Are you or someone you love having trouble moving around their home or public places as you/they get older? If so, you’re probably considering a powered wheelchair or scooter. But these vehicles can be expensive. How expensive? Some models cost up to $3000. If you or your loved one is over aged 65, you may be able to get Medicare to pay for part of your scooter costs.

Financial help requires the scooter recipient to be enrolled in Medicare Part B, which covers scooters, power-operated vehicles, wheelchairs, and walkers under a subheading called durable medical equipment (DME). After the scooter recipient is enrolled in Medicare Part B, the next step is to obtain a written doctor’s order stating that the patient has a medical need for the scooter. The doctor will need to specify that the patient has limited or no mobility as well as a serious health condition that limits movement about the home. Scooter recipients must also be unable to perform basic activities like getting on or off of a piece of furniture without assistance.

Qualifications for coverage

In order to qualify, the scooter recipient must either be able to enter and exit the scooter in a safe manner by themselves or have someone available to assist them at all times. Additionally, the scooter must be of a make and model that is usable in the patient’s home. If it cannot fit through doorways or on handicap-accessible ramps, it won’t be covered. And finally, the doctor noting all of these qualifications and making the scooter recommendation must be enrolled in Medicare.

Once all of these conditions are met to Medicare’s satisfaction, the Part B plan will usually pay up to 80 % of the Medicare-approved amount after the Part B deductible has been paid by the scooter recipient. The “Medicare-approved” amount is the value that Medicare places on the scooter. This may not cover the entire cost of a scooter from a dealer, so be sure you understand all of the prices involved before committing to a particular model.

Many different models of scooter exist, so the patient’s doctor and any caregivers should be consulted in order to find the appropriate scooter to meet the patient’s needs. Patients typically need powered scooters when they lack the upper body strength to manipulate a manual wheelchair.

In order to ensure that Medicare pays the maximum amount toward the purchase of your scooter, meeting with your doctor face-to-face is usually necessary. Medicare typically does not pay for scooters that are only used outside of the patient’s home for travel or leisure purposes. It must be a device that is necessary for daily living. Unfortunately, there is high rate of attempted Medicare fraud involving scooters and powered wheelchairs. To help ensure your claim is accepted, you should obtain a list of scooter suppliers and avoid purchasing your scooter from a dealer that is not authorized by Medicare. In some cases, you may be able to save money by renting the scooter rather than buying it outright.

by Lindsay Malzone, Lindsay Malzone is the Medicare expert for She's been contributing to many well-known publications as an industry expert since 2017. Her passion is educating Medicare beneficiaries on all their supplemental Medicare options so they can make an informed decision on their healthcare coverage.