Your doctor may recommend the occasional soak in a hot tub, but will Medicare pay for it?
Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance) covers durable medical equipment (DME) if your Medicare-enrolled healthcare provider deems it medically necessary. Does that list of covered DME include hot tubs? Let’s find out!
Are hot tubs good for you?
Before we dive into the topic of hot tubs and Medicare coverage, let’s take a moment to understand the benefits of hot tub therapy.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, hot tubs can help with the following:
- Reduce stress
- Improve mood
- Reduce chronic pain – including back pain
- Reduce muscle aches
- Improve sleep
However, if you have a cardiovascular medical condition, please talk with your doctor before beginning a hydrotherapy program.
Soaking in hot water widens your blood vessels, which lowers your blood pressure. So, if you have low blood pressure, it may not be a good idea to soak in a hot tub. In addition, sitting in a hot tub makes your heart beat faster, which can be dangerous for people with heart disease.
So, are hot tubs good for you? Yes, there are medical benefits for soaking in a hot tub. However, this doesn’t mean that Medicaid or your health insurance company will pay to have a hot tub installed in your home.
Will Medicare pay for a hot tub?
No, Original Medicare will not pay for hot tubs because they aren’t considered a medical necessity.
Medicare Part B does pay for durable medical equipment, such as wheelchairs, hospital beds, walkers, and commode chairs. However, hot tub coverage is not included on the list.
Medicare Advantage Plans must offer the same coverage as Original Medicare. However, these plans, offered by private insurance companies, often provide additional coverage. While it is doubtful that your Medicare Advantage Plan covers hot tubs, it’s worth checking.
Will Medicare pay for a walk-in tub?
A walk-in tub is specifically designed for those with limited mobility. Walk-in tubs are built with doors on the side, making them easier to access than a traditional step-in hot tub.
Even if you could benefit from warm water therapy as a part of your regular wellness program, Medicare will not pay for your walk-in tub.
However, some low-income Medicaid programs offer assistance for home modifications like walk-in tubs through Medicaid Home and Community-Based Services waivers. This financial assistance varies by state.
Are hot tubs or walk-in tubs tax deductible?
Refer to IRS Publication 502 regarding tax-deductible medical expenses. According to this document, “Medical expenses are the costs of diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease, and for the purpose of affecting any part or function of the body.” It includes equipment costs, but the program doesn’t cover “expenses that are merely beneficial to general health, such as vitamins or a vacation.”
With this said, some people get a doctor’s prescription for the equipment and deduct a percentage of the out-of-pocket cost of the hot tub or walk-in tub.
It’s worth noting that some states don’t charge sales tax on hot tubs, spas, or other qualifying appliances when prescribed for the purchaser by a physician.
Of course, seek the advice of your doctor and tax advisor before installing a hot tub or walk-in tub.