How to Pay for a Stair Lift

April 20, 2020

Mobility issues become increasingly prevalent as we age. If you have a multi-level home but prefer to age in place, a stairlift can make that a reality. If the cost makes obtaining a stairlift unreachable, here are a few helpful tips for locating financial assistance for stairlift costs.

stair lift cost

Source: Getty

Will Medicare Pay for a Stair Lift?

As is the case with most expensive equipment, a common question is, “Will Medicare cover or help with the cost?” In the case of a stairlift the answer is, it depends.

  • Original Medicare: Although various types of medical equipment are covered under Medicare Part B, Medicare considers a stairlift to be a medical device used for self-help, personal comfort, or convenience. This type of medical equipment is not considered medically necessary. As a result, Medicare does not cover it.

  • Some Medicare Advantage plans may cover the cost of a stairlift. Medicare Advantage plans are an additional way to receive Medicare coverage. Provided by Medicare-approved, private insurance companies, Medicare Advantage plans are required by law to offer the same coverage as original Medicare. And many plans offer additional benefits. There are several types of Medicare Advantage plans, which have different guidelines and benefits. It’s important to talk with a qualified insurance professional before you decide.

  • Medicare supplemental (Medigap) insurance does not cover stairlifts. Medicare supplement insurance is designed to assist with deductibles and copays for goods and services that are covered by original Medicare. And since original Medicare does not offer assistance with stairlifts, neither will providers of supplemental or Medigap insurance.

  • Medicaid may pay for a portion of the cost of a stairlift. Your Medicaid coverage will vary depending on the state where you reside. A licensed healthcare professional will be required to designate the stairlift as medically necessary for you due to health reasons.

The good news is you may be able to have the cost of a stairlift and the installation covered through the Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) program offered through Medicaid. HCBS provides opportunities for Medicaid members to receive health services in their own home rather than at an institution or another outside setting. If you apply and are approved, you will receive a waiver. An HCBS waiver is used to pay for a stairlift and the cost of lift installation.

Stair Lifts and Financial Assistance for Veterans

rebuilding together logo

Source: Rebuilding Together

The Veterans Administration provides funding for home modifications for former or current members of the military. Veterans who cannot climb stairs in their homes because of a service-related disability may have the cost of a stairlift paid for by the Veterans Administration. A patient evaluation and an in-home visit are required before payment authorization is granted. Also, the non-profit organization, Rebuilding Together, provides home modification assistance (materials and labor) to U.S. veterans through the Heroes at Home Program.

Stair Lifts and State Assistance Programs

Your state may have an assistance program in place that provides grants or loans to help you pay for a stairlift. As of mid-2017, 27 states offer assistance programs. The programs are designed to provide free home modifications so seniors and disabled individuals can continue to live in their homes.

Each state’s program has different eligibility requirements. In general, these requirements include:

  • The applicant must be elderly or disabled. In the U.S., ‘elderly’ is defined as a person aged 65 or older.

  • The applicant must be living at home, renting a home, or living in a caregiver’s residence. An individual is considered ineligible if they reside in assisted living or a nursing home.

  • The applicant’s income must fall within the program limits. Select programs also take into consideration the applicant’s full financial resources, including assets.

Examples of state programs you’ll see include:

  • The CHOICE program in Indiana provides a wide range of assistance for seniors and the disabled from personal care, to assistance with everyday chores, home modifications, and medical supply assistance. All CHOICE services are designed to help the beneficiary live independently or to assist caregivers in taking care of loved ones at home.

  • Illinois residents can look into assistance from the Illinois Home Accessibility Program (HAP), which provides grants to low-income seniors and disabled persons who are living in the state. The program’s goal is to allow an individual to stay at home by making their home safer and more accessible. In turn, the program helps prevent premature nursing home placement. A wide range of home modifications and repairs are available through the program.

  • If you are a Georgia resident, get in touch with the Home and Community-Based Services program. This program offers a variety of services to help residents age 60 and older live safely and independently in their own homes. The program’s services include home modification and repair. For more information, contact Georgia County’s Area Agency on Aging (AAA).

To discover what help is available in your state for making home modifications affordable for seniors, locate your local Area Agency on Aging (AAA) by visiting Eldercare.gov typing in your city and state, or zip code.