Does Medicare pay for Stair lifts? Like many things in life, the answer isn’t as straightforward and simple as a “yes” or “no” answer. There are several nuances to this matter that we will need to dive a little deeper into, shedding some light on this topic.
Stairlifts can be expensive home modifications that Original Medicare does not cover.
Even though Medicare A&B does not cover any portion of the cost of stairlifts, programs like Medicare Advantage, Medicaid and the VA may.
Alternatives to stairlifts may include access ramps, hand, and grab rails, chairlifts, and motorized wheelchairs.
There are multiple programs that we are going to discuss and their roles in covering these devices, Original Medicare A&B Medicare Advantage, as well as Medicaid and the VA. With that, let us dig in.
Stair lift: what is it?
So, what are stair lifts, and how much do they cost? A stair lift has a chair for an individual to sit, that travels on a motorized rail system and can take someone up and down a flight of stairs with ease and safely. Stair lifts are not to be confused with “chairlifts” which is a recliner style chair that has a mechanical device that lifts the chair up and at an angle making standing up and sitting easier. Medicare will only pay for a portion of the lifting device which Medicare considers a durable medical device (DME) but nothing towards the cost of the actual chair.
What types of stair lifts are available?
There are four types of stair lift as you can see below:
|Seated stair lifts for curved staircases||User can sit during travel up staircase that has a bend.|
|Seated stair lifts for straight staircases||User can sit during travel up the staircase that is straight.|
|Standing stair lifts||User stands during travel up the staircase. Some hybrid models are available that allow both standing and sitting.|
|Outdoor stair lifts||Designed for outdoor use like front or rear entry into the home.|
There are also diverse types of seats that are available to choose from when deciding on which stair lift design is right for you or a loved one. They are as follows:
|Perch Seat||Allows the user to save space by partially standing.|
|Collapsible||Saves space by folding out of the way.|
|Angled||Can be angled for those with significant mobility issues.|
|Swivel Seat||The seat locks into place while moving up and down the stairs.|
Which design is right for you or a loved one? This is an especially important question, with many things to consider, and this conversation should be had with your physician to ensure all the things are considered.
Advantages and disadvantages of stair lifts at home
There are several advantages and disadvantages of stair lifts that an individual may need to consider which deciding if one is right for them.
Does Medicare cover the cost of a stair lift?
Original Medicare A&B does not cover the stair lift and an individual should expect to incur the entire expense. It should be noted that Medicare may pay for a portion of the lifting device attached to the chair which it considers a durable medical device (DME) but nothing towards the cost of the actual chair itself. Durable Medical Equipment (DME) cost share will fall under Medicare part B, so a $226 in 2023 deductible will need to be met and then a cost share of 80/20 will apply leaving the member responsible for 20% of any portion covered.
Will Medicare Advantage plans pay for a stair lift?
However, if you have a Medicare Advantage Plan it may cover a part of the cost due to a legislative change made in 2019. If the individual is considered “Dual Eligible,” having both Medicare & Medicaid, their state program may pay a portion or even all the expense. However, each state has different policies, so it is best for individuals to check through their local Home and Community-Based Service (HCBS) office to confirm eligibility and obtain a waiver. Individuals that have Medicare and are eligible for VA benefits may also be eligible to have part of the cost covered by VA Healthcare. A home visit and assessment by a medical professional will be conducted to decide if the Stair lift is medically necessary before approval. VA Grants are also available for home modifications for individuals with impaired vision or loss of a limb.
What is the price of stair lifts without insurance?
Typical price range for a stair lift as of 2023 is between $2,200 and $12,000 but can reach as high as $20,000, with the national average being close to $6,000. The staircase length, shape, and style of the stair lift play key roles in determining the cost mainly due to installation expenses. There are also unique designs, add-ons, and styles of seating that contribute to the overall expense.
Several popular brands can be found below with their average prices:
What other expenses are involved in getting a stair lift?
Not only are stair lifts expensive in and of themselves, and lacking in insurance coverage, there can be many additional costs associated. Installation of the stair lift can be quite costly. Walls or staircases may have to be altered in order to stall the stair lift as well as any custom features that the individual desires. Typically, the longer and more curved the staircase, the more expensive the installation costs due to the increased need for customization.
How to choose the right stair lift for your home?
Choosing the right stair lift for yourself or a loved one involves considering several facets. First, you want to evaluate the needs for such a device. This conversation should be considered with a medical professional as well as other members of the household and family as individual limitations are usually the main driver for such a need and will vary greatly. Once the need has been determined, cost will become a key factor as Original Medicare pays very little if any, and other sources like Medicare Advantage may only pay a fraction of the total cost, leaving the individual paying the majority of the costs. Lastly, the layout of the home may dictate what options are feasible or needed.
Alternatives to stair lifts
With the cost of a stair lift being extremely high, and limited ways to have the expense covered, it's beneficial to explore what alternative options are available to ensure safety.
- Hand and grab rails. These are an inexpensive and quick way to ensure some added safety in certain areas of the home.
- Access Ramps. Can create easy access in and out of the home if steps or stairs are present.
- Stair Climbers. Device that can be used with a seat or by carrying a wheelchair but requires someone to aid you.
- Home Lifts. It can be fitted in almost any area of the home and can be easily customizable but can be expensive.
- Moving the living area to the ground level floor. This removes the need for an individual to travel up and down the stairs.
Other mobility devices covered by Medicare
With Durable Medical Equipment being covered by Medicare there are some mobility devices that are covered. Motorized scooters, walkers, and wheelchairs all fall under DME and are covered. Keep in mind that to be covered under Medicare activities of daily living must be impaired and thus must be deemed medically necessary and written order by your physician in order to have the cost covered by Medicare. In addition to that, the supplier must be contracted with Medicare or the Medicare Advantage plan.
How much weight can a stairlift hold?
Stair lift typically holds 300 lbs with some up to 450 lbs. Customization can be an option but will dramatically increase the overall expense to the individual. This situation may render a stair lift an unrealistic option and thus moving the individual to a ground level living situation is the only option.
Is there a stair lift that can be used while standing?
Yes, when an individual is selecting the stair lift different options are available to choose from. As touched on previously, there are options that include hybrid models that can accommodate sitting and standing as well as models that only have standing only if sitting and standing is too difficult.
When do you need a stair lift?
When activities of daily living such as standing, sitting, walking and going up and down steps start to become challenging. Safety is the driving motivation for the need of a stair lift and thus this conversation should be had with a medical professional along with family members.