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does medicare cover wigs for alopecia

Does Medicare Cover Wigs For Alopecia?

Losing hair can be traumatic. When it happens due to a medical condition like cancer or alopecia, it can be even more so.  

For those with partial or total hair loss, wigs are a great option. But wigs can be pricey. If you’ve lost your hair due to alopecia and you have Medicare, you may be wondering “Does Medicare cover wigs for alopecia?”

In this article, we answer that question in clear, plain English. You will also find the average costs of wigs, as well as other helpful info.

Does Medicare Cover Wigs For Alopecia?

The short answer is, no, in most cases, Medicare will not cover wigs’ cost. That said, there may be some situations where you can get these costs covered. Below we’ll take a closer look at this to see when you might be able to get Medicare to pay for your wigs.

Original Medicare (Medicare Part A and Part B) generally does not provide coverage for wigs. This is because Medicare does not consider wigs to be medically necessary.

Medicare Part B covers certain prosthetics which are classified as Durable Medical Equipment (DME). But even though wigs are prosthetics, they are not known as cranial prosthetics which are not considered DME.

While Part B will not cover wigs, you may be able to get coverage under a Medicare Advantage plan (Medicare Part C). Different Part C plans offer different coverage options so you’ll want to talk with your plan provider to see if they cover wigs.

If they do offer coverage for wigs, you will likely need a prescription from your doctor. The prescription should note the wig is necessary due to alopecia or another medical condition.

How Much Do Wigs Cost?

The price of a wig can widely range from $50 to $3,000. However, higher prices tend to provide better quality. Quality synthetic wigs can cost between $200 to $400, and human hair wigs can cost from $700 to $2,000.

What Is Alopecia?

Alopecia areata is a condition that causes the hair to fall out in small patches. They may seem to be unnoticeable at first, but they can connect, which may turn the patches noticeable.

At its worst, it can lead to total hair loss or also known as alopecia Universalis. Alopecia Universalis can prevent the hair from growing ever again, or if it grows, the hair may fall again.

It does not only happen to the head hair. It can also occur on facial hair (including eyebrows and eyelashes) and other parts of the body.

Alopecia areata happens when the immune system attacks hair follicles, which will lead to hair loss. It is an autoimmune condition, and the immune system attacks hair follicles, mistaking it to be a foreign substance. The condition will most likely occur in people with a family history of autoimmune conditions. 

One way to treat alopecia areata is to rub medications that stimulate hair growth to your scalp. Some of these medications include Minoxidil (Rogaine), and Anthralin (Dritho-Scalp). However, there are also alternatives like oral medications, oils, natural medicine, and injections that treat hair loss.

Getting a wig is the fastest and surest way to get a full head of hair. And wig quality can be outstanding these days. You can find highly natural looking wigs for under $1000.

Note: Medicare coverage changes all the time. And your specific coverage may vary from plan to plan for Medicare Advantage and Medigap plans. Always be sure to double check with your health care provider and/or Medicare insurance provider about what your plan covers and what it does not.

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 braces?

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