Does Medicare cover wheelchairs and transport chairs?

A fellow caregiver asked...

Does Medicare cover wheelchairs, and other transportation equipment like transport chairs?

Expert Answer

Medicare Part B covers what is called durable medical equipment, which includes wheelchairs and walkers, if prescribed by a doctor. For wheelchairs, Medicare pays to rent the chair for up to 13 months. By that time, you will own the wheelchair outright, but Medicare will continue to pay for the chair's maintenance and repair. For Medicare to pay for the equipment, you have to get it from a supplier that participates in Medicare. You pay a coinsurance amount for the equipment. And if you haven't yet met the yearly Part B deductible of $135, you must do so. You can go on the Medicare web site to find participating medical equipment dealers near you. Or you can call Medicare toll-free at 1-800-633-4227.

Medicare also covers durable medical equipment that is provided as part of Medicare-covered home health care. In that case, you don't have to make the arrangements yourself -- the home care agency will provide you with the equipment. Although there is no coinsurance amount for the home health care itself, there is a copayment for equipment they provide.

Medicare does not cover equipment which modifies a car or van to accommodate a wheelchair. However, you may be able to find help with the cost of such equipment through a local agency, which you could get help locating by going to the free government-sponsored service called the Eldercare Locator, either at their web site or by calling them at 1-800-677-1116.