A stair lift can be a great solution for people with mobility issues or who have trouble navigating stairs. If you are looking to purchase a stair lift for your home, you may wonder if Medicare or your health insurance will cover the cost.
Are stair lifts covered by Medicare? Unfortunately, no – Since stair lifts are not considered necessary medical equipment, Original Medicare does not cover the cost of stair lifts, even with a doctor’s orders. However, there are some Medicare Advantage plans that may cover stair lift costs. Also, depending on the state you live in, Medicaid may cover a portion of the cost.
Stair lifts can be expensive. A basic stair lift for an average single flight, straight staircase will usually cost from $3,000 to $4,000. Custom stair lifts for staircases with turns, landings or curves will start around $7,500 and will increase in price with complexity and length.
If you know where to look, there are plenty of programs that can offer financial assistance to help pay for stair lifts.
Here’a list with some helpful tips on places to look and programs to investigate if you need some financial assistance with your stair lift purchase.
Some Medicare Advantage plans may cover the cost of stair lifts. Medicare Advantage, also known as Part C, is a supplemental plan offered by a private company that contracts with Medicare and by law is required to provide the same benefits as Original Medicare. In addition to covering all of your Part A (Hospital Insurance) and Part B (Medical Insurance) coverage, many plans offer additional benefits that are not covered by Original Medicare such as prescription drugs, hearing, routine vision and dental, or health wellness programs. Some may even cover the costs of home modifications like wheelchair ramps, kitchen and bathroom remodels, and stair lifts.
- Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) plans
- Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) plans
- Private Fee-for-Service (PFFS) plans
- Special Needs Plans (SNPs)
- HMO Point-of-Service (HMOPOS) plans
- Medical Savings Account (MSA) Plans
Be sure to check with a qualified insurance agent to see which plans are available to you with the benefits you need.
Originally, Medicaid benefits were only available to seniors and the elderly living in nursing homes. Over time, lawmakers realized that it was less expensive to provide assistance to Medicaid recipients living at home instead of in a nursing home. Because of that realization, Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) programs were born. These programs, also known as Medicare Waivers, provide in-home benefits and support so that the elderly can remain at home and age in place.
Medicaid policies differ in every state. Many states offer Medicare Waivers that provide assistance for home modifications like wheelchair ramps, bathroom and kitchen remodels, and stair lifts. In an effort to limit the number of seniors moving into nursing homes, states will provide financial assistance to eligible, nursing home qualified patients who want to stay living at home. If installing a stair lift will keep a senior from moving into a nursing home, it is likely Medicaid will pay for the stair lift.
Unfortunately, waivers are not considered entitlements like nursing home Medicaid. Waivers may have limited participation and sometimes even a waiting list.
Veteran’s Administration (VA)
Veterans should start with the Veterans Administration (VA) if they are looking to purchase and install a stair lift. The Veteran’s Administration is more generous than Medicare when it comes to home modifications like stair lifts. They will pay for a veteran’s stair lift if the veteran sustained an injury during service that keeps them from being able to navigate stairs. A patient evaluation and a home visit is normally required before the VA will authorize the benefit.
For veteran’s and their spouses that struggle with stairs because of reasons unrelated to their military duty, there is the VA Aid and Attendance benefit. Veterans and survivors who are eligible for a VA pension may be eligible for an additional monetary payment to help pay for the aid and attendance of another person. Funding for stair lifts may qualify under this benefit.
Another VA program available to veterans is the Veteran Directed Care Program. This service is for veterans who need assistance with daily living and helps veterans that are at risk of being institutionalized to continue to live at home. If a veteran thinks that a stair lift will help them remain at home, it can be an allowable expense.
Depending on their disability, other programs that may help pay for a veteran’s stair lift are the SHA Grant and the SAH Grant programs. These programs are available to veterans who have lost a limb or have impaired vision due to a service related disability. They are deigned to help a veteran purchase, construct or modify and existing home to accommodate their disabilities.
Over half the states now have non-Medicaid programs aimed at helping seniors. These programs help elderly and disabled persons remain in their homes and usually cover home modifications like wheelchair ramps, kitchen and bathroom remodels and stair lifts. Eligibility requirements differ from state to state but generally require that the person be disabled or elderly, living at home or with a caregiver, and whose income is within the program’s limits.
You can google your state and “Non-Medicaid State Assistance Programs” for more information.
Some private health insurance or long-term health insurance plans may help cover the cost of purchasing and installing a stair lift. With a doctor’s orders or a written justification statement from a medical professional, insurance plans may help with stair lift costs.
Area Agencies on Aging (AAA)
Area Agencies on Aging (AAA) is a network of over 600 nonprofits addressing the needs and concerns of their local elderly population. They coordinate and offer services to help the elderly remain in their homes. Your local AAA may have programs or grants that you can apply for to install a stair lift in your home. Many charge on a sliding scale based on your income and need. You can use the Eldercare Locator to find the Area Agency on Aging near you.
Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM)
Homeowners 62 years old or older may qualify for a Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) to pay for their stair lift. A Home Equity Conversion Mortgage is a federally insured type of home reverse mortgage that allows seniors to convert the equity in their homes to cash. Money is lent against the amount of equity in the home. The amount lent to the homeowner accrues interest but is not required to be repaid until the home is sold or the borrower dies.
Crowdfunding is another potential way to raise the funds to cover the cost of a stair lift. It is a popular way to raise money for an individual or organization by collecting donations through the internet from many people like family, friends, strangers, businesses, and more. Some of the most popular crowdfunding websites are GoFundMe, Indiegogo, and Kickstarter. According to the Valuates.com website, the 2018 crowdfunding market was estimated to be over $10.2 billion USD worldwide.
Other Organizations and Foundations
Private foundations and nonprofit organizations may also be a source of funding for home modifications like stair lifts. Rebuilding Together, Live at Home and the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) are just a few of the organizations that may be able to help with the cost of stair lifts.
Rental Stair Lifts
If you need a stair lift for a short period of time during a surgical recovery or for a visiting relative, a rental stair lift may be a good choice. You may be able to find a short term rental stair lift, usually for only $200-$500 a month. Unfortunately, rentals are almost always limited to straight stair lifts.
Are stair lifts tax deductible? Yes, under certain conditions, a stair lift may be tax deductible. Durable medical equipment like stair lifts must be considered medically necessary for you, your spouse or a dependent in order to qualify as a tax deductible item. To be considered medically necessary, you will need a written recommendation from your doctor. The cost of operating and maintaining a stair lift may be deductible also.
How wide do stairs have to be for a stair lift? Most stair lifts are designed for a standard 36-inch stairway. However, some companies now manufacture stair lifts for stairways as narrow as 26 inches.