If you or someone you love has mobility needs that require the use of a wheelchair, there can be many obstacles to using it within your own home. Learn more about the different styles of ramps, where in the home they can be used, and whether or not Medicare coverage provides any benefits to help with the costs of installing them.
Common Wheelchair Ramp Styles
Your needs or the type of entryways your home has can determine what style of wheelchair ramp works best for your circumstances. In some cases, a portable-style ramp may be the best fit, while in others, a permanently affixed ramp is necessary.
Here are the six most common styles of wheelchair ramps:
- Threshold. These ramps can be between 1/2 inch to 6 inches high and are typically made of rubber or metal materials. They function as an indoor or outdoor ramp for both doorways and sidewalk curbs.
- Folding. Hinges help ramps like these fold for easy storage and portability and may come in a bi-fold or tri-fold design. They can be laid over certain small sets of stairs and used to enter wheelchair-accessible vehicles.
- Suitcase. The design of this ramp suits entryways with stairs and are typically built to support more weight than other temporary ramps manage. The name comes from the ramps built-in handle for portable use.
- Telescoping. This ramp functions as two separate metal channels that can be extended and retracted to the appropriate height and reach. They are easy to transport but expected to be used temporarily since they are not recommended for motorized scooters and should not be used when alone.
- Modular. While this style of ramp can be fixed permanently to chosen outdoor entryways, its design is technically portable since the pieces are pre-manufactured lightweight material for fast assembly. These typically do not require any additional building permits.
- Permanent. A ramp that is permanently attached to the threshold of a home may be made of many different materials, but it may require a building permit if your area’s building codes require it for certain permanent structures.
Where to Place Wheelchair Ramps
Most entryways into the home, be it the front door or the back one, are typically unsuitable for wheelchair access as-is. Evaluate each threshold in your home for any obstacle that may get in the way of your wheels or make it difficult for you to roll over.
This can include any threshold where the flooring changes and a dip occurs, such as a carpeted area’s transition to a tiled floor. If the drop is greater than 1/2 inch, you may need to consider placing a ramp there. Such a difference may be found between an indoor room and an exterior one, as is the case with a porch or garage space.
Some homes may be built with short staircases between one room and another, which would also necessitate a ramp for wheelchair users. Considerations like these not only make your home easier to live in as a wheelchair user, but it also increases the home’s safety and security.
Medicare Coverage for Wheelchair Ramps
Original Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance) and Part B (Medical Insurance) offer a comprehensive set of benefits that cover many different needs. Even though Medicare Part B does provide coverage for many different types of durable medical equipment (DME), such a wheelchair itself or a lift to help you move from a bed or chair into a wheelchair, a ramp is not covered under these benefits.
Even though a doctor can prescribe, or order, a wheelchair ramp as a medically necessary piece of equipment, a ramp does not meet Medicare’s requirements for the item or device to directly treat a medical condition.
Medicare Advantage plans are required to provide the same Part A and Part B benefits as Original Medicare, but many offer additional coverage. Because these plans are offered by private insurers, benefits can differ by company, plan, and location. Compare Medicare Advantage plans available in your area to find coverage that meets your individual needs.