Does Medicare cover back braces?

There are a number of reasons why someone could be suffering from back pain. For those with Medicare, there’s good news. Most of Medicare’s plans offer some form of coverage for back braces. These braces can be prescribed by a doctor to help reduce or even eliminate chronic back pain. Here are a few things to know about back braces,and  Medicare coverage if you are considering a brace for your pains.

Advantages of a back brace

For those suffering from back pain, a good brace can help ease the pain caused by certain movements. A brace works by limiting the movement of the back, this allows any damage a chance to heal and helps prevent further injury caused by movement.  By compressing the core, a brace often provides relief to those who feel pressure or pain throughout their intervertebral discs and their spine.

A brace also offers the support many people need to improve posture by supporting the natural curvature and alignment of the spine. Normal posture alignment will help reduce back pains and promote a healthier back.

Since back braces are a non-invasive solution, they are a great choice for those not wanting to undergo a surgical procedure for back pain.

Durable medical equipment

In order to be covered by Medicare a brace needs to be categorized as durable medical equipment. Also referred to as DME, durable medical equipment will usually only be covered by Medicare if it is prescribed to you by a doctor. Other criteria required for coverage includes: the equipment must be long lasting, must be used for a specified medical reason and must be able to be used in the patient’s home.  Many back braces are designed as DME and therefor will be fully or partially covered by Medicare.

How much does Medicare cover?

Although coverage can vary, on average Medicare will pay for 80%  of the costs associated with getting a back brace. It is possible for some individuals to receive their brace at no cost to them based on their plan and specific health needs. When getting a brace, you may want to be prepared to pay for 20% of the bill yourself. Keep in mind that Medicare will usually only approve payment for a back brace once every 5 years, so be sure to ask your doctor about the durability of the brace you are given.

Types of braces

Medicare should cover the majority of the cost for almost all braces that can be categorized at durable medical equipment. This includes hard braces, made from form-fitting plastic that can restrict motion up to 50%, as well as soft braces, elastic braces that limit the spine’s motion. Talk to your doctor to find the best brace for your pains.