Rollators are similar to walkers. Both are used by the elderly for support while they are walking.
The difference, however, is that walkers only have handles and legs. This means they have to be lifted each time the user takes a step. Rollators, on the other hand, have wheels. So they do not have to be raised with each step.
Each have their advantages and disadvantages, so it is up to what the buyer prefers.
Rollators can be a bit pricey. So, if you want one, a common question is “does Medicare cover rollators?”
Does Medicare Cover Rollators?
Good news here! Yes, Medicare will cover rollators.
They are covered by Medicare Part B. Part B covers them because rollators are considered durable medical equipment (DME).
Just keep in mind, however, that in order for Medicare to cover them, they must be considered medically necessary by a doctor or other medical provider. If they are medically necessary, then Medicare will cover 80% of the costs of a rollator.
Also, Medicare only covers DME if your doctor/provider is enrolled in Medicare. So, before you make your purchase, check that the company you’re buying it from is an official Medicare provider/supplier.
Rollators are generally more expensive than standard walkers. You can find them costing anywhere from around $50 to over $500 for fancier models.
Rollators Vs. Walkers, What’s The Difference?
A walker is a good choice for people who cannot bear weight on one or both legs due to surgery or hip replacement but is mobile enough not to require a wheelchair.
On the other hand, a rollator is great for those who can walk but have problems with their balance. Rollators can conserve the user’s energy since they require no lifting. .
Things to Consider Before Buying a Rollator
Indoors or Outdoors?
Planning to use your rollator primarily indoors? Then look for one with non-skid wheels so you don’t ruin your flooring.
On the go out of the house a lot? Then consider a rollator with larger wheels (at least 6 inches). This will help you better navigate the dips and bumps of the great outdoors.
If you plan to use your rollator indoors a lot, make sure you get measurements before you buy one. You want to make sure the rollator will fit through your door frames (with a little room to spare).
Rollators typically have either 3 or 4 wheels. The ones with 4 wheels tend to be bigger and sturdier. This provides more support and stability.
3 wheel models are generally smaller. This makes them easier to maneuver and more likely to fit through doors.
Many, though not all, rollators come with adjustable handles. This gives you the ability to raise or lower the handles. Especially if you’re particularly short or tall, you definitely want to be able to do this.
Rollators will often have some storage, like a basket, that comes with it. You do have the option of buying additional storage accessories to give you even more storage. This can be helpful if you expect to have additional bags, equipment, etc. with you.
There are two main types of braking options on rollators.
One option is called push down brakes. This is when you have to push down on the frame of the rollator to engage the brakes.
The other option is called loop-lock brakes. For this type, you squeeze the handles of the rollator to stop it.
Both types of brakes work well. However, push down brakes do require a little more strength to use. So if you’re on the smaller side, you might want to stay away from them.
Note: Medicare coverage changes all the time. Always be sure to double check with your health care provider and/or Medicare insurance provider about what is and isn’t covered by your plan.
Additional Info on Medicare Coverage
This article is part of our series on “What does Medicare cover?”
Also, you can check out other articles in this series including: Does Medicare Cover Shoe Inserts?