Paying for Stair Lifts - Medicare's Policy & Other Financial Assistance (2024)

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Table of Contents

  • Medicare’s Policy on Stair Lifts
  • Medicaid Coverage
  • Assistance for Veterans
  • State-Based Home Modification Programs
  • Other Financial Assistance and Payment Options
  • Costs of Stair Lifts
  • Renting Stair Lifts
  • Installations
  • Alternatives to Stair Lifts
  • Stair Lift Manufacturers

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Medicare’s Policy on Stair Lifts

Does Medicare cover the cost of stair lifts? It is logical to begin here, as it is a common question relevant to most American seniors. The short, uncomplicated answer is, for all practical purposes, original Medicare does not pay for stair lifts. But Medicare Advantage plans may cover the cost.

There is one possible exception to this rule in regards to original Medicare. Original Medicare might pay for a small portion of the cost if the stair lift has an elevating seat, which helps the rider to sit down and get up from the chair safely. However, such a feature would only be available in a high-end stair chair, which would cost considerably more than the amount original Medicare would reimburse the purchaser. In other words, the amount of financial assistance would be less than the extra cost for a stair lift that has that feature.

Medicare supplemental insurance policies also do not cover stair lifts. These policies are intended to help with co-payments and deductibles for goods and services covered by original Medicare. Since original Medicare does not help, neither would a Supplemental or Medigap policy.

However, as of 2019, Medicare Advantage (MA) plans can offer supplemental healthcare benefits in addition to the already available supplemental benefits, such as vision, dental, and hearing. Previous to this new ruling, services and items that were intended for “daily maintenance” were not allowable benefits. That said, while CMS does not clearly define the term “healthcare benefits,” items and / or services must be medically necessary for the senior in question and advised by a licensed healthcare professional. An item that assists with a functional need due to an injury or health issue, or reduces probable need for emergency care, may fit the bill for an allowable supplemental healthcare benefit. In April of 2019, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) brought more good news with the announcement that Medicare Advantage plans in 2020 will be able to offer supplemental benefits for persons with chronic illnesses. These supplemental benefits, which may be tailored to the specific needs of the chronically ill MA recipient, do not necessarily have to be health related. They only need to provide “a reasonable expectation of improving or maintaining the health or overall function” of that individual. Therefore, it is our interpretation that some Medicare Advantage plans will pay for stair lifts.

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Medicaid Coverage

As Medicaid policies are different in every state, it is difficult to make a general statement about Medicaid’s coverage of stair lifts. Furthermore, Medicaid offers multiple programs in each state, making the answer still more complicated. However, if we limit the discussion to Medicaid’s policy for the elderly and / or disabled who are living in their homes, the probable answer is yes. Medicaid will likely cover the cost for medically necessary stair lifts. This is provided they enable individuals to remain living in their homes and avoid nursing home placement.

To clarify, states wish to limit the number of persons who enter nursing homes paid for by Medicaid. Therefore, they are willing to provide financial assistance to help Medicaid eligible, nursing home qualified persons remain living at home. If the lack of a stair lift in one’s home would force them to move from the home, then it is likely Medicaid would pay.

If Medicaid in your state covers stair lifts, it will do so through your state’s Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) Waivers. Waivers are Medicaid non-entitlement programs that help individuals who require a nursing home level of care to remain living at home.Many Medicaid Waivers cover home modifications. And the purchase and installation of a stair lift would be considered a home modification. Therefore, it would be a covered benefit.See a state by state list of HCBS Waivers for home modifications.

Another option is State Plan Medicaid, which may be thought of as regular Medicaid. Regular Medicaid is an entitlement, but usually has more restrictive financial criteria when compared to Waivers.Many states cover durable medical equipment (DME) under their state plan.Under DME, they may cover mobility-enhancing equipment and a stair lift could be classified as such.Medicaid would pay only for the most basic model and the program may cap the amount of assistance an individual can receive. Therefore, the state plan Medicaid program might not cover the full cost.

Assistance for Veterans

The Veterans Administration is somewhat more generous than Medicare when it comes to stair lifts, or stair glides, as they are referred to by the VA. Wheelchair bound veterans and those who cannot otherwise manage the stairs in their homes as a result of a service connected disability can have stair lifts paid for by VA health care. A home visit and a skills evaluation are both necessary before authorization.

There are also options for elderly veterans or their spouses who cannot manage stairs for reasons unrelated to their military service.Many families are already aware of the VA Aid and Attendance benefit, which can be used for care related services.If not, more information is available here.

Lesser known are Veterans Directed Home and Community Based Services (VD-HCBS).These are VA Medical Center-specific programs that help veterans who would otherwise require nursing home level care by providing them with assistance that allows them to remain living in their homes.Some of these services are left up to the veterans’ discretion, hence the phrase, “Veterans Directed.” Under VD-HCBS,should the veteran determine a stair lift is essential to helping him/her remain at home, it would then be an allowable expense.

Yet another option for veterans are grants intended to accommodate for a disability. TheSHA Grantand theSAH Grantare intended to pay for home modifications for persons with impaired vision or those who have lost a limb. Notably,HISA Grants,which are available to a wider array of veterans, will not pay for stair-glides

The consequences of a staircase fall are not limited to physical injuries such as broken hips, wrists and concussions. The psychological impact can create anxiety and limit mobility. Both of which have cascading negative effects on the health of the elderly.

State-Based Home Modification Programs

Approximately half the states have non-Medicaid assistance programs that help the elderly remain in their homes. Unfortunately, not all of these programs cover home modifications. While eligibility requirements differ from program to program, typically these programs consider both the applicant’s income and his / her financial assets (as well as physical need). A list of state programs that provide help for home modifications is available here. One must inquire specifically with the program to determine if a stair lift would be an allowable expense.

Other Financial Assistance and Payment Options

  • Other possible sources of assistance include low interests or conditional loans from state assistive technology programs. While all states have assistive technology programs (or projects), not every state has a loan program. Contact information for each state’s assistive technology program is available here. Some state programs also offer equipment lending programs. It is possible that some programs could have stair lifts available for long term borrowing. Of course, installation and customization costs would still exist.
  • If a family is retro-fitting an entire home to accommodate an elderly or disabled resident with other expensive modifications, such as wheelchair ramps and walk-in tubs, a reverse mortgage might be an option.
  • There may be other very localized financial assistance available as well. One should check with their local Area Agency on Aging.
  • Some stair lift manufacturers or resellers offer financing which can spread the cost of a stair lift over many months.
  • Should the cost of a stair lift come out of pocket, it is tax deductible as a Medical and Dental Expense.

Did You Know?

Seniors are eligible to receive free, non-binding quotes for bathroom safety modifications.

Costs of Stair Lifts

The purchase price of a new stair lift ranges from approximately $2,000 – $7,500. Some manufacturers and resellers include the installation costs in the purchase price and others do not. For those stair lifts that cannot be self-installed, one should expect to pay an additional $500 – $1500 for a professional installation.

Free non-binding quotes are available here.

For an in-depth review of stair lift companies, makes, and models, see our best stair lift page here.

Features Affecting Price

There are many factors and features that can affect the price of a stair lift. Some of the more important ones include:

  • Shape of Stairway – straight staircases are the most affordable. Curves and landings can add as much as $3,000 to the purchase price. The width of a staircase may not add to the price, but may limit the models of stair lifts that can be used. Therefore, houses with narrow staircases may be limited to more expensive models. Some staircases may be too narrow to accommodate any stair lift.
  • Length of Stairway – most stair lifts provide enough track or rail for about 15 feet of run (distance from base to top, not vertical height). For longer stairways, additional track can be purchased for approximately $50 – $100 per foot.
  • Indoor vs. Outdoor – the weatherproofing required for an outdoor lift adds approximately $500 to the purchase price.
  • Rider Weight – most stair lifts are designed for individuals up to 200 – 300 lbs. Specially designed bariatric stair lifts can accommodate riders up to 600 lbs. This can add $500 – $2,000 to the cost.
  • Chair Features – folding seats, arms, footrests, swivels, padding and upholstery material can add $100 – $400.
  • Folding Rail – some houses require that the track fold up at the base or top of the stairs to accommodate for hallways and doorways. Folding segments will add $300 – $500 to the purchase price.

Purchasing Used Stair Lifts

Unlike many home medical products, purchasing a stair lift used makes good sense. The designed lifespan for most stair lifts is approximately ten years, and the average stair lift is only used in the home for three years. For those paying out of pocket, buying used can save 25% – 50% off of purchasing the product new. Buyers can expect a product price of between $500 and $1,500 for a used stair lift. It should be emphasized that unless one is buying from a professional refurbisher, this price very likely does not include installation.

One challenge, when buying used, is with curved staircases. It is much easier to match a straight staircase stair lift to a different house. With curved staircases, very few are exactly alike and buyers may be required to purchase additional pieces of track from the manufacturer to make the stair lift fit their home.

Renting Stair Lifts

Renting a stair lift is also an option, which can be a good alternative to buying one in situations where the foreseen need is short. The option to rent is only available for straight staircase stair lifts and averages between $200 and $500 / month.


Installing a stair lift can be a very straight-forward, do it yourself project or a very complicated, multi-day project requiring both a professional installer and an electrician. Installations tend to be a lot simpler for straight staircases with adequate clearance at the base and top of the stairway. Though challenging for an elderly individual, younger family members and friends with limited construction experience should be able to handle the most basic installations.

New modular stair lift designs allow for the installation of lift chairs on nearly any type of staircase, regardless of length, width, or curvature.

A variety of factors affect the difficulty, and thus, the cost of a stair lift install. Most professionally installed stair lifts cost between $500 and $1,500 for the labor. Some stair lift manufacturers or resellers include the cost of installation in the purchase price of the product. Factors that affect installation cost include:

  • Length and shape of staircase.
  • Presence of a properly located electrical outlet.
  • Presence of doorways or hallways located near the base and top of the stairway.
  • Construction material of the stairway. Tile, metal, and concrete stairways are more difficult than wooden stairs.
  • Geographic area of the country and the local cost of labor(i.e. San Francisco vs. Kansas).

Alternatives to Stair Lifts

Stair lifts, without financial assistance, can be beyond the reach of many families. Unfortunately, there are very few less expensive alternatives. One option is to install handrails on both sides of the staircase. This narrows the staircase considerably, allowing stair climbers to stabilize themselves from both sides simultaneously. The handrails should extend one foot beyond the top and bottom of the stairway. Though obviously not perfect, this solution should cost less than $200 installed.

A second option is sliding stair rails. These are grab bars, which slide and lock into position in front of the stair climber and move along as they climb or descend. One manufacturer of these products is called StairAid. StairAids, though still fairly expensive, cost approximately 50 percent less than an electric stair lift.

A third option is Stair Blocks. These are blocks approximately one-foot-wide, the width of a stair and one-half the height of a stair. A block is placed on each step and when a user climbs, they alternate between the regular stair and the block. Stair blocks make climbing easier, but the individual still must climb and may still experience a fall.See a video.

Lastly, there are vertical or inclined platform lifts, perhaps better thought of as elevator lifts. Typically, these cost more than stair lifts but can accommodate persons confined to wheelchairs. Learn more.

At a minimum, attention to the lighting and surface texture of stairs can reduce the risk of falling while using staircases.

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Stair Lift Manufacturers

Some common manufacturers of stair lifts are included here to aid the reader in further research.

  • Acorn
  • AmeriGlide
  • Bruno
  • Handicare
  • Harmar
  • MediTek
  • Sterling
  • Stannah
  • Thyssen-Krupp is committed to providing information, resources, and services — free of charge to consumers — that help seniors and their families make better decisions about senior living and care.We may receive business-to-business compensation from senior care partnerships and/or website advertising. This compensation doesn’t dictate our research and editorial content, nor how we manage our consumer reviews program. independently researches the products and services that our editorial team suggests for readers. Advertising and partnerships can impact how and where products, services, and providers are shown on our website, including the order in which they appear, but they don’t determine which services or products get assessed by our team, nor which consumer reviews get published or declined.PayingForSeniorCare awards some companies with badges and awards based on our editorial judgment. We don’t receive compensation for these badges/awards: a service provider or product owner may not purchase the award designation or badge.

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Paying for Stair Lifts - Medicare's Policy & Other Financial Assistance (2024)


Paying for Stair Lifts - Medicare's Policy & Other Financial Assistance? ›

Medicare's Policy on Stair Lifts

Does Medicare cover lift for stairs? ›

Medicare does not consider a stair lift to be Durable Medical Equipment. This is because a stair lift attaches to the treads of the steps. Therefore, Medicare identifies a stair lift as a Home Modification. Medicare does not cover Home Modifications of any type.

Are chair lifts covered under Medicare? ›

Yes, Medicare Part B does cover some of the costs of a lift chair. However, there are 2 important factors to consider: Part B only helps pay for the lifting device, not the chair itself. For example, the lifting device coverage does not include fabric, cushions or any accessories like heat foam or massage pads.

Does AARP cover stair lifts? ›

Unfortunately, no, insurance does not cover stair lifts in the majority of cases. Common Medicare Advantage providers that customers believe may cover stair lifts include AARP, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Aetna, United Healthcare, Cigna, and Humana.

Does Blue Cross Blue Shield cover stair lifts? ›

Devices and equipment used for environmental accommodation such as, but not limited to, chair lifts, stair lifts, home elevators, standing frames, and ramps are specifically excluded under most health benefit plans.

How much is a basic stair lift? ›

A straight Acorn stairlift will typically start at around £1,900 compared to £3,700 for a curved Acorn startlift. If you should require a stairlift for outdoor use, Acorn can cater to your needs; however, you should expect to pay more as these models are built to deal with the rigours of outdoor life.

Does Medicare pay for recliners for seniors? ›

Are Recliner Lift Chairs Covered by Medicare? The motorized lift mechanism of the lift chair or seat-lift chair is a Medicare-covered item. If you qualify, Medicare may cover up to 80 percent of the approved amount for the seat lift mechanism.

Is a chair lift deductible as a medical expense? ›

You may consider a lift medically necessary for you or a loved one, but for it to be tax deductible, a doctor must provide written documentation that it's a medical necessity.

What is the average cost of an acorn stairlift? ›

What is the average cost of an Acorn stair lift? Straight stair lifts start at $3,000–$4,000 with installation, while curved stair lifts start at $10,000–$13,000, so they vary in price depending on the type of lift you buy. People normally spend about $4,000 for straight lifts, and about $12,000 for curved lifts.

Who funds stair lifts? ›

Our research indicates that local governments provide grants for disabled facilities that help towards the cost of installing a stairlift. However, these grants are means-tested, meaning the financial aid you receive depends on your household's income and savings.

Are stair lifts worth it? ›

Stair lifts are home mobility solutions for safer stair navigation. Whether they're used temporarily or permanently, they're a good option if you're at risk for falls, and can help you stay safer in the home. Although stair lifts can be costly, there are ways to save by buying used or renting.

Does United Healthcare Medicare Advantage cover stair lifts? ›

You're responsible for the full cost of the stairlift since Medicare doesn't cover them. Depending on your needs, you can expect a stairlift and installation to cost between $2,000 and $6,000.

What is the medical code for stair lift? ›

HCPCS code S5165 is to be used for Stair Lift authorization requests.

Does Lowe's sell stair lifts? ›

What types of home accessibility products does Lowe's offer? Lowe's offers indoor and outdoor stair lifts and entryway ramps, as well as threshold and portable ramps.

Can anyone install a stair lift? ›

You should always enlist a professional to install your stairlift as they are aware of the step-by-step practices it takes to safely install all types of stairlifts.

Can I claim for a stair lift? ›

If you are concerned about being able to afford a stairlift you may be able to apply for a government-funded grant from your local authority called a Disabled Facilities Grant. With a stairlift grant, you can gain independence at home without paying the full cost for the mobility equipment you need.

What is the difference between a stair lift and a wheelchair lift? ›

Stair lifts are designed more for those who use walkers or other collapsible assistive walking devices, whereas chair lifts are designed to carry both wheelchair and person at the same time.

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