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CostHelper > Health & Personal Care  > Medical Equipment and Orthopedics > Wheelchair

Wheelchair Cost


How Much Does a Wheelchair Cost?

 
low costLow: Basic Manual Chair $500average costMedium: Manual Chair, Everyday Use $1,000-$2,000high costHigh: Power Chair Averages $7,100
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Wheelchairs vary almost as much as the individuals who require them. Though the cost can be significant, the chairs can provide mobility and independence. Be sure to talk to a doctor before purchasing a wheelchair, for help deciding what type of chair is best.

Typical costs:

  • A standard, manual wheelchair costs an average of $500, according to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation[1] . A chair meant for everyday use costs between $1,000 and $2,000 depending upon the features of the chair, which can include an individualized seat, various types of wheels and a lightweight frame. The Invacare Top End Crossfire All Terrain Rigid Wheelchair[2] retails for about $1,900 and includes knobby, all-terrain wheels, a lightweight frame and a variety of color options.
  • Costs for a power wheelchair vary tremendously, starting around $1,200-$1,500 and going as high as $30,000. One study, published in the Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation[3] , evaluated 15 electric-powered wheelchairs, with an average cost of $7,132.
  • Costs for power wheelchairs vary based on features such as an individualized seat, longer battery life, ergonomic features and types of wheels. The Permobile C500 Lowrider[4] costs about $10,000, with adjustable speeds, tight turning radius, higher weight capacity and an estimated 25-mile battery range.
  • Securing insurance coverage to purchase a wheelchair can be a challenge. According to the Mobility Advisor[5] , private insurers and government programs typically cover between 50 and 80 percent of the costs. A physician will need to send documents proving that the patient requires a wheelchair.
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What should be included:
  • A basic manual wheelchair includes a seat, handles, arm rests, foot rests, manual brake, four tires and a frame. Assembly may be required. Extra features can include a specialized ergonomic seat, leg rests or a pouch for carrying personal belongings.
  • A basic power wheelchair should include a seat, handles, arm rests, foot rests, tires, a motor, power supply, battery and maneuvering device. Power wheelchair extras can include a specialized maneuvering device, extra batteries, neck support or a lift device to assist with transfer from the chair.
  • Most wheelchairs are covered by a warranty. Look for a chair with at least a three-year warranty.
  • A physician, nurse or wheelchair company representative should provide a tutorial on using the chair, including information on charging the batteries, set-up requirements and a maneuvering tutorial.
Additional costs:
  • Securing coverage under insurance or a government program such as Medicare for a wheelchair requires a face-to-face visit with a physician, to get documentation of the need for a wheelchair. Normal fees will apply and will vary depending upon the physician's office and geographic location. For those with insurance, typical coinsurance and copay rates range from $5 to $50.
  • Though most power wheelchairs will come with a battery, replacements will be required and can cost between $70 and $450 depending upon the type of wheelchair.
  • A simple wheelchair cushion made of foam costs about $7 while a neoprene rubber wheelchair cushion designed to limit pressure point tenderness can cost more than $500.
Discounts:
  • Several national and regional programs offer low-income families free or reduced-cost wheelchairs, including LifeNets[6] and Chariots of Hope[7] . Eligibility varies.
  • Some local and regional associations also provide assistance to individuals who require a wheelchair due to a specific illness or accident. For example, the Muscular Dystrophy Association[8] and local chapters of the National Spinal Cord Injury Association[9] provide help for qualifying families and individuals.
  • Purchasing a used wheelchair can help defray the costs. According to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society[10] , used wheelchairs often cost half of the original price. Get a used wheelchair checked out by a certified dealer and ask a physical therapist to make sure the equipment will fit the patient's needs and body type. Insurance companies typically do not cover used medical equipment.
  • The cost of a wheelchair may be tax deductible if the individual has a physician's letter outlining the need.
Shopping for a wheelchair:
  • Talk to the doctor or physical therapist about the individual's needs. Ask if he or she recommends any specific brands or types of chair.
  • The University of Iowa provides a checklist of questions for individuals considering wheelchair purchase.
  • The University of Washington[11] recommends making several visits to a medical supply store, shopping online and even talking to other wheelchair users before making a purchase.
  • Some online retailers such as Spin Life.com[12] offer competitive prices and telephone advice regarding the many options.
  • Before making a purchase, check with an insurance representative about coverage options. Most insurance companies will cover between 50 and 80 percent of the cost, but only if the insurance guidelines are followed.
Material on this page is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice. Always consult your physician or pharmacist regarding medications or medical procedures.
 
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External Resources:
  1.  pweb1.rwjf.org/reports/grr/029269s.htm
  2.  www.spinlife.com/Invacare-Top-End-Crossfire-All-Terrain-Rigid-Wheelchair/spec.cfm?produ...
  3.  www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15083438?ordinalpos=2&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pu...
  4.  www.usatechguide.org/itemreview.php?itemid=1266
  5.  www.mobility-advisor.com/electric-wheelchair.html
  6.  www.lifenets.org/wheelchair/
  7.  www.chariotsofhope.org/
  8.  static.mda.org/publications/quest/q84wheelchair.html
  9.  www.spinalcord.org/chapters/
  10.  www.nationalmssociety.org/living-with-multiple-sclerosis/mobility-and-accessibility/aff...
  11.  sci.washington.edu/info/newsletters/articles/03sum_wheelchair.asp
  12.  www.spinlife.com/
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