When deciding to improve mobility for you or a loved one, it’s common to research whether Medicare pays for stair lifts. After all, if the intended stair lift user is 65 or older, it’s likely they have other healthcare needs covered by this federal health insurance.
While on their fact-finding mission, people often come across information stating that Medicare sometimes pays for patient lifts. Naturally, the next question becomes: Are stair lifts a type of patient lift?
Unfortunately, the answer is no. And if that leads you to conclude that Medicare does not pay for stair lifts, you are correct.
But why? It helps to understand how the federal government classifies the differences between patient lifts and stair lifts. Let’s take a look at the details.
What is a Patient Lift?
For more information about patient lifts, we turn to the federal agency that administers Medicare, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Healthcare providers who take Medicare insurance rely on CMS billing codes during the billing and payment process.
CMS lists nine medical billing codes for patient lifts:
- E0621: sling or seat, patient lift, canvas or nylon
- E0625: patient lift, bathroom, or toilet, not otherwise classified
- E0630: patient lift, hydraulic or mechanical, includes any seat, sling, strap, or pad
- E0635: patient lift, electric with seat or sling
- E0636: multi-positional patient support system, with integrated lift, patient accessible controls
- E0639: patient lift, moveable from room to room with disassembly and reassembly, includes all components/accessories
- E0640: patient lift, fixed system, includes all components/accessories
- E1035: multi-positional patient transfer system, with integrated seat, operated by caregiver, patient weight capacity up to and including 300 lbs.
- E1036: multi-positional patient transfer system, extra-wide, with integrated seat, operated by caregiver, patient weight capacity greater than 300 lbs.
Why Do the Labels Matter?
Although not exactly riveting, these codes represent vital information to know if you are researching stair lifts and/or patient lifts. Why is that? Because, at first, the codes that correlate with patient lifts appear to include several candidates for a stair lift-inclusive medical billing code. See: Nos. 3, 4, and 7 in the list above (E0630, E0635, and E0640).
The language might seem to indicate that Medicare covers stair lifts. After all, E0640 even includes the words “lift” and “fixed system,” which accurately describe a stair lift. But again, it is unfortunately not true that Medicare could cover the cost of your stair lift.
You’re probably wondering why again. Well, when it comes down to it, the answer — like many other misfortunes in life — is buried within a three-foot-tall stack of federal regulations. In this case, it goes by “CFR Title 21, Chapter 1, Subchapter H.”
Federal Definition of Patient Lift
Tucked deep inside this document is Part 880, which defines a patient lift as a “device, either fixed or mobile, used to lift and transport a patient in the horizontal or other required position from one place to another, as from a bed to a bath.” It adds that such a device “includes straps and a sling to support the patient.”
Federal Definition of Stair Lift
In contrast, Part 890 of that same regulation defines “stairway chair lifts” (the official name for stair lifts) as “a motorized lift equipped with a seat and permanently mounted in one location that is intended for use in mitigating mobility impairment caused by injury or other disease by moving a person up and down a stairway.”
Federal Definition of Vertical Platform Lift
While we’re at it, Part 890 also groups vertical platform lifts and inclined platform lifts together as “wheelchair elevators,” which are “permanently installed in one location that is intended for use in mitigating mobility impairment caused by injury or other disease by providing a guided platform to move a person from one level to another, with or without a wheelchair.”
Still not convinced? For the abbreviated version, go to the FDA’s page dedicated to Patient Lifts. It states up front that patient lifts “should not be confused with stairway chair lifts or elevators.”
Here for All Your Lift-Related Needs
So, alas, patient lifts and stair lifts are not the same, confirming that Medicare does not pay for stair lifts.
However, there are other ways to pay for a stair lift. And the good news is, a stairway chair lift might just be more affordable than you think — especially when compared with costly alternatives such as major home remodeling or assisted living facilities.
As a family-owned and operated business, Arrow Lift has provided safe, reliable lifts for our clients for almost 40 years. Whether you need a stair lift, a wheelchair lift, or a ceiling track lift, we are here to help. We care about your needs and would sincerely appreciate the opportunity to discuss how we can make your home more accessible.