Between body changes and medications with tricky side effects, falls become a greater hazard as we age – especially on wet surfaces, like in the bathroom. Grab bars can help.
Unfortunately, falls are common among older adults, and the results of these falls can be devastating. According to the National Institute of Aging, 80% of these falls happen in the bathroom.
While having grab bars in the bathroom doesn’t guarantee that an older adult will be safe, they can reduce the risk of falling – by as much as 75.8%, according to a study published by the National Library of Medicine.
However, there are costs associated with buying and installing grab bars. You may be wondering, “Does Medicare cover grab bars?” Here’s what we discovered.
Medicare and durable medical equipment
Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance) covers durable medical equipment as long as a doctor says the equipment is medically necessary.
According to Medicare.gov, durable medical equipment covered by Medicare must also meet these criteria:
- Durable – or can withstand repeated use
- Used for a medical reason
- Typically only useful to someone who is sick or injured
- Used in the home
- Expected to last at least three years
Are grab bars medically necessary, and do they meet these criteria? Or are they convenience items?
Does Medicare cover grab bars for the bathroom?
No, Original Medicare does not cover grab bars for the bathroom. Currently, Medicare Part B does not cover bathroom safety equipment – except for commode chairs.
What durable medical equipment is covered by Original Medicare?
Medicare Part B does not cover grab bars. However, the Medicare program may cover the following durable medical equipment:
- Blood sugar meters and test strips
- Commode chairs
- CPAP machines
- Home infusion services, pumps, and supplies
- Hospital beds
- Oxygen equipment & accessories
- Patient lifts
- Traction equipment
- Wheelchairs & scooters
While there is more on the list of Medicare-covered DME, home modifications (including grab bars) aren’t on the list. Other items NOT covered by Medicare include transfer benches, raised toilet seats, shower chairs, ramps, stair lifts, or a walk-in tub.
How much does Medicare Part B pay for DME?
If your healthcare provider feels that a piece of durable healthcare equipment is a medical necessity – and Medicare pays for this piece of equipment – it’s important to purchase it from a DME supplier that accepts Medicare assignment. Otherwise, you may pay more out of pocket for your DME.
Whether you purchase the equipment from a Medicare DME supplier or not, you will be responsible for 20% of the Medicare-approved amount as well as your Part B deductible, which is currently $240 per year. Medicare Part B covers the rest of the Medicare-approved amount.
It’s worth noting that you may need to rent or buy the equipment to receive Medicare coverage. Sometimes, Medicare allows you to choose whether you rent or purchase the necessary DME.
Is there a Medicare plan that covers bathroom safety devices?
Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance) and Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance) do not cover grab bars or bathroom modifications. However, you may be able to enroll in a plan offered by a private health insurance provider that covers everything Original Medicare covers – and additional benefits.
To learn more about Medicare Advantage plans (Medicare Part C plans) that may cover bathroom equipment, call us toll-free at 888-992-0738 and one of our licensed agents will answer your questions and explain your options. Or, if you'd like to research Medicare plans a bit more first, just enter your zip code in our Find a Plan tool to compare costs and benefits of Part D, Advantage, and Medigap plans in your area.
- ClearMatch Medicare: Find a Medicare Plan
- National Library of Medicine: Grab Bar Use Influences Fall Hazard During Bathtub Exit
- Medicare.gov: Medicare Costs