From comfort and freedom to affordability and aesthetics, investing in a stairlift is not a decision to be made lightly. Not only should these mobility devices integrate into an existing structure effortlessly, they also come with financial implications that can be overwhelming at first.
To offset these costs, people with disabilities and their loved ones often search for alternative means of financing. The most obvious port of call is to explore federal health insurance options — such as Medicare — and what they offer in terms of stairlift cover.
In this blog post, we’ll answer the question that sits top-of-mind for those looking to install a stairlift:
“Does Medicare cover stairlifts?”
Medicare and its benefits
Medicare is a federal health insurance program for people who are 65 years or older, have certain disabilities, and suffer from permanent kidney failure that requires dialysis treatment or a transplant. The program is divided into three parts:
- Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance): Inpatient care in a hospital, skilled nursing facility care, nursing home care, and hospice care and home health care.
- Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance): Medically necessary services to diagnose or treat medical conditions and that meet accepted standards of medical practice. Health care to prevent illness — such as the flu — or detect illness before it has the chance to advance.
- Medicare Part D (Prescription Drug Coverage): Covers prescription drugs costs, including several of the recommended shots and vaccines.
Medicare offers two coverage options:
Original Medicare: This coverage includes Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance) and Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance). When services are rendered, enrollees must pay a deductible at the start of each year. It’s also likely that you’ll have to pay ‘coinsurance’, which is 20% of the cost of the Medicare-approved service. If drug coverage is required, you can add a separate drug plan.
Medicare Advantage: This plan pays for the majority of the costs — but not all — for covered health care services and supplies. To cover some of the remaining health care costs, a Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap) policy is required.
Does Medicare cover stairlifts?
For all intents and purposes, Original Medicare and its supplemental insurance policies do not offer coverage for stairlifts. However, Medicare Advantage may be able to offer financial assistance.
Paying for Senior Care reports that “an item that assists with a functional need due to an injury or health issue, or reduces probable need for emergency care, may fit the bill for an allowable supplemental health care benefit”. In their interpretation of Medicare Advantage’s 2019 ruling, the plan and its supplemental benefits could be tailored to the specific needs of a recipient who requires a stairlift.
Alternative funding options for stairlifts
A straight rail stairlift can cost between $2,200 to $5,000, while a curved variant can cost $9,500 and upwards. Looking at those numbers, it’s easy to see why so many people seek other avenues of financing. Luckily, there are a number of viable paths to take for stairlift financial assistance, such as:
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Housing Grants: Veterans and service members with certain service-connected disabilities can apply for a grant to purchase or change a property to suit their needs and live more independently. For more information, visit this page.
Home Equity Conversion Mortgage: The Federal Housing Administration's (FHA) reverse mortgage program enables homeowners who are 62 and older to withdraw some of the equity in their homes. Homeowners can choose how they want to withdraw funds, whether as a fixed monthly amount, a line of credit or a combination of both.
Stairlift rental: Purchasing a stairlift requires development and customization before installation can even begin. For this reason, renting a stairlift to try out a model without having to commit to a long-term device is a good option. That said, even renting a stairlift requires installation.
Related: For the crucial questions that need to be answered before you can commit to stairlift rental or purchase, we’ve created ‘Stairlift rental or purchase — which is right for you?’ to guide and advise your decision. Complementary to this resource, we explore the various tax benefits available to you in ‘Can tax benefits help you mitigate the costs of a stairlift?’.
Mobile stairlifts: These lightweight, portable devices offer more flexibility and freedom, on a variety of indoor and outdoor staircases. They do not require pre-installed tracks, so they can be deployed quickly, as and when needed, which eliminates the costly hassle of installation. Mobile stairlifts are:
- Perfect for homes and buildings with multiple levels.
- Ideal for disabled people who want greater flexibility and accessibility within their own home.
- Easier on a caregiver’s body during set-up, transport, and navigation.
- Is built to navigate any staircase, whether it’s spiral, curved, or straight.
The Mobile Stairlift and Affirm partnership
In the end, we want you to be able to finance the stairlift that’s best suited to your unique needs, and one that will give you the freedom and flexibility you require. To help you, we’ve compiled a comprehensive resource to guide and advise your decision. Read ‘How to Finance Your Stairlift In 2021’ here.