Power Wheelchairs: When Electric Wheelchairs Are Needed

Power scooters, power wheelchairs, manual wheelchairs - everyone has seen the television commercials promoting wheelchairs for seniors.  Why?  Well, it turns out Medicare will pay for them in some cases but it is very important to understand when it is necessary to have an electric wheelchair and important to understand that just like buying a new car, many details must be present in order for it to be a great fit.  Custom fitting of power wheelchairs from height to weight to managing the controls are a vital part of the process.

Who Needs An Electric Wheelchair?

The use of an electric wheelchair is not limited to seniors. Many people suffering from chronic illnesses such as Fibromyalgia and Multiple Sclerosis find an electric wheelchair necessary for daily activities. This article will offer advice on choosing the best wheelchair and what methods are available for payment.

Choosing the Best Electric Wheelchair

There are several variations of electric wheelchairs that are suitable for any individual based on their physical needs. Wheelchair styles can differ in frame size, seat size, seat height, tire size, and number of wheels. While shopping for an electric wheelchair it is best to test out several chairs and seek a doctor’s opinion. Electric wheelchairs can be customized for better back, neck, and leg support.

Add-ons and Accessories

Electric Wheelchair manufactures now offer several options for customizing a wheelchair. Common accessories include arm rest pouches and organizers, reflectors, seat belts, and seat cushions. Many companies also offer the option to install ramps and chair lifts. Ramps and chair lifts can be installed in homes and vans. Using a ramp or a chair lift saves time and adds an extra level of safety. Unfortunately Medicare does not cover the cost of a ramp or lift.

Cost Coverage

Whether the payment for an electric wheelchair comes out of pocket or is paid by a third party, the cost can add an unnecessary amount of stress. The best option is to plan in advance and know all of the available options.


Under the Social Security Act, Medicare Part B, persons who qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance are eligible for durable medical equipment reimbursement. The equipment must be appropriate for in-home use. Medicare can cover up to 80% of the cost of an electric wheelchair. However, there are specific guidelines for coverage. The physical condition of the patient is the most important in determining coverage. The patient must have a condition that without the use of a wheelchair would cause them to be confined to a bed or chair. They must be unable to operate a manual wheelchair and safely operate an electric one. Documentation from a person’s physician is required. The documentation must support the necessity for an electric wheelchair. A documentation of the patient’s current functional levels and limitations along with a medical diagnosis is essential. Most conditions resulting from a neurological or muscular disease are covered. Once approved, Medicare will determine the patient’s level of coverage, whether it is rental or full purchase price. To assure a quick reimbursement, check the coding of the wheelchair from the salesperson. The coding is used for Medicare reimbursement and must be exact.


Medicaid is offered to families with low-income and varies from state to state. It is usually not suitable for wheelchair coverage. However, Medicaid was established to offer services for children through the age of 21. The Early Periodic Screening, Diagnosis and Treatment program requires Medicaid to support the use of wheelchairs for children through age 21. If results of this screen program show that a wheelchair is medically necessary it may be covered by Medicaid for a child. Many states will provide Medicaid services through an HMO or a preferred provider.

Knowing all of the options and resources available is essential to getting the most out of an electric wheelchair. One resource to learn more about electric wheelchairs is All Mobility Scooters, where you can find more advice and articles on wheelchairs and cost coverage.

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