Serious complications from diabetes can cause damage to different parts of the body. Diabetic neuropathy, which is a type of nerve damage, may leave a patient’s feet at risk of extreme skin breakdown, ulcers and calluses. Special shoes and inserts can help prevent these conditions, and Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance) coverage may provide patients with help covering the costs.
The Benefits of Shoes and Inserts for Diabetics
Prescription shoes and inserts for diabetic patients are specifically designed to minimize friction and provide deep cushion. In many cases, they must be custom-made to be an exact fit for each patient. Their exterior is often made of a supple leather or soft fabric material with foam padding across the top of the foot and around the collar of the shoe.
Interior stitching and seams are kept to a minimum, and the toe box is often higher and wider than a non-prescription shoe. This allows the foot to move within the shoe without excess rubbing between toes or around the heel and joints, which helps prevent sores and blisters from forming.
Removable inner pieces are also a common feature as these can wear with time and will need to be replaced more frequently than the shoe itself. Inserts are made of moldable materials so that they take on the shape of the foot. These materials are also selected for their ability to reduce moisture, which can cause a bacterial infection. Because of their enhanced features, these shoes may also be called extra depth shoes or therapeutic shoes.
When are Special Shoes for Diabetics Necessary?
If you’re a diabetic and are experiencing pain or numbness in your legs and feet, it may be a sign that you need prescription shoes to help you manage your symptoms. If you’re struggling with other issues, such as recurring blisters, pre-ulcerative calluses, ulcers, foot deformity or below average circulation, your doctor may also recommend diabetic shoes to prevent these symptoms from worsening.
There are many styles of prescription shoes, so you should discuss with your doctor what daily habits you struggle to complete due to your symptoms. Some shoes are better suited for work while others are made for running and jogging comfortably. Because maintaining mobility plays such a key role in managing diabetes, choosing the right kind of shoes is important.
Medicare Coverage for Special Shoes for Diabetics
Though these shoes require a prescription, they are considered durable medical equipment in most cases. This means they fall under Medicare Part B coverage and cost-sharing rules. In order to receive a prescription that can be approved for coverage through Part B, your doctor will need to submit proof of medical necessity and certify that these shoes will improve your condition. Part B rules may require yearly renewal of this assessment in order to continue providing coverage for the prescription.
The supplier of your prescription shoes must also be Medicare-approved in order for coverage rules to apply. Under Part B coverage and cost-sharing rules, you may be able to receive one pair of shoes each calendar year. If your shoes are custom-molded, Part B may also provide coverage for two more pairs of inserts. If you use extra-depth prescription shoes, then you may have coverage for three pairs of inserts.
Medicare Advantage plans include the same Part A and Part B benefits as Original Medicare, but many have additional benefits that help reduce out-of-pocket expenses. These differ between each Medicare Advantage plan, so you should check each plan’s benefits package to compare your options.