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Tips for Buying a Mobility Scooter

Saturday, August 13th

Tips for Buying a Mobility Scooter

Mobility scooters and powered wheelchairs are alternatives to manual wheelchairs. They provide a greater level of independence to people who have difficulty walking, standing, or propelling themselves in a manual chair. Here are some tips to consider when shopping for a powered wheelchair or scooter.

List your needs; do you need assistance only when you leave your house, or do you need to be able to get around in your own home? If you can get around your home okay by yourself and only need a scooter for going out, where are you likely to go?

  • Shopping at the mall?
  • Visiting the park to see your grandchildren play sports?
  • Vacationing across the country?

What can you afford? How much will your insurance cover? Research whether Medicare will cover the chair or scooter and talk to your doctor about a prescription. Some scooter or power chair providers will help you with your Medicare paperwork.

Think about the logistics of using a scooter or chair. When you park a scooter to get on or off, you never know from which side you might need to mount or dismount. Look for a seat that swivels both left and right so that it can face either direction for easier mounting and dismounting. At the same time, make sure that you can easily swivel the seat forward into the driving position by yourself.

Most of the time, four wheels are more stable than three. On the other hand, three wheels might be more maneuverable on uneven terrain. Also, depending on where you are likely to go with your scooter or chair, you must strike a balance between higher ground clearance for terrain versus being low enough to get on and off easily.

There is a big difference in tires:

  • Wide pneumatic tires offer comfort and stability, especially on rougher terrain. But the air pressure must be checked periodically.
  • Solid tires require no maintenance but might only be suitable for hard surfaces, like pavement.

You also need to consider the necessary maintenance of a scooter or chair. Will you be able to handle these maintenance requirements, like cleaning the scooter or plugging in the battery? Is there someone who will be able to do those things for you if you cannot?

Traveling with a scooter or chair is also a consideration. While some smaller chairs or scooters can be folded and fit in the trunk of a car, others might have to be taken apart. Larger scooters can be broken down into pieces for transporting, but this might not be an easy task. Some parts can be heavy.

And finally, after you purchase a chair or scooter, will someone from the company help "fit" (make adjustments to) your machine for you? What kind of training (either for maintenance or traveling) is offered by the company? Is this support provided at time of delivery?

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Mobility Scooter Company FAQ

For people who have difficulty with getting around (due to age, illness, or other reasons), mobility scooters represent freedom. You've probably seen them in use at theme parks, at the grocery store, and other locations that require a lot of walking. Mobility scooters differ from power wheelchairs in that they are operated more like a moped, and users need to be able to get on and off.
Most scooters are classified by style and use. For example, you can get folding scooters if you don't have a rack for transporting a full-size scooter on your vehicle, travel scooters for vacations, scooters for indoor/outdoor use, and so forth.
As you shop for a scooter, your first considerations will probably be practical. What is the intended usage? Do you need a model with a higher rider weight capacity? Do you prefer three wheels or four? From there, it's time to have fun: accessories range from cup holders to flags, canopies for frequent outdoor trips in sunny weather, and beyond.
Mobility scooters range from $500 to over $7000. Be sure to read the fine print to determine what is included in your base price: some scooters come with a free charger and battery, but others require you to purchase them in addition to the cost of the scooter.
Many retailers of mobility scooters include delivery in the retail price. If you want "white glove delivery" that covers the assembly and setup of your scooter, expect to pay $100 to $200 for the service.
Medicare Part B considers mobility scooters as "durable medical equipment". If your physician writes an order confirming that you have a medical need for a scooter, you will qualify. Medicare covers 80% of the cost, and the remaining 20% is your responsibility (though that portion could be covered by a Medigap plan, if you have one). Similar terms apply if you have coverage through Medicaid.
Yes, mobility scooters usually have warranty coverage, both through the manufacturer and the retailer. The warranty period is typically a year and includes in-home technician visits if needed. You may also be able to purchase an extended warranty for longer coverage.
Return policies vary by retailer. Most have a period ranging from 15 to 30 days in which you can send your scooter back; however, hefty restocking fees of up to 25% of the purchase price could be a deterrent. You may have to pay for return shipping fees as well.
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