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Does Medicare Cover Knee Replacement Surgery?

  • Medicare with Melissa

As the population ages and joint-related conditions become increasingly prevalent, knee replacement surgery has emerged as a common treatment option if you’re suffering from severe arthritis or debilitating injuries. Understanding whether Medicare provides coverage for this procedure is essential if you want to make the most of your healthcare benefits. In this article, we’ll explore the criteria for Medicare coverage, the different parts of Medicare that may apply, potential out-of-pocket costs, and additional considerations to keep in mind.

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What is Knee Replacement Surgery?

Knee replacement surgery, also known as knee arthroplasty, is a procedure that helps restore the function of severely diseased or damaged knee joints. The most common reason for this surgery is to relieve severe pain caused by osteoarthritis. This condition occurs when the cartilage that cushions your knee bones wears down over time, causing the bones to rub against each other and resulting in pain and swelling.

During the surgery, the surgeon removes the damaged bone and cartilage from your thigh bone, shinbone, and kneecap, replacing it with an artificial joint made from metal and plastic. This artificial joint, or prosthesis, helps to reduce pain and improve mobility.

Recovery time from knee replacement surgery varies from person to person, but you’ll likely stay in the hospital for a few days post-surgery. You’ll then undergo a rehabilitation process, which includes physical therapy to help regain strength and mobility in your knee. This might take a few months, but most people are able to return to their normal daily activities within six weeks.

One crucial thing to remember is that while a knee replacement can significantly reduce pain and enhance quality of life, it’s still an artificial joint, and it might not have the full range or feel of a natural knee. But if you’ve been living with chronic knee pain, this surgery could be a game-changer for you. It’s all about weighing the benefits and potential downsides and making the decision that’s best for you.

Medicare Coverage for Knee Replacement Surgery

Before we get into the specifics of Medicare coverage, let’s get the big question out of the way: “Does Medicare cover knee replacement surgery?” The answer is “Yes” if you meet the eligibility requirements (more on this later). Just keep in mind the exact coverage might change based on where you get the surgery done.

Medicare is divided into parts: Part A, Part B, and Part D. Each part covers different aspects of your healthcare needs. Part A covers hospital stays, while Part B covers outpatient services, including doctor’s visits and preventive care. Part D is for prescription drugs.

So, where does knee replacement surgery fit into all of this? If your knee surgery is done as an inpatient procedure (meaning you stay in the hospital), Medicare Part A will provide coverage. If you go for outpatient surgery (meaning you don’t need to stay overnight in the hospital), then Medicare Part B will cover the costs.

It’s important to remember that while Medicare helps with the cost of knee replacement, it doesn’t pay for everything. You’ll still have to cover your deductible, copays, and coinsurance, which are expenses you need to pay as part of your healthcare costs.

Eligibility for Knee Replacement Surgery Under Medicare

To determine eligibility for knee replacement surgery under Medicare, there are several factors to consider. Medicare coverage for knee replacement surgery is available for beneficiaries who meet specific criteria:

Medicare Part A and Part B Enrollment: You must be enrolled in both Medicare Part A (hospital insurance) and Part B (medical insurance) to be eligible for knee replacement surgery coverage.

Medical Necessity: Knee replacement surgery must be deemed medically necessary by a healthcare professional. This means that the surgery is required to address a documented medical condition affecting the knee joint, such as severe arthritis or injury, and non-surgical treatments have been unsuccessful or are not feasible.

Physician Recommendation: Your healthcare provider, usually an orthopedic surgeon, must determine that knee replacement surgery is appropriate and necessary for your specific condition.

Prior Authorization: Prior authorization may be required for knee replacement surgery under Medicare. Your healthcare provider will need to submit relevant medical records and documentation to support the medical necessity of the procedure.

It is crucial to consult with your healthcare provider and Medicare directly to confirm your eligibility and understand the specific coverage details for your knee replacement surgery under Medicare.

What Costs Are Included in Knee Replacement Surgery?

Understanding the costs associated with knee replacement surgery can help you plan and prevent any surprise bills. Knee replacement surgeries are usually performed as inpatient procedures. Medicare Part A covers inpatient hospital stays, including the costs of surgery, meals, general nursing, drugs as part of your inpatient treatment, and other hospital services. After meeting the Part A deductible (which is $1,600 in 2023), Medicare covers 100% of these costs for up to 60 days in the hospital.

Medicare Part B covers doctor’s services, including those provided by surgeons, anesthesiologists, and any necessary outpatient care. After meeting the Part B deductible (which is $226 in 2023), you generally pay 20% of the Medicare-approved amount for these services. This includes visits to the doctor before and after surgery, rehabilitation appointments, and any necessary durable medical equipment like walkers or canes.

If you have a standalone Medicare Part D plan or a Medicare Advantage plan that includes drug coverage, your post-surgery prescription medications will generally be covered under that plan. Each plan has its own list of covered drugs (formulary), so costs can vary depending on the specific medications prescribed.

Once the surgery is over, you’ll likely need rehabilitation or physical therapy, home health care, or skilled nursing facility care. Medicare generally covers these services, but you may still be responsible for some costs, such as coinsurance or copayments.

Lastly, you might need durable medical equipment, like a walker or wheelchair, while you recover. Medicare Part B typically covers these costs, but you’ll usually pay 20% of the Medicare-approved amount.

Alternative Treatments for Knee Conditions Covered by Medicare

Knee replacement surgery is a major procedure, and it’s not the only option for treating knee pain. Medicare covers several alternatives, too.

One alternative is knee gel injections, sometimes called viscosupplementation. These injections use hyaluronic acid to help lubricate the joint, reducing pain and improving mobility. Medicare covers these injections, although your out-of-pocket costs can vary depending on whether you have them in a doctor’s office (covered by Part B) or a hospital outpatient setting (covered by Part A).

Another treatment option is a genicular nerve block, which is a type of nerve block that can help relieve knee pain. Medicare also covers this procedure. Other treatments like Coolief, Iovera, and various types of injections (Synvisc, Orthovisc, Euflexxa, etc.) are also covered.

Additional Coverage Options for Knee Replacement Surgery

Even with Medicare Parts A and B, you’ll still have out-of-pocket costs for knee replacement surgery. To help cover these costs, you might consider Medicare Advantage or a Medicare Supplement Plan.

Medicare Advantage, also known as Medicare Part C, is a type of plan offered by private insurance companies that contract with Medicare. These plans often include extra benefits and have different out-of-pocket costs than Original Medicare. Depending on your plan, your out-of-pocket costs for knee replacement surgery could be lower with Medicare Advantage.

Medicare Supplement Plans, also known as Medigap, can also help cover out-of-pocket costs. These plans are also offered by private insurance companies and can help cover costs like deductibles, copays, and coinsurance.

For more information about all the benefits of Medicare Advantage and Medicare Supplement Plans, please speak with a Senior Healthcare Solutions Medicare expert at 866-MEDIGAP (866-633-4427).


Knee replacement surgery can be life-changing, especially if you’re struggling with chronic knee pain. Thankfully Original Medicare provides extensive coverage for knee replacement surgery if it’s medically necessary. However, you’ll still be responsible for all deductibles, copays, and coinsurance expenses. It’s recommended to consult with your healthcare provider to determine if you meet all the criteria for coverage, so you can minimize any out-of-pocket expenses.

Need more personalized guidance? You don’t have to navigate these complexities on your own. At Senior Healthcare Solutions, we’re here to help. Our experienced team can help answer your questions, explain your options, and guide you through the maze of Medicare. So why wait? Give us a call today at 866-MEDIGAP (866-633-4427) and let us help you make the best healthcare decisions for your unique situation.

Meet Melissa MacCalla

Medicare is not simple and can be hard, frustrating, and downright confusing for most. I love when I get someone on the phone and I am given the opportunity to explain the difference in plans to them and have Medicare make sense. I enjoy talking to clients year after year, hearing about their families growing or them asking about mine.


Oh my gosh!! I was so confused about the Medicare Supplement process. I am turning 65 soon and am retired and have always had insurance thru my former employer. I didn’t know a thing about going on Medicare and was struggling to sort it all out.

A friend of mine recommended contacting Senior HealthCare Solutions, so I did. Melissa was FANTASTIC!! She was professional, responsive, caring and friendly. She explained the steps I needed to take, gathered my information, helped me choose good plans for MY specific needs and took care of my applications over the phone. 1-2-3, eesy-peesy and I was done!! And it didn’t cost me a DIME!!! WOW!!! I HIGHLY recommend Senior Healthcare Solutions for anyone who’s overwhelmed with making the right choices with Medicare Supplemental Insurance and Rx coverage. It’ll take a load off your mind!

Janice W.

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