How To Get Diabetic Shoes

What is special about diabetic shoes?

Diabetic shoes are different from regular shoes because they have extra depth to accommodate a thicker insert, seamless interior because seams can rub onto the skin, and bigger toe box to accommodate for hammertoes which people with neuropathy can get. The most important thing is the extra depth, because it allows us to use a multi-layer insole. The more layers an insole has, the more it can reduce shear, because shear forces cause diabetic foot ulcers.

Regular shoes
Regular shoes which accommodates a single layer insert
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Diabetic shoes have extra depth and bigger toe box which accommodates multilayer inserts to reduce friction on the skin

Who qualifies for and how do I get diabetic shoes?

Medicare insurance covers most of the costs for diabetic shoes. You get one pair of shoes and up to three pairs of special inserts every year. To get this benefit, you have to meet the qualification criteria.

1) Have diabetes.

2) Have had at least one of the following:

  • Foot preulcerative callus, foot ulcer, or toe/foot amputation.
  • Neuropathy with a foot callus.
  • Foot deformity.
  • Poor circulation.

These are all conditions that puts someone at risk for limb amputation. If you don’t qualify for diabetic shoes, that is great news. If you do qualify for shoes, I highly recommend you take advantage of this medical benefit. Here’s what you need to do:

1) The doctor caring for your diabetes needs to sign this letter of medical necessity and provide a copy of the most recent office visit note.

2) The doctor caring for your feet needs to give you a prescription (this could be from the same doctor or a podiatrist)

3) Once you have steps #1 and #2 completed, bring documents to a store that accepts insurance and dispenses diabetic shoes and inserts. Look it the store near you online.

I suggest doing a quick search on the internet (such as googling “diabetic shoes near me”) to see what stores sell diabetic shoes. Next, call up a few and see if they take your insurance. Usually, nation-wide brands such as Active Life and Hangar accept insurance. There are lots of local stores too but not all of them accept insurance. However the local stores are more likely to have better looking shoes so check them out. Insurance covered shoes are less expensive and usually less attractive. If you want more options, you may have to pay out of pocket.

It can take them about a month or longer to make your inserts. So if you have an active ulcer, visit the stores early to get fitted so your shoes and inserts will be ready on the day your ulcer is healed. There are lots of stores out there, do this early if you want to shop for a pair of shoes that you like!

Click here for PDF version of this article.

Click here for letter of medical necessity (obtained from http://www.medi-cal.ca.gov)

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