Purchasing Durable Medical Equipment (DME): What You Need to Know
Many items fall under the category of Durable Medical Equipment (DME). If your doctor prescribes medically necessary DME to you, then there’s a chance that Medicare Part B (medical insurance) may cover the cost of it. Possible covered items are included on the list below, but do note that they are not limited to only the items on this list:
- Air-fluidized beds and other support surfaces (rental only)
- Blood sugar monitors
- Blood sugar test strips
- Commode chairs
- Continuous passive motion machines
- Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) devices and accessories
- Enteral nutrition supplies and equipment
- Glucose control solutions
- Hospital beds
- Hyperbaric oxygen (HBO) therapy
- Infusion pumps and supplies
- Lancet devices and lancets
- Nebulizers and nebulizer medications
- Oxygen equipment and accessories
- Patient lifts
- Suction pumps
- Traction equipment
- Wheelchairs and scooters
Purchasing or renting this kind of equipment can be a confusing process to both the user and the caregiver. Prior to pursuing this, be sure to educate yourself on what may or not be available to you. Creating a list of questions to ask the store/provider that sells or rents the equipment you need can prove fruitful. Going about the process the wrong way, or with insufficient knowledge on the subject, can result in overpaying for medical equipment or–even worse–being denied Medicare coverage.
In the interest of helping you learn more about the process, we’ve included below a number of important questions that you ought to ask a DME provider.
Questions To Ask:
- Do you accept my Medicare plan?
- Do you participate in Medicare’s competitive bidding program?
- Are you a Medicare participating provider?
- Do you have an Assistive Technology Professional?
Purchasing used equipment is another avenue you ought to explore. Check your insurance policy to see if they only cover new equipment, or if they will indeed pay toward the cost of used equipment. The type of DME you need dictates whether buying used equipment is a good idea. Some equipment requires constant maintenance, so you may in those cases be better off buying new equipment that comes with a warranty, and/or a service contract.
If you do choose the ‘new to you’ route, thoroughly check both the equipment and the seller’s reputation before purchasing it. While established companies are easier to investigate (check out BBB.org for existing complaints), finding a great deal on Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist might be too hard to resist–just do your homework, and trust your gut if something doesn’t feel right about the sale.
Also, don’t forget to involve your physician or prescribing provider in your decision to purchase or rent. They know your situation better than any DME provider does, and can steer you in the right direction.
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