While transport chairs are similar to wheelchairs, you might find that a transport chair works better for you in some instances. Transport chairs are more lightweight, have a narrower frame, and aren’t self-propelled. They have four small wheels rather than two large wheels.
If you need a short-term solution, or you use a wheelchair at home, you might also need a transport chair when you go to doctor’s appointments, for daily outings, during or after a hospital or skilled nursing facility stay, or during recovery from illness or surgery. Because a transport chair is designed to be pushed by a caregiver, you won’t be able to use it for self-care.
If your health care provider suggests that you get one for medically necessary reasons, you might be eligible for Medicare coverage.
Does Medicare cover transport chairs?
Transport chairs and similar types of equipment are covered by Original Medicare Part B (medical insurance) under the durable medical equipment (DME) benefit. Medicare beneficiaries who are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage (Part C) plan, also have access to these benefits if they qualify for coverage.
Medicare considers DME to be equipment that is:
- Able to withstand repeated use
- Only used for medical reasons
- Only useful for the beneficiary who’s ill or injured
- Used in the beneficiary’s home
- Able to last for at least three years
To be eligible for coverage of a transport chair as DME, your Medicare-affiliated health care provider must provide a written prescription and certify that it’s medically necessary for you to use at home for your personal needs. To get this prescription, you must first meet face-to-face with the prescribing health care provider.
Original Medicare Part B pays for 80 percent of the final approved cost of renting or purchasing a transport chair if you get it from a medical supplier who accepts Medicare assignment. You pay the remaining 20 percent after paying your annual Part B deductible.
Depending on the type of durable medical equipment, Medicare may require that you rent it, or purchase it, or it may give you the option to do either. The Medicare Part B DME benefit also covers a replacement transport chair or repairs to your existing chair if necessary during your contract with the medical supplier.
If you’re enrolled for coverage through a Medicare Advantage (MA) plan, your provider will cover your transport chair if you’re eligible for the DME benefit. However, depending on the type of MA plan you have, you may be required to use health care providers and medical suppliers that your plan includes on its list of in-network providers. In some instances, if you get care or equipment from providers outside the network, you won’t get coverage. If you aren’t sure which providers are approved, you should contact your provider for details.
Your out-of-pocket costs to rent or purchase a transport chair with Part C coverage depend on how much your plan charges for coinsurance.
How much does a transport chair cost without Medicare coverage?
Because there are many different brands and styles of transport chairs available on the market, prices can vary widely. You can find transport chairs for as little as $75, but most range between $100 and $300.