If you’re experiencing difficulties with mobility or balance, but you want to be able to take a bath by yourself safely, using a shower chair can help.
Shower chairs are specially designed seats made for use in bathtubs and showers. They are generally made from heavy-duty plastic with metal, rubber-capped legs that offer a stable, non-slip seat to support you while bathing.
There are many different types of shower chairs, from folding stools to sit on while showering, to special transfer benches that are ideal for people with very limited mobility. The type of chair you get depends on your disabilities and where you use it, but does Medicare cover the cost to purchase or rent a shower chair?
Does Original Medicare cover shower chairs?
Unfortunately, Original Medicare Part B (medical insurance) doesn’t include coverage for shower chairs in its durable medical equipment benefit category. The reason behind this is that shower chairs don’t fit Medicare’s definition of being medically necessary – equipment or services needed to diagnose or treat an illness, injury, condition, disease, or symptoms of the above.
Another possible reason that Medicare doesn’t cover shower chairs is because they don’t fulfil all the criteria to be classified as durable medical equipment. These criteria are:
- It must be durable enough to withstand repeated use
- It must be used for a medical reason
- It isn’t typically useful to someone who isn’t ill or injured
- It must be used in the home of the patient
- It has a lifetime of at least three years
It is possible that a shower chair isn’t considered to be durable enough to last over three years, and for this reason, Medicare doesn’t cover it as durable medical equipment.
While Original Medicare Part B doesn’t cover shower chairs, it does cover commode chairs under the durable medical equipment benefit. And depending on the type of commode chair and your shower situation, it could possibly be used as a shower chair.
Of course, safety should always be your number one concern for yourself or someone you are caring for, in the bath or shower. If you use a commode chair as a shower chair it should be sturdy and stationary. It should have rubber-tipped feet and shouldn’t be one that folds up. Also, remember that the frames of commode chairs can rust and break after prolonged contact with water.
To qualify for durable medical equipment coverage, you must have Original Medicare Part B or a Medicare Advantage (Part C) plan. Your health care provider must certify that the equipment is medically necessary and that only you will use it in your home. Also, to get coverage, the prescribing health care provider and the durable medical equipment supplier must both accept Medicare assignment.
Depending on the item, Medicare may require that you purchase it, rent it, or in some instances, you might have the option to do either.
Medicare Part B pays 80 percent of the final approved cost for renting or purchasing durable medical equipment. You are responsible for the remaining 20 percent after paying your annual Part B deductible.
How much does a shower chair cost without insurance coverage?
Most shower chairs have a maximum weight allowance of 300 pounds and are typically made of lightweight but sturdy aluminum and plastic.
The most basic type of chair is the folding stool style which features rubberized feet, handgrips, and a seat. They are lightweight and very easy to move into and out of the shower. However, not all models have a backrest, so if you need support while you’re bathing, you should find one with a backrest attached. Depending on the material and the design, these chairs can cost between $25.00 and $150.00.
The next step up is the standard shower chair which has rubberized feet, handgrips, back support, and a wide seat. Most standard chairs have a weight limit of 350 pounds. Again, depending on the type of material and the design, they run between $30.00 and $175.00.