San Francisco is known for its picturesque hills and vibrant cityscape. However, navigating the city's steep inclines and uneven terrain can be challenging, especially for individuals with mobility impairments. That’s where group 3 power wheelchairs come in.

Find out what group 3 wheelchairs are and how to go through San Francisco Health Plan to get one here.

What Is a Group 3 Power Wheelchair?

Group 3 power wheelchairs are advanced mobility devices designed to meet the specific needs of individuals with neurological diagnoses, myopathy, or congenital skeletal deformities. These chairs offer a higher level of functionality, helping users conquer various terrains and enjoy independence in their daily lives.

Common Diagnoses for Group 3 Power Chairs

Group 3 wheelchairs cater to a wide range of conditions, including, but not limited to:

  • Spinal cord injury
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Stroke with Hemiplegia
  • Multiple sclerosis (MS)
  • Progressed Parkinson’s
  • ALS
  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Muscular Dystrophy
  • Osteogenesis Imperfecta

Requirements for Obtaining a Group 3 Power Wheelchair in California

To be eligible for a Group 3 power wheelchair in California, you meet certain qualifications. These guidelines are outlined in the Power Mobility Devices Local Coverage Determination (LCD) and include the following:

  • Mobility Limitation - The beneficiary must have a mobility limitation due to a neurological condition, myopathy, or congenital skeletal deformity. These conditions significantly affect mobility and necessitate the use of a power wheelchair.
  • Speciality Evaluation - You must undergo a specialty evaluation performed by a licensed or certified medical professional with training and experience in rehabilitation wheelchair evaluations. This evaluation should clearly document the medical necessity for the power wheelchair and its unique features. The evaluating professional should not have any financial relationship with the supplier.
  • Involvement of RESNA-Certified ATP - The power wheelchair must be provided by a supplier that employs a RESNA-certified assistive technology professional (ATP) specializing in wheelchairs. The ATP should have direct, in-person involvement in the wheelchair selection process for the beneficiary, ensuring that the prescribed wheelchair meets the individual's specific needs.

How to Get a Group 3 Power Wheelchair Through SFHP

If you’re a resident of San Francisco and a member of SFHP, you may be covered for a Group 3 power wheelchair. Here’s a general overview of the process:

1. Consult Your Healthcare Provider

Discuss your mobility needs and the possibility of obtaining a Group 3 power chair with a healthcare professional. They can help guide you through the process and provide the necessary documentation.

2. Contact SFHP

Go online or contact San Francisco Health Plan directly to learn about their requirements and coverage for Group 3 wheelchairs.

3. Complete the Application

Fill out the application form provided by SFHP. Make sure to include all relevant medical documentation and supporting materials to strengthen your case. San Francisco Health Plan will then review your application to determine your eligibility for a power chair. This process may take some time, so be patient and follow up if necessary.

4. Get Your Power Wheelchair

If your application is approved, you’ll receive instructions on how to get your wheelchair. Work closely with a mobility provider like Freedom Mobility Center to ensure a smooth delivery and setup process.

What Are the Benefits of Group 3 Power Wheelchairs?

  • Enhanced battery life - Larger batteries provide extended usage before recharging. This feature is particularly beneficial for active individuals who rely solely on their power wheelchair as their primary means of mobility.
  • Increased speed and community access - Group 3 power wheelchairs can travel up to 6mph, making them easier to use in public places and keeping up with the pace of urban life in San Francisco.
  • Improved suspension for indoor and outdoor use - Enhanced suspension reduces the risk of tipping on uneven terrain and ramps, provides a smoother ride, and minimizes spasms triggered by vibrations and unwanted movement.
  • Climbing capabilities and accessibility - These chairs are designed to navigate thresholds, curbs, and other obstacles safely. You can also program different drive profiles based on varying environments.
  • Customizable power seat functions - Power seat functions (anterior tilt, recline, elevate, adjustable seat height, etc.) allow individuals to tailor their seats for optimal comfort and functionality. Group 3 chairs are compatible with alternative drive controls like head-array or sip-and-puff systems.

Have Questions About Group 3 Power Wheelchairs?

Do you need help getting a Medi-Cal-approved wheelchair through San Francisco Health Plan? Take the first step with the right mobility partner, such as Freedom Mobility Center, by your side.

We offer a wide range of products and services throughout California to assist individuals in finding the right mobility solutions for their specific needs. Contact us today for a FREE consultation — together, we can help you conquer San Francisco’s hills and embrace the freedom of outdoor mobility!