Will Medicare Pay for a Lift Chair?

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The mobility issues that come with age or illness can make the basic movements of standing up and sitting down difficult or almost impossible for some individuals.

Lift chairs can be a simple and safe solution for anyone with mobility issues that do not allow them to sit or stand with ease. Because many people value their independence and want to do as much as they can for as long as they can on their own, a lift chair may be one way to help.

Here’s what you need to know about lift chairs and whether Medicare covers these devices.

What Is a Lift Chair?

A lift chair is exactly what its name suggests: a chair that lifts. They look like normal chairs, with most being a recliner-style, but have a motorized lifting device under the cushion and are operated with a remote control. This gently lifts and tilts the chair forward, helping you stand or sit more comfortably and without assistance from another person.

Like any chair, you can find them in different styles, colors, price points and upholstery. While you may find these chairs at some regular furniture retailers, most likely there will be a larger selection if you go to a specialty medical device store. There are also many online options, but before deciding, you may want to try out the chair in person to make sure it has the firmness, recline and lift that you want.

There are three types of lift chairs:

  • Two-position. The two-position lift chair is the most basic option. This chair does not recline fully, only reclining up to a 45-degree angle. The chair and footrest are operated as one unit so the footrest will extend when the chair reclines and retracts when the chair moves upright.
  • Three-position. The three-position lift chair can recline almost fully. Like the two-position chair, the three-position chair has one motor so the footrest and chair operate as one unit.
  • Infinite position. The infinite position lift chair gives you the most options. These chairs typically have two motors allowing the chair and footrest to be operated independently, and they offer a full recline.

Average Lift Chair Costs

Lift chairs come in many price points from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars depending on what you choose.

Like any chair, factors – such as type, quality, cushioning, upholstery and additional features – will all affect the price.

When determining your requirements and budget for a lift chair, consider your specific mobility needs, preferred comfort level and any additional features you desire.

Once you have a clear idea of what you’re looking for, it’s essential to do some comparison shopping to find the best deal. This involves researching different brands, retailers and online sellers to compare prices, features and customer reviews.

Does Medicare Cover a Lift Chair?

Medicare covers the motorized lifting device, but not the chair itself, and only from approved providers. According to Medicare.gov, the reimbursement amount may be around $300, depending on what state you live in.

“It is important to note that if you want Medicare to help pay for the motorized lifting device, the chair must be purchased from a Medicare-participating durable medical equipment (DME) provider,” says Kelli Jo Greiner, a health care policy analyst with the Minnesota Board on Aging in St. Paul, Minnesota. “Be sure to verify this before buying, because if a supplier participates in Medicare they must accept assignment, which means they can only charge you for the coinsurance and deductible. Retailers who do not participate can charge you the full amount.”

You can find the list of Medicare-participating durable medical equipment providers here.

After your Medicare Part B annual deductible has been met, Medicare will pay 80% of the cost of the motorized lifting device. The remaining 20% and the cost of the chair itself is your responsibility. Since Medicare Advantage plans must cover what original Medicare does, you should get at least the same amount of coverage. Check with your Advantage plan however, as you may be entitled to additional benefits or there could be different cost sharing, coverage rules and suppliers.

“Approval from Medicare is necessary before you qualify for coverage. Your physician must assess your condition and provide a prescription indicating medical necessity. Subsequently, your doctor will then need to submit a Certificate of Medical Necessity for Seat Lift Mechanisms form in order to gain approval,” Greiner says.

Alternatives to Lift Chairs

When considering alternatives, think about what would best enhance your quality of life and maintain your independence. Discuss with your doctor to see what they think is the most suitable solution. Some ideas are:

  • Assistive devices. Walking aids, such as canes or walkers, can provide additional support and stability when standing up or sitting down.
  • Physical therapy and exercise. Engaging in regular physical therapy or strength training programs exercises can help improve muscle strength, balance and flexibility, making it easier to stand up and sit down without assistance.

Bottom Line

The mobility challenges associated with aging or illness can make simple movements like standing up and sitting down difficult, but lift chairs offer a solution to make it more comfortable and safe.

Medicare covers the motorized lifting device but not the chair itself, and it must be purchased from approved Medicare DME providers. Alternatives to lift chairs include assistive devices like canes and walkers, as well as engaging in physical therapy and exercise to improve strength and flexibility.

Consulting with a doctor can help determine the most suitable solution for maintaining independence and enhancing quality of life.

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