Does Medicare Cover Wigs for Cancer-Related Hair Loss?
For many people, hair loss is a side effect of the radiation and chemotherapy treatments they must undergo during their cancer battle.
Chemotherapy drugs attack rapidly growing cancer cells, including hair roots. Some — but not all — chemotherapies may cause hair loss two to four weeks after beginning treatment. During treatment, hair can grow back and fall out all over again. Some radiation therapies can also cause hair loss.
Fortunately, most hair is expected to grow back three to six months after treatment ends. But the experience can add to the trauma of fighting cancer. Hair prosthetics, including wigs, can help someone feel more confident during this time.
Can Medicare Help Pay for Wigs?
While Medicare can help cover much of the costs related to cancer treatment, it generally does not cover the cost of wigs. You’d have to pay for wigs out of pocket, as they are considered to be used for aesthetic purposes and are not considered medically necessary. Paying out of pocket for a high-quality wig can be costly.
At some wig banks and boutiques, you can choose from a selection of natural and synthetic hair. Typically, synthetic wigs cost less than natural wigs. However, natural wigs made from human hair last longer and have more flexibility in styling than synthetic wigs. Just like your own hair, natural human hair wigs can be dyed, cut and styled.
Some synthetic wigs can also be heat-styled to help make them look more natural. You may also have the option to borrow wigs while undergoing cancer treatment.
But wigs are just one of many possible solutions. Someone going through chemotherapy may consider wearing various head coverings, including hats, hoodies and scarves. Having options like these can help give your scalp a break from the complete coverage of a wig and provide another opportunity for self-expression.
How Can I Get Wigs for Free?
Some cancer centers, like the Cleveland Clinic, offer free wigs, scarves and hats.
You can also find other charitable organizations — like Wigs for Kids, or search for local support groups that offer free wigs. Other charitable organizations might include:
LEGAL DISCLAIMER: The above is meant to be strictly educational and not intended to provide medical advice or solicit the sales of an insurance product or service of any kind.