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Wheelchair ramps become necessary once you have parents or relatives who suffer from an injury or any mobility condition and are required to use a wheelchair. Unfortunately, the construction of wheelchair ramps does not come cheap.
In this article we’ll look at the costs of wheelchair ramps, the styles and types of ramps and also answer the question “Does Medicare cover wheelchair ramps?”
And, as usual, we aim to do this in clear, plain English that’s written for everyone to understand.
Does Medicare Cover Wheelchair Ramps?
Generally, Medicare will not cover wheelchair ramps, even with a doctor’s prescription. This is because Medicare does not cover home modifications such as ramps, even if it improves wheelchair access. They do not consider wheelchair ramps as Durable Medical Equipment (DME), which is covered by Medicare Part B.
Wheelchair Ramp Costs
Based on national averages, building a wheelchair ramp costs an average of $1,600. The cost varies depending on things like the type of ramp, the slope, materials used, customizations, the size of the ramp and, of course, whether you do-it-yourself or hire someone to build it.
Things To Consider When Building A Wheelchair Ramp
First step is to know exactly where you are going to place the ramp. Two main considerations are width and length.
For length, this is largely determined by how long the stairs as well as how high they are. The basic rule of thumb is to build it using a 1:12 ratio for the slope. This means that there should be 12 inches of ramp for every 1 inch of height (vertically).
For length, look at how wide the wheelbase is of the wheelchair(s) and/or scooter(s) that will be using the ramp. The ramp should be wider than the wheelbase plus have a margin of safety on either side.
If the ramp is for a car or truck, the main thing to know is the width of the door. Depending on the ramp, you will need 30 inches or more for a door opening.
Wheelchair Ramp Styles
Threshold ramps are used to go over short vertical rises, like doorways with raised thresholds. The most common types of ramps are concrete ramps, rubber wedge ramps, and single fold ramps.
Portable ramps are mostly used to bridge a rise of stairs at home. Like what the name suggests, you can fold them and carry them along with you.
SUV and Van ramps are designed to help people in a wheelchair get in a large vehicle like, well, SUVs or vans. They typically have an extended top lip to help clear the rear bumper of the vehicle.
Modular ramps are ramps that are designed to be reconfigured. Having 12 inches of vertical rise makes a modular ramp a more appropriate solution.
Wheelchair Ramp Materials
Wood handicap ramps are the most affordable ramps and the easiest to build. If you or a loved one is even somewhat handy, you might be able to build a wood ramp yourself.
But keep in mind that wood is not the best option for durability, not only because it is the least sturdy but also because, once it gets wet a lot, it could rot. They can also get slippery.
Aluminum ramps are a great choice if you are looking for a hardy, portable wheelchair ramp. You can easily buy the pieces separately and piece them together. But the downsides are, they can be expensive.
Aluminum ramps are not the most durable, however, and can bend over time. They also require a textured finish for it not to be slippery.
Steel ramps are great for carrying weight. They are also less expensive than aluminum ramps. However, construction can be a little more complicated compared to aluminum. And ongoing maintenance usually will be required.
Concrete handicap ramps are for permanent custom use. It is the safest type of ramp as they are strong and rarely need repairs. But the installation of a concrete handicap is the most expensive as it will be permanently there.
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 walkers?