Diabetic Footwear



What is the Therapeutic Shoe Bill?

In 1993 the federal government passed this bill that allows physicians to prescribe diabetic shoes and inserts to their at-risk patients with diabetes to reduce the risk of ulcers, amputations, and other diabetes related foot complications. Once enacted, Medicare and some private insurance companies began to pay for up to 80% of these services.

Why is footwear important for people with diabetes ?

Many people with diabetes (especially if not optimally controlled) can develop “peripheral neuropathy” and poor circulation which can lead to various foot complications. Unmanaged diabetes is a leading cause of lower limb amputations.

What is the difference between diabetic shoes and normal, non-diabetic shoes?

Diabetic shoes are often wider and deeper than regular shoes to accommodate a special multi-density insert that is designed to reduce pressure and callouses to the bottom of feet.  Diabetic shoes have a larger “toe box” to prevent squeezing of the toes.

I have diabetes and Medicare. Do I qualify for Diabetic shoes and inserts?

Just having diabetes does not qualify a person to receive this Medicare benefit. Other qualifying conditions and documentation must be met.  For example, a patient must have a secondary condition besides diabetes.  Examples of the secondary conditions are:  foot deformity, measurable poor circulation in the feet, previous amputation, peripheral neuropathy with callus formation, and previous ulceration of the foot.

How often and how much will Medicare pay for diabetic footwear?

Medicare will pay for 80 % of diabetic shoes and inserts each calendar year. Most Medicare supplements will pay the remaining 20%. Medicare requires that the supplier obtain new prescriptions, paperwork, and chart records from the patient’s physician every year.

Do diabetic shoes and inserts really help people with diabetes ?

University of Iowa researchers analyzed Medicare Part B data and showed that between the years 2000 and 2010 claims for amputations and ulcer treatments decreased by 47% compared to the previous 10 years. Likewise the CDC has shown a significant reduction in lower limb amputation for patients with diabetes.  Improvements in patient education, diabetes control, and preventative measures such as diabetic footwear are thought to be the main reasons for these improvements.