Everything you need to know about diabetic shoes


When you have diabetes, it is very important to wear shoes that will decrease any chances of foot problems. In 2021, you now have many options for diabetic footwear that is comfortable, functional and stylish.

What are Diabetic Shoes?

Diabetic shoes are specialized shoes designed to protect your feet from forces that can break down skin and develop dangerous sores and ulcers. This shoe design features:

  • A protective interior made from soft material with stitching that does not protrude and will not rub on the wearer’s feet.
  • Non-binding uppers that insure there will be no significant pressure on the foot.
  • Extra-depth that will provide a pressure-free fit and will be able to accommodate thick orthotic inserts.
  • A deeper toe box that provides extra room for toe movement and avoid pressure put on the toes.
  • Lightweight, cushioned soles that will better facilitate mobility and stability, and reduce impacts on the foot.

Why are diabetic shoes important?

The risks of wounds to the foot in diabetic patients are higher than average due to poor circulation and neuropathy reducing the nerves’ ability to heal and sense damage to the feet. Sores can quickly turn into wounds and ulcers without patients even realizing it. These wounds and ulcers can quickly become infected and lead to dangerous, life-threatening conditions, including amputation. Our goal at West Michigan Foot and Ankle is to explore every avenue possible to avoid amputation and take preventative measures.

Diabetic shoes are not only important for diabetic patients with a history of wounds and ulcers. These shoes can prevent wounds and ulcers from forming, as well as prevent foot strains and calluses.

I have Medicare. Do I qualify for diabetic shoes?

The short answer is Yes! Medicare typically covers 80% of the cost of diabetic shoes.

The long answer: 

As of December 2014, the American Diabetes Association reported that roughly 30 million Americans suffer from diabetes. 60 to 70% of people with diabetes suffer from neuropathy, characterized as nerve damage and loss of sensation resulting in a loss of feeling. Unfortunately, diabetics with neuropathy of the feet are significantly more susceptible to skin changes, infections, calluses and ulcerations.

In order to circumvent these ailments and the potential of a lower limb amputation, Medicare statutes were amended to cover certain therapeutic shoes, inserts and possible modifications for those patients that qualify based on their stated requirements. As opposed to traditional shoes, diabetic footwear is designed to prevent shearing, establish total contact with the bottom of the foot and maintain a greater depth. Under the following conditions, Medicare covers diabetic shoes, inserts and/or modifications.

What requirements does Medicare have for shoes?

If you have been diagnosed with diabetes and have three or more of the following:

  • Partial or complete amputation of the foot
  • A history of foot ulceration
  • Pre-ulcerative callus formation
  • Nerve damage
  • Poor circulation
  • Foot deformity


  • You are being treated by the physician under a comprehensive plan for your diabetes and must have visited with your Primary Care Physician within 6 months.
  • Your doctor evaluates that you need therapeutic shoes and/or inserts due to your diabetes.

What other insurance companies pay toward diabetic shoes?

Most insurance companies will pay toward diabetic shoes. We are happy to answer if you would or would not qualify!

How can West Michigan Foot and Ankle assist me with diabetic shoes?

If you are interested in a new pair of diabetic shoes, make an appointment with us!

After your initial appointment and evaluation, we will do a complimentary insurance check to find out if your insurance carrier will pay toward a new pair of shoes. After this, we will schedule you back for a sizing and scanning appointment. At this appointment, one of our shoe specialists will not only get the most accurate shoe size measurements for you, but will also scan your feet with our 3-D scanner. This scanner will give us the most accurate shape of your foot so we can order customized inserts to put into your shoes. This will increase the support your foot receives, as well as your stability!

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