!)

Thanks for any advice,

Em


Barbara steinberg answered...

Yes, it is true that if your mother can use a manual wheelchair, Medicare will not pay for a power one. You can ask the staff of the assisted living facility to help break the news to Mom. A social worker would know how to best position the answer.