When you have mobility difficulty, and using the shower poses a challenge, having a shower chair can make it much easier to keep your independence and give you peace of mind knowing you’re able to shower safely on your own.
There are many different types of shower chairs: some offer full support, while others are just a small bench for extra help as you need it. No matter what your needs are, there is a shower chair for seniors that can help make the showering and bathing experience better for you.
If you’re receiving Medicare benefits, then you may be thinking that you may be able to use those benefits to help pay for a bariatric shower chair assistive device. Here’s what you need to know.
Medicare and Shower Chairs
Regular Medicare plans, in short, do not cover shower chairs.
Shower chairs would be considered under the Durable Medical Equipment, but they are not considered medically necessary. This category would typically cover items like crutches, walkers, commode chairs and so on. They believe that these items help lower or reduce the risk of falls.
Shower chairs do this same thing, however for most people they are not going to cover what they deem to be “comfort” items.
If you have Medicare Part C benefits, there are some benefits that give you over the counter coverage for items like shower chairs. So for most people, they will need to pay the full amount for a shower chair which can range from $20 all the way up to $300.
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If you have the Medicare Advantage plans, there are a number of medical supplies and safety equipment that these plans cover that regular Medicare plans do not give coverage for.
You will need to qualify for the Part C plan, and have these benefits. It is important to keep in mind that Part C plans are not blanket coverage and they still may only cover these pieces of equipment under certain circumstances and for certain conditions.
If you aren’t sure about what type of coverage you have, you can always call your benefit contact and confirm what you are covered for.
Is there any way to get Medicare coverage for bathroom safety devices?
If you absolutely need to get coverage to purchase safety devices – like shower chairs or grab bars – then you may be able to push for coverage on these items.
You will need to make sure you are going to a doctor that takes Medicare plans and that you are buying your equipment through a Medicare approved supplier. If you don’t do these two things, then there is zero chance you will get coverage for these items.
It’s important to know that you may be able to find the same equipment for a lower price online or at another store than by going through a Durable Medical Equipment supplier – which is the Medicare approved suppliers.
Do some research before committing to where you are going to buy this device. Your doctor may have made some recommendations, but that doesn’t mean you have to go through Medicare. You may be able find more budget friendly options, as long as they meet the standard requirements you need.
Will Medicare Cover Other Bathroom Modifications?
If you need a shower chair or bench, there’s a chance you will need other bathroom modifications (either now or in the future) to help make it easier for you to keep your independence.
Your doctor may recommend other bathroom modifications to make it safer for you – like grab bars or a walk-in shower tub.
Unfortunately, Medicare does not cover any of modifications to your home in terms of making it more accessible.
If you need a bathroom modification then you will, most likely, need to pay for the remodel out of your own pocket.
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Medicare does not cover items that they deem to be comfort items, and not medically necessary. Grab bars, even though they can help to prevent slip and falls in your bathroom, are considered a comfort item.
Aside from that, if you have Part C coverage – or Medicare Advantage – you may be able to get some help from these benefits when you need the help.
Having a grab bar installed can start around $75. This price assumes, though, that the studs in the wall are enough support to install the bar and everything else is ready to go. If you need additional support put into the wall for the grab bar then it could run upwards of $200.
Your doctor may have suggested that a walk-in shower or bathtub as it could be safer for you to use with a shower chair.
This kind of modification, though, can be a very serious renovation to your home and it can cost a lot of money to do this.
Medicare is most likely to deny your claim or request for this modification, but it doesn’t hurt to try. Make sure you keep all your receipts and keep track of all the modifications you’ve been doing to your home. You will also need to make sure you have a prescription for this and that a doctor is deeming it medically necessary for you to have.
Your doctor may list it as a quality of life issue or to help prevent major slips and falls. Either way, if there’s a chance for it to be covered by Medicare it will have to come from a doctor, and you need to prove it’s medically necessary.
What Types of Shower Chairs Are Available?
The kind of shower chair you need will largely depend on what your individual needs are for mobility.
All shower chairs or benches will be water proof – obviously because of their use – and they will be made from either plastic or metal, or a combination of both.
They also may have non-slip materials on the bottom so they don’t move as you’re getting into the shower, or they may need to be anchored into the wall.
Some shower chairs will have wheels on them to make them easier to move, but having wheels can also make those who are prone to slipping more likely to fall and injure themselves as the chair won’t be as stable.
If you get a chair with wheels it is really important you get one that has a locking ability, and that the wheels are locked when you need to get in and out of the shower.
Chairs with a back rest or arm rests can help those who need some extra help or increased stability with sitting or standing. Also, the back rest makes it a little more comfortable when someone is using it in the shower.
Your doctor will be able to tell you which type of shower chair is best for you, and what your needs are. If you need the added stability then it’s important to make sure you get the chair that has a back rest and arm rails to hang on to.
If you need the extra range of motion or added mobility then you may not need to have the back rest on the chair. Make sure you are honest with your doctor about your needs and what your comfort levels are. If you need a little more support, don’t be afraid to say that and if you want a certain type of chair make sure your doctor knows.
You may end up paying for some, or all of it, out of pocket. Most shower chairs will be under $300 to purchase, so chances are you can find something that fits your needs and may be within your budget.
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Even though Medicare does not pay for these kinds of modifications to your home, it could be money well invested to buy a shower chair.
Since a shower chair can really help to prevent slips and falls in the shower, it could also mean less major injury or worry for your loved ones. Consider also having a non slip shower shoes.. It can also allow you to keep your independence and not need assistance when showering.
If you have questions about which one is right for you, and if you would benefit from having a shower chair in your home then it may be time to book an appointment with your doctor to discuss your options.
There are a wide range of options when it comes to shower chairs so you will be able to find something in your price range and you probably don’t need to spend a huge amount of money you don’t have.
You may also be able to find a cheaper option from an online source, or one that is not a Medicare approved supplier too. If you need help with fitting and sizing, you may want to visit one of these stores and when you know exactly what you need you can order it from another source. Shopping around can help you save money when Medicare doesn’t help!