Do you or a loved one struggle with several aspects of living at home? From going through doorways to climbing stairs, moving around your house may feel like more of a challenge than it should. Even everyday tasks, such as using the telephone or taking a shower, can be impacted by a lack of mobility. And while Medicare does cover medical devices and equipment for seniors or those with disabilities, you may find yourself asking if Medicare covers home modifications to help make it easier for you to live independently.
Key Takeaways for Medicare and Home Modifications
In this article, we’ll answer some key questions about what Medicare does and doesn’t cover related to home improvements:
- Will Medicare pay for bathroom modifications?
- Does Medicare cover wheelchair ramps?
- Does Medicare cover durable medical equipment (DME)?
Does Medicare pay for home modifications?
Unfortunately, Medicare does not typically pay for home modifications. Although your doctor may recommend making changes to your home, such as adding a wheelchair ramp, widening doorways or installing a new walk-in tub or shower with handrails, Medicare doesn’t usually count these items as durable medical equipment (DME) and therefore won’t pay for them.
There are some exceptions to this rule, though. Medical necessity must be shown for these exceptions, such as grab bars, which can often help with balance issues. In addition, lift mechanisms—not chair recliners themselves—might also be covered if considered a medical necessity.
In some cases, benefits available to those on Medicaid can sometimes help cover the costs of these types of modifications. It could be worth looking into the application process to see if you qualify. Additionally, many local and national nonprofit organizations help with instances such as this, so it could be worth looking into the support services in your community.
If You’re Looking for Home Modification Help:
Just because Medicare does not pay for most home modifications doesn’t mean that help isn’t available to you. Two major sources of information related to home modifications for seniors and the disabled include:
- The National Rehabilitation Information Center (NARIC)
National Rehabilitation Information Center
NARIC prides itself on providing “an abundance of disability- and rehabilitation-oriented information” for its users. As part of its mission, NARIC shares resources related to aging, independent living, assistive technology and caregiving. This rich resource can help you navigate living with a disability or limitations.
As one of the nation’s foremost advocacy groups for seniors and older adults, AARP shares information related to assistive technologies, lifestyle articles, and independent living. If you are an AARP member, you may be eligible for discounts from providers.
Examples of Home Modifications to Make Your Home More Accessible
Adding home modifications can be as involved—or as basic—as you’d like. Some of the mobility-enhancing additions you can make include adding a ramp or widening doorways for wheelchair users. Replacing a tub with a walk-in shower and a seat can help make bathing simple. Other environmental accessibility modifications can include:
- Lever-style handles for doors and cabinets
- Chair lifts or stair lifts
- Toilet modifications
- Medication dispensers
- Large button telephones
- Flashing doorbell signals
Medicaid may cover the cost of some of these modifications, but there are other, more flexible options that Medicare can help cover, such as durable medical equipment (DME), which can greatly enhance your life and mobility.
Does Medicare cover durable medical equipment?
Medicare does cover durable medical equipment that are deemed medically necessary. After you pay your Part B deductible, Medicare typically covers or reimburses 80% of the cost of these items. While it can pay to be proactive, it’s important to note that improvements may not qualify for coverage if they are preventive improvements.
Common pieces of DME that are covered when medically necessary include:
- Commode chairs/portable toilets
- CPAP devices and therapy
- Diabetes supplies and testing strips
- Hospital beds
- Ostomy supplies
- Patient lifts
An important consideration for reimbursement is to shop with durable medical equipment suppliers that take part in Medicare. If you have questions about what durable medical equipment is covered by Medicare—either Original Medicare or as part of your Medicare Advantage plan—we can help.
Understand Your Medicare Coverage with SelectQuote
If you’re currently looking at making modifications to your home to aid in mobility, knowing what is and isn’t covered can make a big difference on your finances. Finding answers to your questions about both Original Medicare and additional forms of Medicare coverage shouldn’t have to be complicated. At SelectQuote, we can help you understand your Medicare coverage options and navigate the process of finding affordable additional coverage.