Will Medicare pay for handicap bathroom equipment?
My father has severe arthritis of the spine. He is to undergo back surgery soon. He is 72 and has Medicare. Right now he is having a hard time getting in the shower, will Medicare assist in this? Will Medicare pay for handicap bathroom equipment, such as a lift or shower chair, and the necessary bathroom renovations?
There are a number of different medical devices -- known as "durable medical equipment" -- that Medicare Part B can help pay for following your father's surgery. They can include a lift to help him get in and out of bed or a chair, a walker, a special commode, and a shower chair, to name just a few. For Medicare to cover it, an item must be prescribed by your father's doctor, and it must be supplied by a provider who is officially approved by and participates in Medicare. To find out more about Medicare coverage of durable medical equipment, read through Medicare's publication Medicare Coverage of Durable Medical Equipment and Other Devices. Be aware, however, that Medicare will not pay for any actual construction or reconstruction of the bathroom or any other permanent part of the house.
Another thing to consider is home health care through Medicare Part B, immediately following your father's surgery. If your father's doctor prescribes it, a Medicare home health care agency can regularly visit your father at home while he's recovering. In addition to helping with actual medical care, a home care agency can figure out what durable medical equipment might be useful for your father, it can arrange to have the equipment delivered, and a home care nurse or aide can show you and your father how to use the equipment.
I am a RN case manager at a Home Health company, and, at least in Texas, a shower chair is not covered by Medicare. Also, Home Health is covered under Part A, and the patient will get skilled care, such as physical and occupational therapy, perhaps a nurse to teach medications and wound care. While he is getting skilled services, he would qualify for an aide to assist with bathing. This is for a 60 day episode following surgery only. For questions such as this, it helps to refer to the Medicare website: www.Medicare.gov.
Easter Seals provides temporary loan of durable medical equipment, usually for 2 months free of charge. If the need is permanent, it is a good temporary option until one can be obtained otherwise. Also, look on CraigsList or your local equivalent. If he owns his own home and is considered low income, there may be nonprofit organizations in your area or even your local church if you have one, that would be willing to come install things like grab bars, changing out traditional door knobs to levers that are more arthritis-friendly, sink faucets, etc. One organization I personally used to volunteer with that would do this is Rebuilding Together. Check if they have an affiliate in your area.