Original Medicare (Part A and Part B) does not cover the cost of installing a wheelchair ramp for personal use in your home. Although Medicare Part B does provide coverage for wheelchairs (prescribed by your physician), the necessary ramps for your home are not covered.
Medicare Coverage for DME
Medicare Part B defines durable medical equipment (DME) as equipment that can withstand repeated use and is used in your home for medical purposes.
In most cases, Medicare Part B covers durable medical equipment (DME), such as wheelchairs, scooters, walkers, and more. But they do not cover the ramps that allow you to move throughout your home and to enter/exit safely.
In some rare cases, Medicare Part B does reimburse people for wheelchair ramps. If a licensed physician (enrolled in Medicare) prescribes the ramp as being medically necessary, then you might be able to receive reimbursement from Medicare Part B. But this happens only rarely.
The problem with coverage for wheelchair ramps is that Medicare does not define them as necessary for direct medical care. Therefore, Medicare Part B does not include ramps in their list of DME.
Medicare Advantage and Medigap Plans: Coverage for Ramps?
To investigate reimbursement for a wheelchair ramp at your home, you may need to look into a plan that offers extra coverage. Some seniors buy Medicare Advantage plans (Part C) or Medicare Supplement (Medigap) plans (Part D). These are administered by private health insurance companies.
A Medicare Advantage plan offers extra services and coverage that are not available under Original Medicare (Part A and Part B). The private health insurance companies that offer these plans must be approved by Medicare. If you have a Medicare Advantage plan, you might look into potential coverage for a wheelchair ramp.
Many Medicare recipients choose to buy a Medicare Supplement (Medigap) plan (Part D) through a private health insurance company. As with Medicare Advantage, you can receive extra services and coverage through one of these plans. If you’re looking for reimbursement for installing a wheelchair ramp at home, you might investigate your Medicare Supplement (Medigap) coverage.
Will Medicaid Pay for Wheelchair Ramps?
Medicaid is similar to Medicare in that it usually does not cover reimbursement for having a wheelchair ramp installed at your home. But some states do provide this coverage. This is made possible by the Medicaid home and community-based services waivers (HCBS waivers).
Medicaid is administered by individual states, functioning within federal guidelines. Nearly all states offer HCBS waivers that provide long-term care services for qualified recipients. These services allow qualified seniors to stay in their homes rather than moving to institutions.
Veterans Administration Coverage for Wheelchair Ramps
If you’re a U.S. military veteran, you may receive VA funds for making modifications to your home that facilitate access and treatment for a disability. If you’re a service-connected Veteran/Servicemember, you can receive up to $6,800 for projects such as building ramps, lowering kitchen cabinets, or widening doors for independent living. If you’re a non-service-connected Veteran, you can receive up to $2,000.
Additionally, you may qualify for a VA grant to make modifications to your home for accessibility. With a VA grant, you might be able to cover the cost of having a wheelchair ramp built for your home.
What to Consider When Choosing a Wheelchair Ramp
If you are thinking of installing a residential wheelchair ramp for yourself or a family member, there are several factors to consider.
- Who is going to use the ramp? What is their general physical condition, size, strength, and weight?
- What type of mobility device will be used on the ramp? Scooter, walker, motorized, or non-motorized wheelchair?
- What is the angle or level of ascent that the ramp needs to cover?
- Will the ramp be situated outdoors in all weather, or will it be indoors or on a covered porch? If it’s outdoors, consider your climate (especially in winter).
- Be sure that the ramp surface is non-skid.
- Be sure the ramp is sturdy enough to support its user.
- Do you want the ramp to be permanent, temporary, or semi-permanent?
- Do you want a portable ramp that you can carry with you?
- Do you want a foldable ramp that fits into its own suitcase?
- What is your budget for buying the ramp?
Frequently Asked Questions
Does my Medicare Advantage Plan cover a wheelchair ramp?
Medicare Advantage plans (Part C) help Medicare beneficiaries to get the most out of their Medicare coverage. These plans are available from private health insurance companies, and seniors can shop for plans that best meet their needs. Some Medicare Advantage plans may provide reimbursement for a wheelchair ramp at your home, but coverage varies according to individual plans.
How can I get a free wheelchair ramp for a veteran?
Some volunteer service organizations focus on building projects and home modification projects (including wheelchair ramps) that benefit veterans. You might check out local chapters of these organizations in your area.
How can I get a free wheelchair ramp for a senior citizen?
If you’re a senior living on a limited income, you might need help to get a wheelchair ramp built for your home. Fortunately, there are volunteer organizations that will step in to help you out.
- Rebuilding Together
- United Way
- Habitat for Humanity
- Kiwanis International
- Lion’s Club
- Your Local Area Agency on Aging
- Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation
What are the best types of wheelchair ramps?
Sturdy, permanent wheelchair ramps may be constructed from pressure-treated lumber, open-mesh aluminum, solid aluminum, or open-mesh steel. Portable ramps are usually made of lightweight aluminum with textured or rubberized tread. Threshold ramps allow the user to get over the threshold of a doorway. Longer, modular ramps cover more terrain and allow users to ascend to porches or other elevated surfaces.
What are the most affordable types of wheelchair ramps?
Aluminum ramps tend to be less expensive than those made from other materials. Ramps made from rubber or solid foam are also less expensive compared to permanently installed ramps made from pressure-treated lumber. Of course, the size/length of each ramp influences its cost.