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Wednesday August 10, 2022

Savvy Living

Savvy Senior

Does Medicare Cover Power Lift Chairs?

Due to the back pain and knee arthritis that I have been experiencing, I am interested in getting a power lift recliner for my living room that is easy for me to get in and out of. Does Medicare cover them?

Yes, Medicare does provide some coverage for lift chairs, provided your doctor prescribes it for a medical reason. However, Medicare will not cover the entire cost of the chair. Medicare will only pay for the motorized lifting mechanism, which is considered durable medical equipment (DME), and is covered under Part B. The other parts of the chair – the frame, cushioning, and upholstery – are not covered. Here are a few more details you should know.

What Is a Lift Chair?


For those who are not familiar with them, lift chairs, which look like traditional recliners, have motorized lift mechanisms that aid with standing up and sitting down for people with limited mobility. With the push of a button, a lift chair hoists a person from sitting to a position where they can comfortably stand up. It also works in reverse to help a person gently take a sitting position.

Medicare Coverage Requirements


If you are a Medicare beneficiary, to get coverage, you will need a prescription and a "Certificate of Medical Necessity" from your doctor that indicates your need for a lift chair. The conditions you will need to meet include:
  • Experiencing severe arthritis of the hip or knee, or a severe neuromuscular disease.
  • Inability to stand up on your own from a regular chair.
  • Once standing, you can walk independently or with the aid of a walker or cane.
  • You do not reside in a skilled nursing, hospice or nursing home facility.
You will also need to purchase your lift chair from an equipment supplier that is enrolled in Medicare. To find and compare Medicare approved suppliers in your area go to Medicare.gov/medical-equipment-suppliers, type in your Zip code and "Seat Lift Mechanisms" in the equipment box.

If you do qualify, Medicare will pay 80% of the approved cost of the chair's motorized lifting mechanism, after you have met your Part B annual deductible. You, or your Medigap supplemental policy (if you have one), will pay the remaining 20% of the lift mechanism. You will also pay 100% of the remaining cost of the chair.

You should also be aware that if you do buy your lift chair from a Medicare supplier, you will likely pay for the total cost of the chair upfront and can seek reimbursement from Medicare thereafter. Lift chairs can cost anywhere from $400 to $2,000 or more depending on the fabric, options and upgrades. The Medicare reimbursement is usually between $250 and $300 depending on the state you live in.

Advantage Coverage


If you happen to get your Medicare benefits through a private Medicare Advantage plan, they too provide lift chair coverage, but they may impose different rules and will likely require you to see an in-network supplier. You will need to contact your plan directly for details.

Other Helpful Options


If you find that Medicare will not cover your lift chair or if you are looking for something less expensive, there are assistive products you can add to your current furniture such as the Stander EZ Stand-N-Go (Stander.com, $140), which has adjustable support handles that can be used on any sofa or recliner to help with sitting down and standing up.

Another way to make your furniture more accessible is by increasing its height with "furniture risers." These typically range from two to five inches in height and are inserted under the legs of your furniture. Costs range from a few dollars up to $50 or more and can be purchased at retail stores or online.

Savvy Living is written by Jim Miller, a regular contributor to the NBC Today Show and author of "The Savvy Living" book. Any links in this article are offered as a service and there is no endorsement of any product. These articles are offered as a helpful and informative service to our friends and may not always reflect this organization's official position on some topics. Jim invites you to send your senior questions to: Savvy Living, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070.

Published March 25, 2022
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