This article was reprinted with permission from NerdWallet.
Medicare Part B covers scooters and wheelchairs for people with disabilities. Your doctor must approve coverage and provide documentation to support it.
You must meet several conditions to be eligible for a wheelchair.
Only if you and your doctor are members of Medicare, your wheelchair or scooter will be covered.
If all these conditions are met, Medicare will cover the majority of the cost of your scooter or wheelchair.
A doctor will issue an order to determine if you need a wheelchair or scooter.
A medical condition makes it difficult to move around in your home.
It is impossible to perform daily activities such as bathing or getting out of bed with a cane.
You can safely use a scooter or wheelchair on your own or have someone to help you.
Your home layout will be able to accommodate a wheelchair.
Manual vs. powered wheelchair or scooter
A manual wheelchair is possible if you have enough upper body strength and a helper.
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You may be eligible for coverage for a scooter or power wheelchair if you are unable to use a manual wheelchair. You must undergo an in-person examination with your doctor to be eligible. The doctor will recommend a wheelchair or scooter to you if they feel that you need one.
How much do you pay for a scooter or wheelchair?
After you have paid your Part B deductible of $203 in 2021, 20% of the Medicare-approved mobility equipment amount is yours. The rest is paid by Medicare.
You might be able to pay less if you have Medicare Advantage. For more information about the costs and equipment suppliers that you can use, contact your plan.
Depending on what equipment you have, you might need to rent or buy it. Or, perhaps you can make a decision.
Some equipment require pre-approval
Certain models of power wheelchairs need prior authorization. This means that Medicare must approve the rental or purchase in advance. You should check with your equipment supplier to determine if you require prior authorization. If so, you will need to submit the necessary documents to Medicare.
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If Medicare believes that you don't need a wheelchair, or if more information is needed, Medicare might deny your authorization request. Your supplier should work with your doctor to revise your authorization request and resubmit it.
John Rossheim writes for NerdWallet. Email: USexpansion@nerdwallet.com.