Seniors want to maintain their mobility. In some situations, the use of a walker or rollator will make that possible. Seniors searching for a free walker should consider their options. This may include Medicare, Medicaid, veteran’s organizations, and other agencies. While some providers only cover a part of the cost, there may be other supplementary resources available.
Getting a Walker through Medicare: How It Works
Coverage for walkers and rollators falls under Medicare Part B. This section of the Medicare insurance program for seniors specifies medical and mobility devices that have received approval for funding or reimbursement as durable medical equipment (DME).
In order for the walker or rollator to be covered for full or partial reimbursement, the following conditions must be met:
- The item must be considered “medically necessary” based upon the professional opinion and determination of a physician or qualified health care provider.
- The item must be prescribed by a physician, podiatrist, or other properly credentialed medical professional that assumes responsibility for issuing the prescription.
- The doctor issuing the prescription and the supplier must also have a relationship with Medicare in which they are enrolled participants who have agreed to abide by Medicare policies in order to receive payment for their services or equipment provided.
- The item must be considered a “cost effective” solution or equipment to address the medically necessary situation. This means that you may receive a basic walker, rather than one of higher quality, based upon Medicare’s determination.
Here are other important considerations:
- On rare occasions, a qualified provider may offer a walker to a senior from an entity — such as a supplier for a hospital — that does not have a current contract in place to provide DME under Medicare. In these cases, Medicare may cover some of the costs.
- In some situations, the doctor’s diagnosis and other individual circumstances may require you to rent the equipment, rather than purchasing it.
- Prior to requesting a walker from your physician, check to ensure that they are currently enrolled as participants in Medicare. Physicians who fail to meet Medicare’s strict standards or whose enrollment in Medicare has lapsed will not have their claims paid and will not be able to issue a prescription acceptable for Medicare reimbursement. If a supplier does not have Medicare approval, remember that they do not have an upper limit restricting what they may charge you for the device.
Generally, Medicare Part B does not cover the full cost of these devices. Medicare Plan B covers 80% of the approved price. You will most likely be responsible for some out-of-pocket expenses, usually amounting to the remaining 20%.
You may be able to get a free walker using Medicare, if certain conditions are met:
- If you have some other private insurance or protection policy, they may cover the difference.
- Some Medigap or Medicare Supplement plans may cover all or part of the remaining amount, though you should carefully investigate their coverage if you have any questions.
- Those who have enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans through private insurers should contact the provider or plan administrator to determine coverage levels and necessary steps to ensure reimbursement.
Getting a Walker through Medicaid: How It Works
Medicaid and Medicare cover different groups, though there may be some overlap in eligibility. Similar to Medicare, Medicaid only reimburses walkers or rollators that are deemed to be medically necessary. Medicaid generally covers cost-effective DME prescribed by a doctor. It is possible that you may not receive the equipment you want, based upon the prescription submitted and Medicaid’s determination of what you require.
Unlike Medicare, Medicaid is administered by individual states. Lists of covered equipment and definitions of services and devices covered may vary from one state to another. To investigate coverage options and limitations under Medicaid, you should contact the Medicaid administrator in your state of residence.
Medicaid in most states covers walkers or rollators for individuals who meet eligibility requirements defined by state laws and regulations. Most have similar basic requirements to Medicare:
- The item must be medically necessary.
- The item must have a prescription issued by a doctor or practitioner with proper credentials.
- The doctor and supplier must be enrolled in Medicare/Medicaid for reimbursement.
- The item provided must be cost effective.
State procedures, rules, and income limitations may vary widely. Those planning to use a Home & Community-Based Services (HCBS) waiver may have to take additional steps that differ from Medicare. The monthly income cap in one state may be noticeably different than in neighboring states.
Despite these additional requirements that vary by state, Medicaid usually does provide full funding for walkers and rollators. This differs from Medicare, the federal program that generally caps coverage at 80%. Since many seniors are eligible for both programs, they should determine which option offers the best coverage for their walker or rollator.
Getting a Free Walker for Veterans: How It Works
In addition to the options above, veterans with military service should consider programs and financial assistance offered to them through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and state-level offices with a similar mission. Although offices in different states may have varying responsibilities and levels of support, the National Association of State Directors of Veterans Affairs (NASDVA) does coordinate between these units and shares information about state-based resources.
Most veterans offices define DME as assistive equipment that has a medical purpose and is created for repeated use. There are three notable programs:
- TRICARE plans include varying levels of coverage and may require enrollment fees. These plans should cover the remaining 20% co-pay for DME not available in Medicare.
- CHAMPVA for Life (CFL) covers some military family members who are ineligible for TRICARE. This coverage through the Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs (CHAMPVA) should generally cover the remaining 20% co-pay.
- VD-HCBS, or the Veterans Directed Home and Community Based Services, may also offer some support for costs related to DME.
Getting a Free Walker for the Disabled
Elderly Americans who have disabilities should be able to secure a walker from one of the programs above, depending on their age, income level, and military service record. They may also want to consider locally-based agencies and groups who provide used medical equipment. Qualification requirements vary by geographic location and the local organizations involved.
This resource offers helpful information to serve as a starting point for seniors who want to get a free walker. Contacting the offices of these providers is an important first step. Good luck with your search!
- Walkers for Senior Coverage
- Does Medicare Pay for a Walker for Seniors?
- Will Medicare cover the cost of wheelchairs and walkers?
- Does Medicaid Cover Walkers? | Qualifying For A Walker
- Does Medicare / Medicaid cover walkers?
- Does Medicaid Cover Walkers?
- How to Get Free Used Medical Equipment
- Durable Medical Equipment
- Walking Aids | TriCare
- What Part B covers | Medicare
- Category: Medicare and Medicaid
- Home & Community Based Services
- State Profiles
- State Departments of Veterans Affairs Office Locations
- Home | TRICARE
- CHAMPVA benefits
- Veteran-Directed Care