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Knee brace for sale in pharmacy store does Medicare cover braces

Does Medicare Cover Braces?

Imagine waking up one morning to a stiffness in your knee that just won’t go away, or perhaps a lingering pain in your wrist that makes daily tasks a struggle. For many seniors, these aren’t just hypothetical scenarios; they’re everyday realities that prompt them to seek relief through orthopedic braces. 

These pieces of equipment offer a huge improvement for those with joint pain or injuries. They provide protection and support in various designs, like hinged, wraparound, or custom braces. Additionally, they may come with compression to enhance mobility and reduce discomfort.

This is not just about alleviating pain or regaining mobility; it’s about reclaiming independence and the ability to enjoy life’s simple pleasures without being held back. And that’s where understanding the nuances of Medicare becomes pivotal. As a Medicare beneficiary, knowing your coverage options can make all the difference in accessing the support and equipment you need.

With over 40 years of experience, The Medicare Family offers unparalleled expertise and a commitment to helping seniors across all 50 states find the right Medicare plans. Whether you’re curious about your eligibility for orthopedic braces or looking for comprehensive coverage, we’re here to demystify the process for you. Schedule your FREE call today to get expert advice and access to the top choices where you live.

What Are Orthopedic Braces?

Orthopedic braces are medical devices designed to address and manage skeletal and muscular issues, providing support, stabilization, and correcting orthopedic abnormalities. They play a crucial role in recovery from fractures, surgeries, and injuries, as well as in the management of chronic conditions such as arthritis and osteoarthritis. 

These braces come in various forms, including leg braces, knee braces, back supports, wrist braces, and ankle supports, tailored to meet specific needs. They work by immobilizing and protecting the affected area, reducing pain, enhancing mobility, and aiding in the rehabilitation process. 

Orthopedic braces are a key component of treatment plans, often recommended by healthcare professionals to ensure optimal recovery and improve the quality of life for individuals facing orthopedic challenges.

Necessity of Orthopedic Braces

Orthopedic braces play a critical role in the management and rehabilitation of various musculoskeletal conditions that commonly affect seniors. These devices are designed to provide support, stabilize joints, correct alignment, reduce pain, and prevent further injury. 

Whether it’s a knee brace that aids in the recovery post-surgery, a back brace that provides lumbar support and assists in the healing process of chronic pain, or a wrist brace that stabilizes the joint and promotes healing in cases of sprains or carpal tunnel syndrome, the necessity of orthopedic braces and their ability to improve range of motion cannot be overstated. They are integral in allowing individuals to maintain mobility and quality of life, facilitating recovery, and, in many cases, avoiding the need for more invasive treatments.

Overview of Medicare Coverage for Durable Medical Equipment (DME)

Physiotherapist fixing knee braces of senior man leg with sitting on the wheelchair, Medical and healthcare concept

Medicare coverage for Durable Medical Equipment (DME) is designed to support beneficiaries who need medical devices for use in their homes. This category includes a wide range of equipment such as wheelchairs, walkers, and indeed, orthopedic braces. Orthopedic braces, classified under DME, are covered by Medicare Part B, provided they are prescribed by a healthcare provider for a medical reason.

To qualify for coverage, the equipment must meet several criteria: it must be durable, used for a medical reason, not usually useful to someone who isn’t sick or injured, used in your home, and expected to last for at least three years. The specifics of what is covered can vary based on the individual’s situation, the type of equipment needed, and the prescribing medical provider’s recommendations.

Medicare typically pays for 80% of the approved amount for DME after the Part B deductible is met, leaving the beneficiary responsible for the remaining 20%. 

Beneficiaries need to purchase or rent their DME from suppliers that are enrolled in Medicare to ensure coverage. This system ensures that Medicare beneficiaries have access to the essential equipment they need to manage their health conditions effectively, providing support and stability to improve their quality of life.

Are There Any Out-of-Pocket Costs Associated with Orthopedic Braces?

doctor patient medical wrist brace

When it comes to covering the costs of orthopedic braces under Medicare, beneficiaries often face some out-of-pocket expenses. These costs can include the Part B deductible, which must be met before Medicare begins to pay its share, and then 20% of the Medicare-approved amount for the Durable Medical Equipment (DME), which includes orthopedic braces.

The actual amount you may owe can vary depending on several factors:

  • The purchase price of the brace: Orthopedic braces come in various price ranges, and Medicare covers up to 80% of the approved amount.
  • Whether your provider and DME supplier accept Medicare assignment: Suppliers who accept Medicare assignment agree to charge no more than the Medicare-approved amount, minimizing your out-of-pocket expenses.
  • Any additional insurance: If you have a Medigap (Medicare Supplement Insurance) policy, it may cover some or all of the remaining 20% that Medicare doesn’t pay.
  • Medicare Advantage Plans: If you’re enrolled in a Medicare Advantage Plan (Part C), your costs may differ. These plans must cover everything Original Medicare covers, but they can charge different copays, coinsurances, and deductibles. It’s important to check with your plan to understand your specific out-of-pocket costs for orthopedic braces.

To manage and minimize these out-of-pocket expenses, beneficiaries should:

  • Ensure that both their healthcare provider and the DME supplier are enrolled in Medicare and accept Medicare assignment.
  • Consider the benefits of additional insurance policies like Medigap.
  • For those with Medicare Advantage, understand the specific terms of your plan regarding DME coverage.

Being aware of these potential costs and how to navigate them is crucial for Medicare beneficiaries seeking support through orthopedic braces, ensuring they can access necessary equipment without facing unexpected financial burdens.

Are custom-made orthopedic braces covered differently than standard ones by Medicare?

Yes, custom-made orthopedic braces are covered differently by Medicare. While standard braces are usually covered under durable medical equipment (DME), custom braces may be considered orthotics and fall under a separate category with specific coverage guidelines and requirements.

Navigating Medicare Coverage for Orthopedic Braces

As we’ve explored, Medicare does provide coverage under DME for orthopedic braces, subject to certain conditions and with potential out-of-pocket costs. Navigating this coverage requires a clear understanding of Medicare rules, the types of braces covered, and how to ensure you’re working with Medicare-approved providers to minimize unexpected expenses.

For seniors and Medicare beneficiaries, the journey to accessing necessary orthopedic support doesn’t have to be complicated. At The Medicare Family, we stand ready to guide you through the intricacies of Medicare coverage for orthopedic braces. Our licensed agents are well-versed in all aspects of Medicare and are equipped to offer personalized advice that considers your specific health needs and financial situation.

Schedule an appointment with us today, and take the first step towards securing the right Medicare plan that includes coverage for the orthopedic braces essential to your mobility and quality of life. Let us be your trusted partner, ensuring you can focus on what truly matters – your health and well-being.


What do I do if my orthopedic brace needs repair or replacement?

If your Medicare-covered brace needs repair or replacement, contact your DME provider. Medicare may cover repairs or replacements depending on the circumstances and if the equipment is no longer under warranty.

Does Medicare cover the fitting appointment for an orthopedic brace?

Medicare coverage can include the fitting of orthopedic braces if deemed medically necessary and part of your prescribed treatment plan. Always verify with your healthcare provider and Medicare plan.

Can I choose any type of orthopedic brace, or does it have to be a specific kind?

Medicare covers braces that are medically necessary. Your healthcare provider will recommend a specific type based on your condition. Coverage might not extend to all brace types, so consultation with your provider and checking with Medicare is advised.

Sylvia Gordon, aka Medicare Mama®, is an expert on all things Medicare and Social Security. She is the 2nd Generation here at The Medicare Family and has served on the advisory boards of major insurance companies like UnitedHealthcare®, Cigna, and Anthem. In her free time, she can be found taking care of her animals (dogs, goats, peacocks, chickens), and reading a good book. Learn More.
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