Bunions (also known as hallux abducto valgus) are a painful, debilitating condition caused by a bony protrusion at the base of the big toe. If left untreated, the bunion will continue to grow over time, eventually leading to permanent foot disfigurement. That’s why seeking corrective treatment, including bunion surgery, is essential.

Considering the importance of rectifying this chronic condition, understanding whether Medicare covers bunion treatments is of paramount importance. If your physician or podiatrist has recommended bunion surgery (or another form of treatment), you need to know if Medicare will cover the cost – and what specific surgeries are included in their coverage.

In this post, we’ll answer the question, “does Medicare cover bunion treatments?” We’ll explain the main types of bunion surgery and the other relevant information.

Does Medicare Cover Bunion Treatments

Does Medicare cover bunion treatments?

Yes. Under Medicare Part B, patients are covered for 80% of medically necessary bunion surgical procedures. They’re also covered for any medically necessary supplies either in a doctor’s office or outpatient setting and any visits to see the podiatrist.

However, if you decide to proceed with bunion surgery, you must pay the remaining 20% of the final approved cost. In addition, you may also need to pay a copayment in certain situations, and the Part B deductible will apply.

The average cost of bunion surgery in the United States is approximately $5,500 – although costs can range from $3,500 to $12,000. That means patients can expect to pay anywhere from $700 to $2,400: a sizable amount for most individuals.

The final cost is likely to depend on where you live, your insurance coverage, the type of procedure, and your present state of health.

What are the types of bunion surgery?

The surgical removal of a bunion is known as a bunionectomy. Most commonly, this operation is performed in an outpatient setting, as there is no need for general anesthetic, only local anesthetic. Surgeons typically use an ankle block designed to numb the leg below the knee.

There are more than forty different kinds of bunion removal surgery – the one your surgeon selects will depend on the size and development of the bunion. The three primary bunion removal surgeries include:

  • Osteotomy involves the surgeon cutting the big toe joint and realigning the bone to correct any deformity.

  • Exostectomy involves the surgeon removing the bunion without the subsequent realignment.

  • Arthrodesis involves the wholesale removal of the damaged joint and replacement with screws and metal plates. This operation is selected when other techniques cannot correct the bunion-induced deformity.

Following the surgery, the foot must be protected until the bones have fully healed. Your surgeon or podiatrist will most likely advise wearing a boot or cast and using crutches as walking aids until the foot has fully healed.

Other aftercare instructions include:

  • Elevating the foot for a set period daily.

  • Keep the foot dressing or cast dry during showers by wrapping it in plastic.

  • Monitoring for signs of infection.

  • Prescribing over-the-counter (OTC) pain medication to relieve any postoperative discomfort.

  • Avoid strenuous exercise or physical activity while the foot heals.

Depending on your age, general recovery should occur within six to eight weeks; full recovery can take between four to six months. After you’ve fully recovered, a series of physical therapy sessions are advised to strengthen the now weakened foot and ankle.

How to avoid bunion recurrence

Once your bunion is corrected, you don’t want the bunion to recur. After all, it’s a painful and disabling condition. Nor do you want to ask, “does Medicare cover bunion treatments?” again.

In some rare cases, however, bunion surgery can fail. That could be due to a surgical error, poor healing, or an unknown reason.

Signs and symptoms of a failed bunion surgery include:

  • Shorter big toe

  • Arthritis development in the big toe joint

  • Big toe joint stiffness

  • Bunion recurrence

After the surgery, you should wear comfortable, correctly fitting shoes going forwards. Bunions are primarily caused by ill-fitting footwear that bunches the toes together, e.g., high heels.

Final thoughts

Let’s recap: Does Medicare cover bunion treatment? Yes. Medicare Part B covers 80% of your bunion surgery, alongside any medically necessary supplies and podiatrist visits. The final 20% will either be paid for by the patient or covered by another insurance policy.

In addition to this 20%, patients may also be required to pay copayments for certain medical procedures and visits.

Bunions are a highly treatable podiatric condition affecting tens of millions of Americans annually. Through corrective surgery, people can go on to live a normal, active life.

Speak to our team about bunion surgery if you struggle with this debilitating condition.