Can Medicare Pay for a Wheelchair?

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Medicare, a federal health insurance program in the United States, consists of different parts that offer various types of coverage. When it comes to wheelchairs, the specific part of Medicare that typically provides coverage is Medicare Part B, which covers medically necessary durable medical equipment (DME). However, it’s important to note that not all wheelchairs may be covered by Medicare, and certain conditions must be met to qualify for coverage.

Types of Wheelchairs Covered by Medicare

Medicare generally covers two types of wheelchairs: manual wheelchairs and power-operated scooters/electric wheelchairs. Let’s explore the coverage criteria for each of these options:

Manual Wheelchairs

Medicare may cover manual wheelchairs if they are deemed medically necessary and meet specific requirements. Here are some key factors that determine Medicare coverage for manual wheelchairs:

  • The individual’s condition: Medicare considers the individual’s condition, such as the inability to walk or use regular wheelchairs, as a primary factor in determining coverage.
  • The intended use: Medicare evaluates whether the wheelchair is required for use within the home or if it is necessary for mobility outside the home.
  • The prognosis: Medicare also takes into account the expected duration of the need for a wheelchair. In general, the need for a manual wheelchair should be long-term (at least three years) to meet the coverage criteria.

Power-Operated Scooters/Electric Wheelchairs

Medicare may cover power-operated scooters or electric wheelchairs under certain conditions. Here are the key factors that determine Medicare coverage for these devices:

  • The individual’s condition: Medicare evaluates the individual’s mobility limitations and determines whether they are unable to operate a manual wheelchair.
  • The home environment: Medicare assesses whether the individual’s home has adequate space to accommodate a power-operated scooter or electric wheelchair and if it can be used safely indoors.
  • The individual’s ability to operate: Medicare considers the individual’s ability to safely operate a power-operated scooter or electric wheelchair independently or with assistance.
  • The prognosis: Similar to manual wheelchairs, Medicare evaluates the expected duration of the need for a power-operated scooter or electric wheelchair.

The Process of Obtaining a Medicare-Covered Wheelchair

To obtain a wheelchair covered by Medicare, several steps need to be followed. Here is an overview of the process:

  • Consultation with a healthcare professional: It is essential to consult with your healthcare professional, such as a doctor or physical therapist, who can assess your mobility needs and determine if a wheelchair is necessary.
  • Prescription and documentation: Your healthcare professional will provide you with a prescription and the necessary documentation supporting the medical necessity of a wheelchair.
  • Supplier selection: You need to choose a Medicare-approved supplier that provides DME, including wheelchairs. Ensure the supplier is enrolled in Medicare and accepts assignment, as this will help avoid unnecessary out-of-pocket expenses.
  • Submission of claim: The supplier will submit a claim to Medicare on your behalf. The claim will include the required documentation, such as the prescription and other relevant information.
  • Medicare coverage determination: Medicare will review the claim and make a coverage determination based on the provided documentation and the coverage criteria outlined earlier.
  • Co-payment and deductible: If your claim is approved, you may be responsible for a 20% co-payment of the Medicare-approved amount, as well as any applicable deductible.

Additional Considerations

While Medicare can provide coverage for wheelchairs, it’s important to be aware of certain additional considerations:

  • Medicare Advantage plans: If you are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan, coverage rules and requirements may vary. It’s recommended to review your plan’s documentation or contact your plan administrator for specific information regarding wheelchair coverage.
  • Coverage limitations: Medicare may have certain limitations on coverage, such as the types of wheelchairs covered, the duration of coverage, or specific documentation requirements. It’s crucial to stay informed and consult with your healthcare professional for personalized guidance.
  • Competitive Bidding Program: In some areas, Medicare implements the Competitive Bidding Program for DME, which may affect the availability of certain suppliers or impact the selection process. Familiarize yourself with the program and its implications if applicable to your location.


When it comes to obtaining a wheelchair covered by Medicare, it’s essential to understand the coverage criteria, follow the necessary steps, and work closely with healthcare professionals and Medicare-approved suppliers. By navigating this process effectively, individuals can gain access to the mobility assistance they need to maintain independence and improve their quality of life.

  • Medicare coverage for wheelchairs is primarily provided through Medicare Part B for medically necessary durable medical equipment (DME).
  • Manual wheelchairs and power-operated scooters/electric wheelchairs may be covered, but specific criteria must be met.
  • The process involves consultation with a healthcare professional, selection of a Medicare-approved supplier, claim submission, and coverage determination.
  • Consider additional factors such as Medicare Advantage plans, coverage limitations, and the Competitive Bidding Program.

Useful Resources:

  1. Official Medicare Website
  2. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS)
  3. – Durable Medical Equipment (DME) Coverage

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