If your doctor has recently prescribed crutches to help you walk after an illness, injury, or disability, you may have questions about your Medicare coverage and how much you will have to pay. Fortunately, Medicare Part B (the medical insurance part of Original Medicare) may help pay for you to either rent or buy your crutches, as long as certain requirements are met. Medicare considers crutches as Durable Medical Equipment (DME).

How can I get suitable crutches for my condition?

If your doctor decides that you need crutches, he or she may prescribe a suitable type, based on your physical condition and the type of support you need to get around.

You might want to ask your DME supplier (the company that rents or sells the crutches) to make sure the crutches are the right fit for you; some (such as underarm crutches) are usually adjustable. The supplier, or your health-care provider, should also be able to tell you how to navigate steps and stairs.

How does Medicare coverage apply to crutches?

As mentioned above, Medicare Part B might cover crutches if they meet certain Durable Medical Equipment (DME) requirements.

Usually, as long as both your health-care provider and medical equipment supplier participate in the Medicare program, and your doctor prescribes crutches for you as medically necessary, Part B will pay 80% of allowable charges for your crutches and you pay 20% plus any applicable Part B deductible. To avoid being charged more than the Medicare-approved amount, you may want to check with your health-care provider and the medical equipment supplier ahead of time to make sure they accept Medicare assignment (a payment agreement with Medicare).

In 2011, Medicare started the Competitive Bidding Program, a cost-saving program which is being rolled out across the country. If you live in an area where this program is in place, in order to get Medicare coverage for your crutches, you must rent or buy them from a Medicare-contracted supplier, unless you’re enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan. If you have a Medicare Advantage plan, you may want to contact the plan for help locating a supplier.

If you’re enrolled in Medicare Part B, you can find a Medicare-contracted supplier at Medicare.gov.

If you have questions about your Medicare coverage and durable medical equipment such as crutches, I would be happy to talk to you. You can schedule a phone call at your convenience or request an email with personalized information just for you by clicking on the Get Quotes button to get started.