If you or a loved one is elderly or suffers from physical disabilities, mobility scooters can be a real lifesaver. They can provide renewed independence by allowing you to carry out daily activities such as shopping or socializing with friends while avoiding pain or fatigue from spending too much time on your feet or walking.
But, unfortunately, most mobility scooters aren’t cheap. They can range in price from about $600 for a three-wheel travel scooter up to $2,500 or more for specialty scooters such as all-terrain and heavy-duty models.
This begs the question: Does insurance cover mobility scooters? Keep reading to learn whether insurance can help pay for the cost of a mobility scooter and other outlets that might assist in paying for your scooter.
Does Private Insurance Pay for Mobility Scooters?
Although many seniors are on Medicare – which usually covers some or all of the costs of mobility scooters for those in need – many people also wonder whether private insurance companies cover mobility scooters.
Primary insurance will typically pay for a mobility scooter if they determine that you or a loved one can benefit from the assistance of one. However, it’s important to note that the process can be long and tedious to obtain a mobility scooter through insurance. Be prepared to wait at least several weeks, if not months, to hear if you’ve been approved for a power scooter.
For private medical insurance to pay for a mobility scooter, you first need a prescription from a licensed medical professional such as a doctor, rheumatologist, occupational therapist, or other specialists. You must prove to the insurance company that a mobility scooter will improve you or your loved ones’ mobility issues better than a wheelchair, walker, or cane. On one hand, you must prove that you have the postural stability and strength needed to use a scooter but not the mobility and strength for a wheelchair or cane.
Receiving approval from an insurance company for a mobility scooter is not as simple as going to the physician’s office once, receiving a note, and automatically qualifying for a scooter through insurance. Be prepared for the possibility of making several visits to the doctor’s office and filling out a stack of paperwork before you’re approved.
If insurance does cover the scooter, it’s important to note that they may only cover certain makes and models. They may also only cover the scooter itself and not accessories such as ramps or lifts.
Insurance Companies that Cover Mobility Scooters
The best way to learn whether your insurance company covers all or part of the cost of buying a mobility scooter is to call them and ask. Generally, private insurance companies follow the same rules as Medicare when determining whether to cover the full or partial cost of a mobility product.
For example, BlueCross BlueShield will cover mobility products such as mobility scooters if you obtain a doctor’s note indicating that you need one to carry out day-to-day functions, while possessing the necessary skills and strength to operate a scooter.
Insurance companies will not cover mobility scooters for a short-term situation. For example, if you’re going on a vacation and need help getting around, you will not be approved for one. In most cases, you or your loved one will need to prove that you need a scooter full-time or have a disability that will last for at least six months.
Other ways to Get a mobility Scooter Covered
If you don’t have private insurance, there are other avenues to seek help to cover the cost of a power scooter, including:
Many seniors are already on Medicare, the federally-backed medical insurance program for people 65 and older. Medicare Part B’s Wheelchair & Scooter Benefit covers the partial cost of power mobility devices such as manual wheelchairs and mobilized scooters. If you receive a doctor’s note supporting your needs for a mobility scooter and fill out the proper paperwork, Medicare will often cover up to 80% of the cost of a mobility device. Seniors who supplement their Medicare with private insurance can typically get the private insurance company to pay for the remaining 20%.
If you’re a military veteran, reach out to your local Veterans Affairs office to see if they can assist you in obtaining a power scooter. The VA may provide a free mobility scooter if you suffered a disability while you were in active service.
Help from Grants and Charities
Numerous charities and foundations can help with the purchase of a mobility device. Click here to view a list of the various organizations that might be able to assist you.
The American Outreach Foundation
One of those organizations, the American Outreach Foundation, provides free mobility devices such as scooters to eligible lower-income families and veterans. You can fill out a form on the organization’s website. You typically need to meet one of the following criteria to qualify for a mobile device:
Latter-day Saint Charities
Latter-day Saint Charities, a department of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, offers a signature program that provides wheelchairs and mobility devices for free to people with disabilities.
If you haven’t had luck securing a mobility scooter, consider starting a fundraiser in your community or signing up for an online fundraiser on sites such as Go Fund Me.
As you can see, if you or a loved one needs a mobility scooter to help perform day-to-day activities, there are several options for having a scooter either covered by insurance or through a charitable organization. Just be patient, though; the process can take several months. But in the end, you can have a reliable scooter at minimal or no cost to you that will help you live a more fulfilling, rewarding life.