by Russell Noga | Updated December 14th, 2023
Are you considering installing a walk-in tub to enhance the safety and comfort of your bathroom?
With the ever-growing aging population and increasing numbers of individuals with mobility issues, walk-in tubs have become a popular solution.
However, the question of “does Medicare cover walk-in tubs” often arises. In this article, we’ll explore the ins and outs of Medicare’s stance on walk-in tubs, steps to seek Medicare reimbursement, financial assistance alternatives, and tips for choosing the right walk-in tub and supplier.
- Medicare does not cover walk-in tubs, although Medicare Advantage Plans may offer additional benefits.
- Obtain a doctor’s prescription to demonstrate medical necessity and gather supporting documents for potential reimbursement.
- Consider alternatives such as Medicaid programs, VA benefits, or tax deductions when seeking financial assistance for a walk-in tub.
Medicare’s Stance on Walk-in Tubs
Medicare, a federal health insurance program in the United States, provides coverage for a wide range of medical services and equipment. However, when it comes to walk-in tubs, Medicare generally does not cover the costs as they are not deemed to be medically necessary equipment.
In fact, many people wonder what Medicare covers, and it’s important to note that the installation of a walk-in tub requires substantial modifications to the home, which further complicates Medicare coverage eligibility.
But how do Medicare Advantage plans, which are offered by private insurance companies, fit into the picture? They can provide additional benefits not included in Original Medicare.
The specifics of both Original Medicare and Medicare Advantage plans will be detailed in subsequent subsections.
Original Medicare and Walk-in Tubs
Original Medicare, encompassing Medicare Parts A and B, does not offer coverage for walk-in tubs. This is because walk-in tubs do not meet the criteria for durable medical equipment (DME) classification under Original Medicare guidelines.
To be considered DME, the equipment must:
- Serve a medical purpose
- Be able to withstand repeated use
- Be suitable for use in the home
- Be considered medically necessary by a doctor or healthcare professional.
Although Original Medicare does not provide financial assistance for walk-in tubs, there may be certain conditions where it could be considered a necessary medical requirement, such as having a medical diagnosis and a written prescription indicating the necessity of a walk-in tub.
However, these cases are rare, and securing Original Medicare coverage for a walk-in tub remains difficult.
Medicare Advantage Plans and Walk-in Tubs
Medicare Advantage plans, on the other hand, may offer coverage for walk-in tubs as an added benefit, depending on the particular plan. These private health insurance plans are approved by Medicare and provide coverage for hospital, medical, and sometimes prescription drug costs.
It is advisable to contact the plan provider directly for information regarding any added benefits, such as coverage for walk-in tubs.
The definition of “health-related supplemental benefits” in the context of Medicare Advantage plans is open to interpretation, yet the service or item should be employed to enhance or sustain the health or general function of the beneficiary. Thus, it is crucial to consult with your specific Medicare Advantage provider to ascertain if they provide coverage for walk-in tubs.
Compare Rates in 2 Easy Steps
Enter Zip Code
Steps to Seek Medicare Reimbursement for a Walk-in Tub
Securing Medicare reimbursement for a walk-in tub can be a daunting task, but there are ways to enhance your chances. These include obtaining a doctor’s prescription, gathering pertinent documents, and opting for a Medicare-approved supplier.
This process may help you establish the medical necessity of a walk-in tub and possibly achieve reimbursement from Medicare.
To begin the process, complete the following steps:
- Fill out Medicare Form CMS-1490S, the Patient Request for Medical Payment form. This form is utilized to submit a claim for reimbursement to Medicare and requires personal information, details of the medical service or item, and the itemized bill and supporting documents.
- Gather all necessary supporting documents, such as medical receipts, invoices, and any other relevant paperwork.
- Make sure to include a detailed itemized bill that clearly outlines the services or items for which you are seeking Medicare pay reimbursement.
In the following subsections, we will discuss each step in more detail.
Obtain a Doctor’s Prescription
A doctor’s prescription is crucial in demonstrating the medical necessity of a walk-in tub. Medical conditions such as:
- mobility issues
- chronic pain
- balance problems
- muscle weakness
might require a prescription for a walk-in tub. The prescription should include a written statement outlining the necessity of the walk-in tub and the particular features required, along with a doctor’s letter of recommendation and tub model specification sheet.
To get a doctor’s prescription for a walk-in tub, schedule a visit with your doctor. During this appointment, discuss your medical needs and provide any relevant documents that could be required.
Research various types of walk-in tubs and consider the features that are most suitable for your needs.
Gather Supporting Documents
Supporting documents, such as a letter of recommendation, can help strengthen your Medicare reimbursement claim for a walk-in tub.
The letter should comprehensively describe why the walk-in bathtub is advantageous to your health and well-being. Include specifics regarding:
- Your health condition or mobility restrictions
- Corroborating medical records
- Your doctor’s professional outlook
- Your doctor’s contact details
Other necessary documents to support your claim may include:
- The tub model specification sheet
- Invoice and proof of payment
- Claim filing statement
- Any other relevant documents
Collecting and organizing these documents is crucial for a successful reimbursement claim.
Choose a Medicare-Approved Supplier
Selecting a Medicare-approved supplier is of paramount importance for potential reimbursement. A Medicare-approved supplier for walk-in tubs is one that is deemed medically necessary by a Medicare-approved physician and possesses a written prescription for the walk-in tub.
To ascertain if a supplier is Medicare-approved, utilize the official Medicare tool to locate suppliers of Durable Medical Equipment, which can be accessed on the Medicare website or by calling 1-800-Medicare for assistance. Choosing a Medicare-approved supplier increases the likelihood of securing reimbursement for your walk-in tub.
Financial Assistance Alternatives for Walk-in Tubs
If Medicare does not cover the cost of your walk-in tub, there are other financial assistance alternatives available, so you don’t have to pay for a walk-in tub entirely out of pocket. These alternatives include Medicaid programs, veterans benefits, and tax deductions.
Exploring these options can help you find the necessary financial assistance to make your walk-in tub a reality.
In the subsequent subsections, we’ll examine each financial assistance alternative in detail and how they can assist in covering the cost of a walk-in tub.
Medicaid Programs and Walk-in Tubs
Medicaid is a program funded by both the federal government and the state. It helps individuals and families who have limited incomes to pay for medical services.
It may provide financial assistance for walk-in tubs, but coverage is contingent upon the particular state and program. Medicaid Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) waivers are programs that pay for “specialized medical equipment” and “environmental accessibility modifications” when medically necessary to assist an individual in maintaining their residence in their home.
It is imperative to examine the advantages of your state’s Medicaid program to ascertain if they encompass walk-in tubs, as each state has distinct Medicaid HCBS waivers. Medicaid can be a valuable resource for those seeking financial assistance for walk-in tubs.
Veterans Benefits for Walk-in Tubs
Veterans benefits can also help cover the cost of walk-in tubs for eligible individuals. The VA offers financial benefits for walk-in tubs, but these are limited to the purchase and installation of basic tubs without jet features.
Veterans and their surviving spouses may be eligible for financial assistance through the VA Home Modification Grant or the HISA grant.
To be eligible for benefits for walk-in tubs, disabled veterans must possess or be in the process of possessing the designated home and possess a qualifying service-connected disability. The cost of a walk-in tub may be eligible for consideration as an unreimbursed medical expense for VA income calculating purposes.
Such expenses are often considered when assessing an individual’s overall financial situation.
Comparing Walk-in Tubs with Other Accessible Bathing Solutions
Walk-in tubs are not the only accessible bathing solution available. Roll-in showers are another option for individuals with mobility issues or disabilities.
By comparing the features, benefits, and costs of walk-in tubs and roll-in showers, you can make an informed decision about the best solution for your individual needs.
In the upcoming subsections, we’re going to explore roll-in showers and compare them with walk-in tubs, discussing the pros and cons of each.
Roll-in showers are designed to provide a barrier-free space for individuals with limited mobility, making it safer and more accessible than traditional bathtubs. The shower floor is typically level with the bathroom floor, allowing for easy entry and exit.
Roll-in showers can be customized with features such as grab bars, shower seats, and handheld showerheads to enhance safety and convenience.
In addition to being more affordable than walk-in tubs, roll-in showers provide easy access for wheelchair users. This makes them an attractive alternative for those who require an accessible bathing solution but cannot afford a walk-in tub or do not qualify for financial assistance.
Walk-in Tub vs. Roll-in Shower: Pros and Cons
Walk-in tubs, also known as walk in bathtubs, offer easier access, improved safety, and a more comfortable bathing experience compared to traditional tubs. However, they also have some drawbacks, such as longer drain time, higher cost, and limited suitability for individuals with certain physical limitations or mobility issues.
On the other hand, roll-in showers offer independence for individuals with disabilities, require minimal upkeep, and are suitable for wheelchair users.
When weighing the pros and cons of walk-in tubs and roll-in showers, consider factors like:
- Individual needs
Understanding the benefits and drawbacks of each option can help you make an informed decision about the best accessible bathing solution for your situation.
Tips for Choosing the Right Walk-in Tub and Supplier
Selecting an appropriate walk-in tub and supplier is key to a positive experience and possible Medicare reimbursement. Beyond evaluating the tub’s features, it’s important to pick a trustworthy supplier capable of delivering quality products and installation services.
In the subsequent subsections, we’ll share tips on how to evaluate walk-in tub features and select a reliable supplier.
Evaluating Walk-in Tub Features
When assessing walk-in tub features, consider the size, safety features, and therapeutic options to guarantee it fulfills individual requirements.
Walk-in tubs should be equipped with safety features such as ultra-low step-in height, easy-to-grip handrails, extra-wide entry door, accessible control panel, slip-resistant surfaces, water tight door seal, and low threshold for effortless entry and exit. Additionally, cover walk in tubs can provide extra protection and cleanliness.
Walk-in tubs offer a variety of therapeutic options, including:
- Hydrotherapy jets
- Whirlpool jets
- Air jets
- Ozone therapy
By considering these features and options, you can find the perfect walk-in tub that meets your needs and preferences.
Finding a Reputable Supplier
Researching and choosing a reputable supplier is crucial to ensure a quality product and potential Medicare reimbursement. When selecting a walk-in tub supplier, be aware of the following red flags:
- Lack of warranty
- Pressure tactics
- Installation complications
- Poor customer reviews
- Lack of transparency
To determine if a walk-in tub supplier is Medicare-approved, contact the supplier directly or consult Medicare or your Medicare Advantage plan to verify if the supplier is listed as an approved provider.
By choosing a reputable supplier, you can have peace of mind knowing that your walk-in tub meets US quality standards and that the installer/contractor is in good standing with the state license.
In conclusion, while Medicare typically does not cover walk-in tubs, there are steps you can take to increase your chances of reimbursement and alternative financial assistance options to explore.
By comparing walk-in tubs with other accessible bathing solutions, considering the features and therapeutic options, and choosing a reputable supplier, you can make an informed decision about the best accessible bathing solution for your individual needs.
With the right walk-in tub and supplier, you can enhance the safety, comfort, and accessibility of your bathroom and enjoy a better bathing experience.
Compare Plans & Rates Online
Enter Zip Code
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the real cost of a walk-in tub?
The cost of a walk-in tub can range from $3,000 to $30,000, depending on the features and installation. Most insurance plans do not cover this expense, though Medicare Parts B and C may offer some assistance.
Is a walk-in tub a medical deduction?
Yes, a walk-in tub installed in your own home may be tax deductible if a doctor verifies that it is medically necessary. The materials and the installation costs are tax deductible as a Medical and Dental Expense under the normal rules of medical expenses exceeding 7.5% of your adjusted gross income.
Will Medicare pay for a whirlpool tub?
Unfortunately, Medicare does not cover hot tubs or whirlpool tubs as they are not considered to be medically necessary. Original Medicare also excludes bathtub seats, shower chairs or bathtub lifts, but Medicare Advantage plans may provide coverage for these items.
Are there financial assistance alternatives for walk-in tubs?
Yes, there are financial assistance alternatives for walk-in tubs, such as Medicaid programs, veterans benefits, and tax deductions.
What are the main differences between walk-in tubs and roll-in showers?
Walk-in tubs provide a seated bathing experience and additional safety features, while roll-in showers offer immediate access without the need for filling and draining. Thus, the main difference between walk-in tubs and roll-in showers is that the former is designed for comfortable bathing, while the latter offers quick accessibility.
Find the Right Medicare Plan for You
Finding the right Medicare plan doesn’t have to be confusing. Whether it’s a Medigap plan, or you have questions about Medicare Advantage (Part C) or Medicare Part D, we can help.
Call us today at 1-888-891-0229 and one of our knowledgeable, licensed insurance agents will be happy to assist you!
Russell Noga is the CEO and Medicare editor of Medisupps.com. His 15 years of experience in the Medicare insurance market includes being a licensed Medicare insurance broker in all 50 states. He is frequently featured as a featured as a keynote Medicare event speaker, has authored hundreds of Medicare content pages, and hosts the very popular Medisupps.com Medicare Youtube channel. His expertise includes Medicare, Medigap insurance, Medicare Advantage plans, and Medicare Part D.