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Does Medicare Cover Stair Lifts?

Stair lifts have become increasingly popular for seniors and others with mobility issues. They allow you to be more independent and stay in your home with stairs longer.

But stair lifts are not cheap. So a common question is “does Medicare cover stair lifts?”

We look at the answer to this question below. We’ll also look at the costs of stair lifts and some helpful info if you’re interested in buying one.

Does Medicare Cover Stair Lifts?

The short answer to this question is, unfortunately, no. Medicare typically will not cover the cost of stair lifts.

Medicare covers devices and equipment considered to be medically necessary. Stair lifts, however, are considered to be for convenience and personal comfort by Medicare.

Now there is one teeny tiny exception. If you buy a stair lift that has an elevating seat component, then Medicare could pay for a small portion of the cost. Because that one component can be considered medically necessary.

However, elevating seats tend to come on more expensive stair lift models. This means you will probably have to buy a more expensive model overall and won’t save any money, even with help from Medicare. In fact, it may end up costing you more.

Hope For Medicare Advantage Coverage?

All hope is not lost, though. There is a chance Medicare Advantage (MA) plans could provide some coverage for stair lifts.

These supplemental plans don’t only pay for medically necessary devices. They may also cover items that provide “a reasonable expectation of improving or maintaining the health and function” of the policy holder.

So some companies are interpreting this to mean MA will cover stair lifts. Only time will tell if that’s the case.

Stair Lift Costs

Stair lift costs depend on a number of factors. The main one is whether it’s being installed on a straight stairway or one that curves or turns corners.

For a straight stair lift that’s less than 15 feet long, expect the cost to be between $2,200 and $5,000.  This includes installation costs.

For longer and/or curved stair lifts, prices start around $9,500 and go up to $15,000 or so.

If you opt for extra features like upgraded seats or other custom options, the costs can go higher.

What to Look For in a Stair Lift

There are a few key things to consider before getting a stair lift.

Budget is a big one. Obviously buying a brand new stair lift is the most expensive option. However, refurbished models are available which will cut down on costs. Also, you can opt to rent a stair lift instead of buying one.

Safety features are also an important consideration. Having easy to use seatbelts is important. Also, many stair lift models have sensors that detect any obstructions that may get in the way.

Keylocks are another safety option to consider. This is a key that is needed in order to operate the stair lift. If you have young children around the house often, this is a good option to have.

A good battery backup on the stair lift is another feature to look for. Especially if you live in an area prone to power outages.  

Also consider the type of seat. You’ll have different options when it comes to styles and materials. Besides that, look for foldable seats, foot and arm rests. This helps keep the stair lift out of the way when not in use.

A 90 degree swivel seat is another great feature to have. This keeps you from having to bend and twist when getting off of the stair lift.

Note: Medicare coverage changes all the time. And your specific coverage may impact what gets covered and what doesn’t. 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 Wheelchair Ramps?

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