If you’re over 65 and dealing with chronic pain, or you’re having trouble moving around your house as well you used to, a lift chair may help improve your quality of life. These chairs feature powered lifting mechanisms that push them up from their base and assist their users with achieving a standing position.

Medicare offers some help when it comes to paying for lift chairs, but it’s important to understand the ins and outs of the federal government’s policy before shopping for a chair or associated equipment. First off, you’ll need to be enrolled in Medicare Part B. Once that is done, you’ll need to select a chair or a chair provider. Here is where things get interesting. Medicare only covers the seat lift mechanism itself and not the entire chair. Medicare assigns every reimbursement-eligible product something that is called an “allowable amount.” This is the highest amount that Medicare will consider as the item’s total price. Medicare usually pays out 80% of the allowable amount, with the remaining 20% coming out of the pocket of the patient.

Typically, patients will be reimbursed for an amount between $250 and $300 for lift chairs, depending on their state of residence. Total lift chair costs generally start around $300. They can go well over $1000 for high end models. You’ll be paying the difference between Medicare’s reimbursement and the total chair cost out of your own pocket.

Because lift chair reimbursements fall under Medicare Part B, the patient must show a medical need for the chair. Patients must meet a fairly strict set of criteria, including severe arthritis of the hip or knee or severe neuromuscular disease. Patients must be completely incapable of standing up from any chair currently in their home. The federal government will not provide any financial assistance toward the purchase of a lift chair if a physician does not document the preceding conditions.

Additionally, a seat lift mechanism must be part of the physician’s prescribed treatment. Additionally, the physician must be participating in Medicare. If a lift chair is medically necessary, patients must be able to walk, either by themselves or with a cane/walker, once they have exited the chair. Medicare will not cover a lift chair if the patient already has a wheelchair, powered wheelchair, or scooter on file.

Along with your doctor, your lift chair dealer or provider must be enrolled in Medicare in order for you to receive any reimbursement. Some providers may refuse to accept Medicare assignments, so be sure to check with both your doctor and your provider to be sure that Medicare is accepted before you submit an order. To expedite the process, you should have your physician’s prescription for the lift chair or associated Medicare eligible equipment on hand when you order. You’ll also need to have a copy of your Medicare card and your date of birth handy.

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