"If you opt to purchase the chair, be sure that the supplier you use meets with Medicare's relatively new supplier requirements."
Lift chairs are considered durable medical equipment that's covered under Medicare's list of items covered as Durable Medical Equipment, Prosthetics, Orthotics and Supplies (DMEPOS).
But lift chairs are a special case because the entire cost of the chair isn't covered, while many other types of equipment are fully covered by the plan. There are also some restrictions on the type of lift chair you can purchase and where you may purchase it if you want Medicare to cover part of the cost.
Types of Lift Mechanisms
This isn't as much of as a concern with new chairs, but some older models aren't covered by Medicare because of the potentially dangerous lift mechanism inside them. Spring-lift chairs aren't covered and should be avoided, even if you're willing to foot the bill on your own. The danger comes in the unsteady and rapid lift caused by the spring. It's unlikely that you'd find this type of chair today in a reputable shop, but some stores might still carry them despite the warnings. To be eligible for Medicare reimbursement, a lift chair needs to have an electrical lifting system that's slow and steady.
Purchase and Reimbursement Requirements
Medicare will pay for some types of durable medical equipment and supplies so that you can be provided with the things you need. But in the case of lift chairs, most people purchase the chair first and then apply for reimbursement. The wait for approval for such a purchase can be a long one, and most people understandably prefer to get the equipment they need now rather than wait and struggle to get along without it.
If you opt to purchase the chair, be sure that the supplier you use meets with Medicare's relatively new supplier requirements. Their policies changed in October, 2009, to require that all DMEPOS suppliers be accredited and carry a surety bond. Many companies that have been Medicare suppliers for years already had these things in place, but other companies had to acquire the necessary bond and accreditation in order to become Medicare-approved. If you purchase something from a company that doesn't meet these eligibility requirements, you won't be reimbursed, even if the item is something that's medically necessary and that Medicare fully covers.
It's also important to realize that even if you purchase a lift chair from an eligible supplier, you won't be reimbursed for the full purchase price. Medicare will no longer reimburse the full price, but may reimburse you for the cost of the lifting mechanism, up to $300. Your doctor will have to fill out the necessary paperwork, including a Certificate of Medical Necessity, for you to apply for reimbursement for part of the cost of the chair.
Requirements for reimbursement include the presence of a condition like arthritis or other malady that can keep you from being able to get up from a sitting position. You also must be able to operate the chair on your own, and then be able to walk or get yourself around your home without another person's help. Your doctor will fill out a prescription and the Certificate of Medical Necessity, and you'll include this information as well as your purchase information and receipt when you apply for reimbursement for your lift chair.
Randy McIntire is a technical writer specializing in mobility devices for seniors and the disabled. To learn more about the different types of lift chairs covered by Medicare, please visit www.lift-chairs.com