Most seniors who are over 55 years old plan to live in their homes as they age. Reasons for wanting to “age in place” are varied. Most simply like their home, want to live near their families and friends, or hope to avoid the inconvenience of moving. For many people, aging in place isn’t a problem, but if you experience common mobility issues, your home may not be safe or convenient without making some modifications. Stair lifts are one of the options that may make your home more comfortable.
Stair lifts are made of motorized seats that attach to fixed tracks running up the inner stairway. They run on a motor that lifts the chair along the tracks up and down the staircase. Stair lifts are a practical solution for those who want to stay at home but don’t have the strength or balance to get up and down the stairs. But even though they’re convenient to have, stair lifts can be expensive to purchase and install, depending on the type and model.
If you’ve been thinking about installing a stair lift in your home, you might be interested in whether you can get help with these expenses from Medicare.
How does Medicare cover stair lifts?
Original Medicare Part B (medical insurance) covers certain medical devices and supplies under the category of durable medical equipment. For example, Medicare Part B would cover patient lifts for beneficiaries who meet qualification requirements. However, Medicare doesn’t consider stair lifts to be durable medical equipment and doesn’t cover them.
What’s the difference between a patient lift and stair lift? Patient lifts are devices that help a person with mobility issues move from a chair to the bed. Most patient lifts are devices that are transportable on their own, and they aren’t installed permanently. As defined by Medicare, “coverage is limited to items and services that are reasonable and necessary for the diagnosis or treatment of an illness or injury within the scope of a Medicare benefit category”.
If your health care provider (who accepts Medicare assignment) certifies that a patient lift is medically necessary, will be used only by you (the patient), and will be used in your home, Medicare may help cover it. You would have to get the equipment from a supplier that accepts Medicare assignment. Medicare doesn’t cover installation even if it covers the equipment.
Original Medicare Part B pays 80 percent of the final Medicare-approved cost to rent or purchase durable medical equipment if you qualify. You are responsible for the remaining 20 percent after meeting your annual Part B deductible.
On the other hand, stair lifts are devices that need to be installed (permanently) into a part of your home along the wall of your staircase. Because Original Medicare Part B doesn’t cover anything that can be categorized as home improvement, devices like most stair lifts aren’t covered.
How much do stair lifts cost without insurance coverage?
There are many types of stair lifts available, so your final cost depends on the model you choose and the complexity of your installation. On average, stair lifts cost between $2,000 and $5,000 including installation. For homes with curved staircases or more complicated installations, prices can go as high as $10,000. Some companies give you the option to rent a stair lift which can cost between $300.00 and $500.00 a month.