Many older people want to stay independent and safe in the bathroom.
They might consider walk-in tubs because they’re easy to get into and have features that help with health.
But they can be expensive. So, does Medicare pay for them?
Usually not. Medicare (Parts A and B) sees walk-in tubs as nice-to-have items, not things you need for your health.
So, unless there’s a special reason, Medicare probably won’t help cover the cost.
Veterans Benefits And Walk In Tubs
It’s hard to say for sure if the Department of Veterans Affairs will cover the cost of a walk-in tub and the expenses to set it up in your home.
It’s better to look into specific VA programs instead.
TRICARE for Life and CHAMPVA for Life are similar to Medicare Supplemental Insurance.
If TRICARE and CHAMPVA won’t cover it, their life versions likely won’t either.
But there’s good news: the VA has programs that can help with walk-in tubs or roll-in showers.
They offer three grants for disabled veterans for home modifications.
- Specially Adapted Housing (SAH) Grant
- Special Home Adaptation (SHA) Grant
- Home Improvements and Structural Alterations (HISA) Grant
The HISA Grant is best for older veterans who don’t need to prove their disability is military-related.
If aging is causing them to need a roll-in shower, they might qualify for this grant.
But it doesn’t cover walk-in tubs.
There’s also VD-HCBS, similar to Medicaid’s program.
Veterans get a set amount of money to spend on their care needs.
They can decide how to use it, including buying and installing a walk-in bathtub or shower.
You can use VA pensions for walk-in tubs.
They’re considered a medical expense, so the cost is deducted from your income.
This means you’ll get a higher pension to cover the tub’s cost.
Medicare’s Policy On Walk In Bathtubs
Original Medicare typically doesn’t cover walk-in bathtubs because they’re not classified as durable medical equipment.
This means they won’t pay for the tub or its installation.
In rare cases, Medicare may provide financial aid, but it usually comes as reimbursement after purchase.
To qualify, the tub must be deemed medically necessary with a diagnosed need and a written prescription specifying the necessity and any brand-specific features.
Even then, assistance isn’t guaranteed.
It’s best to see the tub as an out-of-pocket expense, submit a claim, and hope for reimbursement.
Prepare to cover the full cost, including installation, or seek other financial aid.
However, Medicare Advantage plans might offer different options, as they’re privately run but regulated by Medicare.
In 2018, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services expanded health-related supplemental benefits through Medicare Advantage plans, although the specifics may vary.
- Prevent, diagnose, or treat a disease or injury
- Makeup for physical injuries/weaknesses
- Better the functional and/or psychological effect of physical/health issues
- Assist in reducing the need for emergency care.
In April 2019, CMS announced that Medicare Advantage plans can now offer extra benefits not limited to health for those with chronic illnesses.
These benefits can be tailored to improve or maintain the individual’s health or function.
Some plans may cover expenses like walk-in tubs, but coverage varies by state and plan.
Medicaid’s Policy On Walk In Tubs
Medicare Advantage offers extra health benefits, but Medicaid is more likely to cover a walk-in tub.
Medicaid varies by state, with different rules.
For example, California’s Medicaid won’t cover a walk-in tub, but it used to have a program that might have helped.
Similarly, Colorado’s Medicaid could cover a walk-in tub if it’s needed for your health.
To find out if your state covers it, check your state’s Medicaid benefits for things like medical equipment or home modifications.
Other Financial Assistance For walk-in Tubs
There are different ways to pay for a walk-in tub, but not everyone can use them.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture offers a grant to old people with low incomes in rural areas.
This grant helps them make changes to their homes to keep living there as they get older.
You can use this grant to add a walk-in tub to your bathroom.
Some states help old people pay for home changes like walk-in tubs.
But only a few states do this now.
Sometimes, groups might help with the cost of installing a walk-in tub, but they usually don’t pay for the tub itself.
One example is Rebuilding Together.
Also, some companies that make walk-in tubs offer a way to pay in monthly installments instead of all at once. You might pay around $80 to $150 each month.
Tax Deductibility Of Walk In Tubs
You can deduct the cost of a walk-in tub for medical safety reasons.
This includes both the tub itself and the installation expenses.
If you’re taking care of an older parent at home and you install a walk-in tub, you can claim this expense under the Dependent Care Tax Credit.
Some states also offer similar credits.
Expenses Associated with Acquiring and Setting Up Walk-In Tubs
Basic walk-in tubs cost $2,000 to $5,000.
However, these may not be suitable for wheelchair users.
Wheelchair-friendly tubs are around $5,000 to $10,000.
Installation costs vary based on your bathroom’s layout.
Simple installations take 4-8 hours but could be more complex.
You’ll need to consider tilework, plumbing, and labor costs, which can range from $700 to $5,000.
Walk-in tub installation incurs extra costs.
See the table for related bathroom safety product cost ranges.
|Elevated toilet seats
|$35 – $170
|$25 – $50 per bar
|Anti-slip strips and mats
|$10 – $50
|$25 – $180
|Handheld Shower Head w/ anti-scald protection
|$40 – $100
Purchasing Used Walk In Tubs
You can buy a used walk-in tub, but it’s not common.
It’s tough to move and ship them without causing damage.
People usually don’t think the savings are worth the risk of getting a damaged or leaking tub.
Also, some worry about hygiene when buying used bathing equipment.
While walk-in tubs offer benefits for safety and independence, navigating the costs and coverage options requires careful consideration and exploration of available financial assistance avenues.
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