Choosing the right diabetic shoes

by the Editor, SeniorInsider | Jun 21, 2011

If you have diabetes and have had trouble with your feet or finding shoes that allow you to walk comfortably, you may want to look into Medicare’s program that was made possible by the passage of the Therapeutic Shoe Bill.

The bill allows seniors to get specially designed and fitted diabetic shoes and inserts that will reduce pain as well as the friction and pressure that causes sores to develop.

As you know, diabetic shoes are essential for those seniors who have diabetes. Wounds in diabetics don’t heal readily and infections are common. Often, this can lead to costly amputations. The bill was created to reduce the number of amputations and to provide seniors with diabetic shoes that are extra deep and which have a special insert that reduces pressure and friction on the bottom of the foot.

How the Program Works


Under the program, seniors can quality for a pair of diabetic shoes plus three pairs of inserts once a year or one pair of custom shoes and two additional inserts. You need to be under a doctor’s care and be involved in a comprehensive treatment program for your diabetes as well as have one of the following conditions:

  • Partial or complete amputation of the foot
  • Past foot ulcers, calluses or corns that are leading to foot ulcers
  • Nerve damage caused by diabetes
  • Poor circulation
  • Foot deformities

The prescription for diabetic shoes is made by your podiatrist. Your primary physician will need to sign off on the need for special shoes. Otherwise, diabetic shoes may not be covered by Medicare and you’ll have to foot the bill yourself.

What to Look For In Diabetic Shoes


When getting diabetic shoes, you want to ensure that you go with a reputable manufacturer. A lot of companies want to get into the business of supplying seniors with diabetic shoes to cash in on the Medicare gold rush, but some of these are substandard and won’t help your condition. In fact, they may do more harm than good.

To prevent this, ask your doctor or podiatrist who they recommend as a vendor. Don’t just rely on the pharmacy or medical supply company to give you a good recommendation. They may have partnerships with companies that aren’t necessarily in this line of business to help diabetic patients.

While getting diabetic shoes through the Medicare program can be complex you can avoid a lot of the approval problems by making sure that you and your doctor follow all the requirements put forth by Medicare. Then you want to make sure that the shoes and inserts themselves are purchased from a reputable company who will back up their products and who have a reputation for quality.

You also want to be sure that your podiatrist and primary physician take the proper measurements for the shoes. The manufacturer can only follow the prescription written by the doctor. They can’t make any changes on their own. That’s why it’s so important to follow the process exactly to ensure that Medicare covers your diabetic shoes and that they have the proper fit. They can help you determine whether a prescription shoe will work for you or if a custom shoe is a better choice.

It’s not recommended that you purchase any shoes over the Internet. You need to make sure that your shoes fit you exactly and you need to work with an experienced shoe fitter to ensure a good fit. It may be tempting to save a few bucks by going online, but you’ll either find that you’re disappointed with the shoes or Medicare rejects the request for reimbursement.

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