Medicare and Lift Chairs

Published by Steve Hedberg on October 16, 2008 Under Medicare

Medicare went into effect in July of 1965 and was signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson. It helps many people, who might not be able to otherwise afford health insurance, get the coverage they deserve and need. In addition to covering the cost of trips to doctors office and trips to the hospital, Medicare also covers many types of Durable Medical Equipment.

The types of durable medical equipment covered by Medicare, is very comprehensive. It includes things like prosthesis, eye glasses, adjustable beds, oxygen, and many other devices. Generally Medicare covers 80% of the cost of these devices, with the insured being responsible for the remaining 20%.

What is Covered

One of the most common questions new users of Medicare asks is, “Will my lift chair be covered by Medicare?” The short answer to this is that Medicare only covers the cost of the lifting mechanism in the chair, which must be electronically controlled and not use springs. This will be around $300.

Why only $300?

To understand why only the lifting mechanism is covered, it is necessary to go back in time to the early eighties. Lift chairs first became popular in the first part of the early 1980′s and like many industries, many of the early developers of these chairs were very disreputable. The general practice was to buy a pre-made recliner and insert a lifting mechanism into the chair.

The lifting mechanism that these disreputable business chose to use, was a spring lifting system. These systems were pretty dangerous, because once it was engaged, there was no way to stop it. When you pushed the up button, the chair went up. If something happened or you pushed the button by accident, the chair was going to move upwards. This was responsible for many accidents, but lift chairs were still very popular because of the great benefits and independence that these chairs offered.

During the eighties, as the popularity of lift chairs increased, so did the amount of Medicare claims for these chairs. Between 1984 and 1987, Medicare was paying an average of about $45 million for lift chairs every year. By 1989, this number had increased by about 35% to $60 million a year.

In 1990, Congress voted to change the way lift chairs were covered by Medicare. They decided to only cover the cost of the lifting mechanism and to impose strict requirements on the type of lifting mechanisms that were covered. In order for the lift chair to be covered, they required an electrical lifting system to be installed in the chair.

These strict new requirements, effectively forced most of the disreputable business owners that were still selling spring lift chairs, to change their ways.

Today almost no lift chairs still use a spring lifting system, but some people still sell them, so you need to always make sure that the chair is controlled electronically.

Reputable Companies

Now while many of the companies that were making chairs in the eighties were incredibly disreputable, there were also several that stood up and put the customer first. Specifically Golden Technologies and Pride Mobility both only manufactured custom built lift chairs that used an electrical lifting system. This ideology that put the customer first, is the reason that both of these companies are now the leading manufacturer of lift chairs and other types of home medical equipment.

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