How to Get Help Paying for a Walk-In Tub
Each year, 25% of seniors fall—with 80% of those falls happening in the bathroom. Walk-in tubs can dramatically reduce the chances of falling, but paying for a walk-in tub can put a real strain on your fixed budget in retirement.
So is there financial assistance for walk-in tubs, especially through Medicare? We’ll explore how to get help paying for a walk-in tub below.
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How Much Does a Walk-In Tub Cost?
Walk-in tubs cost anywhere from $2,000 to $25,000, depending on the size and features of the model. For most tubs, prices fall between $5,000 and $10,000.
You’ll also need to budget for installation. Installation for more complex tubs or that require larger bathroom remodels can cost as much as $3,000, but a simple installation can go as low as $700.
Does Medicare Cover a Walk-In Tub?
In nearly every scenario, Medicare won’t cover the cost of a walk-in tub because the program does not classify these soakers as durable medical equipment (DME).
But there’s an exception to every rule. In rare instances, Medicare may reimburse the cost of the tub (you’ll still have to dig into your own pockets to cover the cost upfront).
Getting this reimbursement isn’t easy: You’ll have to prove to Medicare that a walk-in tub is a “medical necessity.” That means you’ll need to provide proof of a medical diagnosis that requires the tub. Ask your doctor for a prescription and an official letter detailing why you absolutely need a walk-in tub.
There’s still no guarantee that Medicare will cover the cost. If you can’t get Medicare to sign off on the reimbursement, try to get financial assistance elsewhere, like through Medicaid.
Does Medicaid Cover a Walk-In Tub?
Medicare may not (usually) cover the cost, but whether or not you can get financial assistance for walk-in tubs through Medicaid depends on your state.
Each state has multiple Medicaid programs, and the guidelines for each vary. You’ll need to do some digging to see if your Medicaid program will help you pay for a walk-in tub.
Financial assistance through Medicaid may not cover the total cost, but you might get some level of help with installation and the cost of the tub itself. Explore your state’s Medicare waiver program, which lists grants you might be able to use to supplement the costs associated with aging in place. (More on this below.)
Paying for a walk-in tub is a little easier if you’re a veteran thanks to the range of benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs. Veterans can take several routes to get help paying for a walk-in tub, including:
- Veteran Directed Care (VDC): This program—previously called Veteran-Directed Home and Community Based Services—is designed for veterans who need help with daily activities, including bathing. Veterans or their representatives have access to a flexible spending account (FSA), which they can use at their discretion to cover their needs. That could include a walk-in tub.
- Service grants: Veterans can apply for the Special Home Adaptation (SHA) grant or the Specially Adapted Housing (SAH) grant to cover the cost of a walk-in tub. The government awards a finite number of grants each year, and they’re reserved for veterans who have disabilities as a result of their service.
- Home modification grants: Veterans can also apply for home modification grants, such as the Home Improvements and Structural Alterations (HISA) grant. This grant won’t cover a spa, hot tub, or Jacuzzi, but it can be used for roll-in showers. (There are other uses as well, including accessible kitchen counters and entry/exit ramps from the home.) Veterans who do not have a disability from their service can get $2,000; those who have a service-connected disability can get up to $6,800 for home modifications.
- Additional benefits: Veterans can increase their monthly pension payments by applying for VA Aid and Attendance or Household benefits. You can use these additional funds if you need help with daily activities, such as bathing.
Financial Assistance for Walk-In Tubs
Even if you don’t qualify for help through Medicare or Medicaid and aren’t a veteran, there are other ways to get help paying for a walk-in tub. Here are some other options for securing financial assistance:
Medicaid isn’t your only option for financial assistance at the state level. Research other programs in your state that might help you cover the cost of a walk-in tub.
For instance, seniors in Nevada may get help through the Assistive Technology for Independent Living Program. Indianans can try to get help via the CHOICE program. In Minnesota, older adults can get assistance via the Community Access for Disability Inclusion Waiver. The Illinois Home Accessibility Program helps residents of that state make their homes more accessible.
Home Modification Loans
Veterans aren’t the only ones who can qualify for home modification loans. For instance, seniors can apply for the USDA Rural Repair and Rehabilitation grant (Section 504 Home Repair) to get up to $7,500 for home alterations, such as walk-in tubs.
The Housing Improvement Program is available to American Indians and Alaska natives through the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Other programs at the state and local level may also be available.
Several non-profit organizations offer help to seniors who need help making their homes more accessible, including Habitat for Humanity, which has an Aging in Place program.
Another non-profit, Rebuilding Together, has a program called Safe at Home, which can help seniors in need with the cost of home modifications, such as walk-in tubs.
Manufacturer Discounts and Financing
Some manufacturers, like Boca and Jacuzzi, may offer special discounts and financing options. Independent Home offers a $1,500 off coupon that can also make a huge difference in what you pay. Explore our list of the best walk-in tubs to start your search.
Other Ways to Pay for a Walk-In Tub
If you don’t qualify for any financial assistance for walk-in tubs, you can still find ways to install a soaker without paying in full out of pocket. Here are some other options to explore:
- Personal loans: You can find personal loans from $1,000 to $100,000 and use the funds for just about anything, including home renovations. Interest rates are typically lower than credit cards, but repayment amounts and terms are fixed. You can usually find repayment terms between two and seven years for personal loans.
- Reverse mortgages: Another option for homeowners who are 62 or older is to get a reverse mortgage to cover rising medical costs and other expenses in retirement. There are a lot of factors to consider before getting a reverse mortgage (you’ll have to participate in financial counseling as part of the process), but some of the best reverse mortgage lenders offer great options that can help fund walk-in tubs and other expenses in retirement.
- HELOCs: Home equity lines of credit (HELOCs) are another way to tap into your home equity to fund medical costs, pay off debt, and cover the cost of home renovations. Alternatively, you can explore home equity loans (a lump sum rather than revolving credit). It takes between three and eight weeks to get your HELOC; if you need a walk-in tub faster, you’ll need to explore another option.
Another way to save money on a walk-in tub? Buy used. Pre-owned walk-in tubs can be significantly less expensive than brand-new tubs and might only have been gently used.
Alternatively, if you’re planning to downsize your home and buy a house without stairs, you can also add a walk-in tub to your must-have list. Real estate agents can help you find a smaller, more affordable home that is already outfitted with all the amenities you need to age in place.
Are Walk-In Tubs Tax Deductible?
Walk-in tubs may be tax deductible depending on your state tax laws. The IRS offers medical and dental care expense deductions if you itemize on your return.
Similarly, if you care for an older adult in your home and pay for a walk-in tub, you may be able to claim the child and dependent care tax credit. Currently, it’s worth $4,000 for one qualifying person.
Taxes can get confusing. If you already work with a financial advisor for estate planning, the advisor should be able to help you figure out how much you can deduct when filing your taxes.
Walk-in tubs are expensive, but for seniors who are prone to falls, they are well worth the investment. Although Medicare usually won’t cover the cost, there are other ways to get financial assistance for walk-in tubs, including VA benefits, grants, and state-based programming. Explore your options as you weigh the pros and cons of walk-in tubs.