Medicare Part B covers walkers, canes, wheelchairs and other mobility devices under the coverage category of “durable medical equipment,” or DME. While Medicare does not cover the UPWalker specifically, there are other options Medicare beneficiaries may be able to consider.
Here is a review of walkers and equipment Medicare typically may cover, as well as a look at the reason why Medicare doesn’t cover the UPWalker in particular.
The UPWalker is a mobility device made by LifeWalker Mobility Products. The unique design helps user stand more upright and includes a built-in seat with a backrest. The UPWalker is foldable and lightweight and comes available in several different sizes.
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The UPWalker fits Medicare’s definition of “durable medical equipment,” so why isn’t it covered by Medicare? The reason is quite simple: LifeWalker Mobility Products does not accept Medicare reimbursement.
Medicare defines “durable medical equipment” as “Certain medical equipment, like a walker, wheelchair, or hospital bed, that’s ordered by your doctor for use in the home.” To be classified as durable medical equipment, the item must be considered:
There are four basic requirements a piece of durable medical equipment must meet to qualify for Medicare coverage:
The UPWalker may be considered medically necessary and prescribed by a doctor. But with a retail price of more than $600 in 2021, which is several times higher than more traditional walkers, it may not meet the requirement of being cost effective.1
However, the main reason why the UPWalker is not covered by Medicare is because the supplier is not enrolled in Medicare, meaning they opt out of Medicare and don’t accept Medicare reimbursement for their services or devices.
Suppliers of durable medical equipment and other health care providers have three options as it relates to Medicare participation.
There are some examples of services and items that are not covered by Original Medicare (Medicare Part A and Part B) that may be covered by a private Medicare plan known as a Medicare Advantage (Medicare Part C) plan. These extra benefits may include things like prescription drug coverage, hearing, dental, vision, transportation and more. This is not the case, however, for the UPWalker.
Providers who don’t accept Medicare are not allowed to accept Medicare Advantage plans. And because the supplier of the UPWalker has opted out of the Medicare program entirely, it will not accept a Medicare Advantage plan.
The UPWalker may be paid for with a cedit or debit card, and the supplier may offers a monthly financing plan. The UPWalker may be covered by private insurance and HSA or FSA accounts, depending on the plan.
Walkers are generally covered by Medicare Part B and by Medicare Advantage plans. To find covered medical equipment and supplies like walkers, you can call to speak with a licensed insurance agent who can tell you more about Medicare Advantage plans available where you live and the benefits they cover.
Speak with a licensed insurance agent
Christian Worstell is a licensed insurance agent and a Senior Staff Writer for MedicareAdvantage.com. He is passionate about helping people navigate the complexities of Medicare and understand their coverage options.
His work has been featured in outlets such as Vox, MSN, and The Washington Post, and he is a frequent contributor to health care and finance blogs.
Christian is a graduate of Shippensburg University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. He currently lives in Raleigh, NC.
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