Why are walk-in tubs so expensive?

Ease of use comes with a cost

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Boca Walk-In Tubs
walk-in bathtub in a sleek modern bathroom

You’re thinking about having a walk-in tub installed in your or your loved one’s home but wondering why they’re so pricey.

Walk-in tubs provide a sense of safety and comfort when mobility or balance is an issue. Stepping over a typical tub’s ledge can cause falls, not to mention the aches and pains that happen when a caregiver needs to bend over to help with bathing. Walk-in tubs are beneficial in alleviating this issue and can range in price from as little as $2,000 to upwards of $20,000 or more. Some experts put the numbers even higher.

But there’s a lot that goes into the cost of a walk-in tub. Here’s what you need to consider.


Key insights

Added safety and luxury features, material type and any required home modifications can affect the price of a walk-in tub.

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Basic soaking tubs from medium- to high-end companies that provide lifetime warranties range in price from $7,000 to $10,000. Luxury walk-in tubs can range from $15,000 to $30,000, according to Dominic Telymonde, vice president of sales for Boca.

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Installation for a walk-in tub usually costs a few thousand dollars.

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What makes walk-in tubs so pricey?

A standard tub is usually a little over a foot deep. A walk-in tub, on the other hand, can measure around 3.5 feet deep. While they usually take up the same amount of space in your bathroom, they’re much taller. Walk-in tubs also feature all kinds of safety features and perks, like grab bars, quick fill and drain times, built-in seats, heated backrests and more.

Some of the biggest cost factors for walk-in tubs are size, material type and the installation requirements. These decisions come down to your needs and preferences as well as your bathroom’s capacity.

The brand you work with also matters. There are cheap, do-it-yourself walk-in tubs available on the market, but even a basic walk-in tub from a medium- to high-end company with a solid lifetime warranty could run you $7,000 to $10,000 or more. Dominic Telymonde, vice president of sales for Boca, a walk-in tub manufacturer, explained in an email that luxury models may cost up to $15,000 to $30,000.

What to consider when buying a walk-in tub

There’s a range of walk-in tub price points due to the many available customizations and features. You’ll definitely want to consider the following to start.

Installation costs

“Walk-in tub installation costs range from about $2,000 to $4,000, though most average $3,000 or less,” according to Telymonde. “If installing your walk-in tub requires you to get larger pipes or a wall surround, installation costs will go up. You’ll also have to pay for labor costs, which may or may not include the removal of the old tub,” he said.

Another manufacturer, Safe Step, puts the installation cost range higher, at $3,000 to $10,000, according to its website as of publishing.

Type

The type of walk-in tub you choose will depend on your needs and how much you can afford to spend. There are bariatric tubs, hydrotherapy tubs and tubs designed for two people to use at the same time. A larger tub will cost more than a standard-size walk-in tub.

Materials

Most walk-in tubs are made of either fiberglass or acrylic. Fiberglass is usually lower in cost. Acrylic is more durable and long-lasting, but the price tag is higher.

Features

Depending on what you’re looking for, walk-in tubs can have the most basic features, or they can come with all the bells and whistles. Certain features come standard, such as overflow protection, according to Jamin Katzer, senior construction manager and senior estimator at Earth Saving Solutions, a general contracting company.

Some features to add on could include:

  • Quick filling and draining technology to fill and drain faster than the usual 15 minutes
  • Door modifications, including doors that swing outward rather than inward
  • Customized grab bars in case the standard placement of bars doesn’t work for the user
  • Heated seats and backrests

Does Medicare or Medicaid pay for walk-in tubs?

Walk-in tubs can be a necessity to take a bath safely when you have certain medical conditions or are at the risk of falling. While Medicare can help pay for equipment such as hospital beds, patient lifts and wheelchairs, it can be difficult to get coverage for a walk-in tub.

As of publishing, Medicare doesn’t provide any coverage for a walk-in tub under Parts A and B. It’s typically not considered durable medical equipment (DME) or devices and equipment used to help manage health conditions. You can submit a claim for reimbursement for your walk-in tub if it’s medically necessary, but these often aren’t approved.

Medicaid programs vary by state, so it’s worth checking with your state office about coverage for walk-in tubs.

» MORE: How to get financial assistance for a walk-in tub

Ways to pay for a walk-in tub

Most insurances won’t cover the cost of a walk-in tub, but there are some options available to help finance or offset the cost:

  • Payment plans: Many companies offer payment plans for their walk-in tubs.
  • Company discounts: Pay attention to sales and discounts on company websites to find out when a walk-in tub may be cheaper to buy.
  • VA benefits: You may get a housing grant from the VA if you’re a veteran to modify your home because of a disability.
  • Home Repair Program: The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Home Repair Program might help with loans or grants for accessibility modifications if you have a low income.
  • Community programs: Nonprofits such as Habitat for Humanity’s Aging in Place program may be able to help pay for a walk-in tub.

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Bottom line

Walk-in tubs have a lot of benefits when it comes to safety and convenience, but they come with a higher price tag than standard tubs. There are some ways to help offset the cost, but these may not provide enough monetary support to make these devices accessible to everyone. If walk-in tubs are out of reach financially, you can look into other alternatives, such as bath lifts and transfer benches.

» COMPARE: Best Walk-In Tubs


Article sources

ConsumerAffairs writers primarily rely on government data, industry experts and original research from other reputable publications to inform their work. Specific sources for this article include:

  1. Medicare.gov, “Durable medical equipment (DME) coverage.” Accessed May 27, 2024.
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