Not Covered Under Medicare Part B
Currently, Medicare does not authorize the purchase of ramps for a wheelchair, therefore, will not contribute toward the cost. Although Medicare Part B usually helps to cover the cost of durable medical equipment, adaptive daily living aids such as grab bars, shower chairs, vehicle lifts, and wheelchair ramps are not covered. Unless an item is considered to be a medical necessity, it does not qualify for Medicare reimbursement, in which case a supplier may not bill Medicare for the item.
Proving Medical Necessity
Medical equipment for which Medicare pays toward the cost must also be used inside the home. In order for a wheelchair ramp to be deemed medically necessary, a person would have to prove that it is really needed. Before Medicare pays its portion for any durable medical equipment, certain criteria must be met. The physician treating the person is required to write an order, specifically explaining why the equipment is needed, as well as document the reasons in the patient's medical record. A detailed description of the item must also be included. Reimbursement for the cost of a wheelchair ramp is usually denied because a ramp is not considered to be medically necessary for the treatment of an illness or injury.
Equipment Must be Used Inside the Home
While a wheelchair ramp may allow a person easier access to work or recreational activities outside of the home, under the rules of Medicare, a ramp is considered to be more of a convenience rather than a necessity. Medicare examines the potential therapeutic benefits that certain medical equipment might provide, and whether there might be less costly options. In many cases, other alternatives already available to the individual are considered to serve the same purpose, as would the medical equipment being requested. Basically, Medicare guidelines take a look at how the use of particular adaptive aids would improve a person's mobility and affect his or her activities of daily living in the home. Medicare also considers whether other people in the household who do not have a medical condition can use the item.
Other Funding Sources
When Medicare denies reimbursement for an item needed to improve the quality of a person's life, it becomes necessary to look into other funding agencies or government grants, which help to pay for these kinds of items. Many communities have volunteers who build wheelchair ramps for people with disabilities. College students, human service and government agencies, church groups, civic organizations, rehab centers, and Area Agency on Aging often have assistance programs, although most have eligibility requirements. You can also contact the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for more information about programs in your area. In addition, the Veterans Administration has a program available to assist qualified veterans, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development offers loans and grants to low-income homeowners, which can be used to make accessibility modifications to a home. County medical assistance programs are another good resource to help those eligible under these programs. State vocational rehabilitation programs provide assistance to qualified individuals who need accessibility modifications to maintain employment. Finally, there are private companies that sell wheelchair lifts and ramps that provide rebates to customers to help pay for the cost of installation, purchase or lease of the equipment.Tags: medical equipment, wheelchair ramp, accessibility modifications, assistance programs, daily living, durable medical