A conversion van is the name that is given to vehicles that are specially adapted to make them accessible for power wheelchair users.
Owning a conversion van or a vehicle that can be used to transport someone in an electric wheelchair is important. It’s easier to get in and out of the van for those who are in a power wheelchair. There are no cumbersome seat transfers or folding and unfolding. It makes it safer for wheelchair users to get in and out of the vehicle as well. It’s also more comfortable for both the patient and the caregiver. Depending on how the transfer is performed, it can put pressure on the back or shoulders, but a conversion van will help eliminate some of these issues. Riders can remain in the electric wheelchair for a more comfortable ride with tie downs to keep the wheelchair in place.
Typically, conversions and wheelchair vans aren’t covered under Medicaid or Medicare. However, rules can vary by state so it’s best to check with your health insurance program to see if you can get coverage. Medicare will cover durable medical equipment (DME) that is medically necessary. DME must be durable, used for a medical reason, used in the home, and will have an expected lifetime of at least three years. Determining if something is medically necessary can be strict, but there are could be an instance that a doctor could recommend a wheelchair van as being medically necessary.
Even if Medicare won’t cover the expense and you are looking for a way to pay for modifications to your current vehicle, there are ways to make this more affordable. There are organizations and grant funding programs that exist in every state to help those with disabilities get the required equipment. Many U.S. veterans can qualify for grants and funding through Veteran’s Affairs. Look at all your options. There are new vehicles available, but you can also consider pre-owned vehicles or converting a van you already have as affordable options.
It’s possible to convert an already owned vehicle into a wheelchair accessible van. The process can be quite lengthy, but it can be done. Full size vans, as well as minivans, can be converted. Conversions that are offered include wheelchair van transfer seats, wheelchair van hand controls, wheelchair van securements, and tie downs. Depending on the vehicle, there can be up to 40 different alterations available to convert. The first step is to remove the existing seating and interior panels. Once seats are removed, then the floor is lowered and custom interior paneling is installed. A high strength ramp is then installed in either the passenger side area or the rear. Ramps can be available as in-floor options or foldouts, depending on the vehicle. There are many companies that will help you through a wheelchair van conversion and do offer financing. Some of the best vehicles for conversion include the Chrysler Pacifica and the Ford Explorer. Converting a vehicle can cost $20,000 above the cost of the vehicle, but there are other features that can affect the overall price, both increasing and decreasing. Choosing the entry at the rear or the side can affect the cost, but the decision should be based on the needs of the wheelchair user.