A question that always comes up in every stair lift conversation is, “Does Medicare pay for stairlifts?” Unfortunately, the short answer is no, Medicare does not cover anything installed into a home.
Why Doesn’t Medicare Pay for Stairlifts?
The long answer to that question is somewhat more involved though equally definitive. Essentially, Medicare doesn’t cover anything that attaches to your house, including a stairlift. Medicare may cover the cost of a wheelchair or scooter, but they will not cover the cost of a ramp to get it in and out of the house. Medicare may cover the cost of a hospital bed, but they won’t cover the cost of a grab bar installed in the shower or toileting area. Essentially, if it attaches to the house then Medicare considers it a home improvement. And consequently, because Medicare does not pay for a stair lift neither does Medicare supplemental insurance. A Medicare supplement follows the Medicare mandate and definitions.
Medicare only covers “durable medical equipment” (DME), which is a category that includes equipment like the aforementioned wheelchair, scooter, a hospital bed and even a patient lift, which is often mistaken for a stairlift. A patient lift is different from a stairlift and you can learn what Medicare considers a patient lift here.
Finding Other Funding Sources for Stairlifts
Though not funded by Medicare, stairlifts can often be funded by other public funding entities (see our Funding Sources resource) including the Veteran Administration (VA), Medicaid, Long Term Care Insurance, and some grant program. Both of these programs require an evaluation of the participant, either by a VA doctor or an occupational therapist assigned by a Medicaid case manager. There can be many steps to this process with either organization so if someone is going to pursue this type of funding, it is better to start the process well before the need becomes urgent.
Why Stairlifts are Worth the Investment
The good news is that even though Medicare does not pay for stairlifts, they can be relatively inexpensive. The return on the investment is well worth it when considering the lifestyle and mobility benefits stairlifts provide. When compared to the cost associated with hospitalization after a fall or having to sell a house and move, a stair lift can be downright inexpensive indeed. Every week, we happily surprise home owners when they find out how affordable a stair lift is. We will help you discover the best model for you and your home, and we do help with advocating for funding when it is available.