Are Walk-in Tubs Covered by Medicare?

Are Walk-in Tubs Covered by Medicare?


A walk-in tub with the door open.For many people, a walk-in tub is more than a luxury. It’s a necessity. By adding a bathing enclosure that can be accessed through a low-threshold door, a potential tripping hazard is eliminated, significantly improving safety and confidence for homeowners with declining mobility. If you’re thinking about having a walk-in tub installed, you may be wondering if insurance will offset the cost. After all, programs such as Medicare routinely pay for things like walkers, wheelchairs, and hospital beds. Our walk-in tubs also covered by Medicare? In most cases, the answer is no, but like all insurance-related questions, a more accurate answer is, “it’s complicated.”

Why Walk-in Tubs Are Usually Not Covered by Medicare

As mentioned above, items like canes, crutches, and walkers are covered by Medicare. These devices fall into the general category of durable medical equipment (DME), because they are used to manage a medical condition. The two main reasons why a walk-in tub is not in this category is that:

  • It’s usually considered discretionary.
  • It cannot be easily refurbished and potentially reused by another.

Are There Any Exceptions to These Rules?

Although walk-in tubs are not considered durable medical equipment, on rare occasions they can qualify for coverage. The first step is to have a doctor write you a prescription for the tub. A physician will only do this if there’s a real physical need for such a bathing enclosure. Hydrotherapy for a degrative condition such as osteoarthritis or multiple sclerosis would be a valid reason for writing a prescription, which has to be very specific in its explanation of why a walk-in tub is a medical necessity.

Once a prescription is obtained, you will need to be sure to purchase a tub through a supplier that’s enrolled in Medicare. If the company doesn’t have a Medicare number, you won’t qualify for reimbursement, even if you do have a prescription. That’s right, reimbursement. Medicare will not cover a walk-in tub at the time of purchase. The initial costs must be paid by you. If you meet the qualifying conditions, you will then be compensated, either fully or partially.

Other Options

In addition to Medicare, supplemental insurances such as Medicare Advantage (Part C) may cover some or all of a walk-in tub purchase. If you have such a plan, check with your insurance company to learn more. And if you’re a veteran, you may qualify for a grant from the Veterans Administration. Contact the Department of Veterans Affairs in your city to learn more.

Are you interested in having a walk-in tub installed at your home in the Upper Peninsula? Reach out to the Barrier Free Store. We’ll be happy to review all the options we offer.

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