Medicare Coverage of Therapeutic Footwear for People with Diabetes

Medicare provides coverage for depth-inlay shoes, custom-molded shoes, and shoe inserts for people with diabetes who qualify under Medicare Part B. Designed to prevent lower-limb ulcers and amputations in people who have diabetes, this Medicare benefit can prevent suffering and save money.

How Individuals Qualify

The M.D. or D.O. treating the patient for diabetes must certify that the individual:

1. Has diabetes.

2. Has one or more of the following conditions in one or both feet:

  • history of partial or complete foot amputation
  • history of previous foot ulceration
  • history of preulcerative callus
  • nerve damage because of diabetes with signs of problems with calluses
  • poor circulation
  • foot deformity

3. Is being treated under a comprehensive diabetes care plan and needs therapeutic shoes and/or inserts because of diabetes.

Type of Footwear Covered

If an individual qualifies, he/she is limited to one of the following footwear categories within one calendar year:

1. One pair of depth-inlay shoes and three pairs of inserts

2. One pair of custom-molded shoes (including inserts) and two additional pairs of inserts.

Separate inserts may be covered under certain criteria. Shoe modification is covered as a substitute for an insert, and a custom-molded shoe is covered when the individual has a foot deformity that cannot be accommodated by a depth shoe.

Meeting Medicare Requirements

In order to receive payment for therapeutic shoes and inserts, Medicare also requires:

  1. A podiatrist or other qualified doctor to prescribe the shoes
  2. A doctor or other qualified professional, such as a pedorthist, orthotist, or prosthetist fits and provides the shoes

Note that in most cases the certifying physician and the prescribing physician will be two different individuals.

Patient Responsibility for Payment

Medicare will pay for 80% of the Medicare-approved amount either directly to the patient or by reimbursement after the Part B deductible is met. The patient is responsible for a minimum of 20% of the total payment amount and possibly more if the dispenser does not accept Medicare assignment and if the dispenser's usual fee is higher than the payment amount. 

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Sarah Goodell on May 31, 2018

Sources

Medicare.gov: Medicare’s Coverage of Diabetes Supplies & Services.

The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases of The National Institutes of Health. Publication: Feet Can Last a Lifetime: Medicare Coverage of Therapeutic Footwear for People with Diabetes. 1998. 

© 2018 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.