If you or someone you’re taking care of have mobility or health issues, you might be searching for a safer way to take a bath. Getting in and out of a slippery bathtub can be dangerous, awkward, and even impossible for many seniors. Using a walk-in tub can make bath time easier and safer.
Walk-in tubs are taller than conventional bathtubs because they have a door with a low threshold that you can step in and out of easily. Most walk-in tubs have special features like built-in benches, grab bars, and anti-slip surfaces, and some have turbo-flushing mechanisms, water jets, and water heaters. Water pressure keeps the water from leaking out through the walk-in tub’s door, but you need to be inside before filling it with water, and you must drain it before getting out.
Replacing your traditional tub with a walk-in tub might be a good idea if you need a safer bathing environment. However, it might be an expensive solution when you consider that the cost of the tub and installation can run into thousands of dollars, and your Medicare benefits might not help you cover the expenses.
Does Medicare cover walk-in tubs?
You might be wondering if the durable medical equipment benefit through Original Medicare Part B includes coverage of walk-in tubs. While Part B does cover different types of reusable equipment for use at home, it doesn’t cover walk-in tubs. This is because they have special installation requirements that make them home improvement items.
Even though Medicare doesn’t cover walk-in tubs because they aren’t considered to be medically necessary, you might be eligible for reimbursement through your Medicare insurance, depending on your situation.
As a beneficiary of Original Medicare Part B, to get reimbursed for your walk-in tub, you should do the following:
- Have your Medicare-affiliated physician write a prescription for it. He must use specific language that describes, in detail, your diagnosed medical condition and ways in which a walk-in tub would help your condition improve.
- Purchase your walk-in tub from a medical supplier who accepts Medicare assignment.
- Submit your claim to Medicare.
If your claim is approved, Medicare Part B would cover 80 percent of the approved amount for the walk-in tub, but not for installation charges. You would be responsible for paying 20 percent after meeting your annual Part B deductible.
If you are enrolled in a Part C Medicare Advantage (MA)plan, your provider may offer additional coverage or extra benefits beyond those that Original Medicare Parts A and B cover. Depending on your MA plan, you may have coverage for a walk-in tub, or you may be eligible for reimbursement. If you aren’t certain about this benefit, you should contact your provider for details before making any purchases.
How much does a walk-in tub cost without Medicare coverage?
Prices for walk-in tubs range between $2000 and $5000 for a basic tub with standard safety features, and between $5000 and $12000 for a walk-in tub with custom features like wheelchair accessibility or whirlpool jets. In most cases, installation is an extra charge which can run between $700 and $1500, depending on the complexity of the work necessary.