What to Know When Purchasing Durable Medical Equipment (DME)
Durable Medical Equipment (DME) encompasses many items. Medicare Part B (medical insurance) may cover medically necessary DME if your doctor prescribes it for you. This list includes possible covered items (but isn’t necessarily 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
The process to either purchase or rent this kind of equipment can be confusing to both the user and the caregiver. It’s important to educate yourself and create a list of questions to ask the store/provider that sells or rents the equipment you need. No one wants to spend more than they should on medical equipment, or worse yet, be denied Medicare coverage because they went about the process the wrong way.
Important questions to ask a DME provider include:
- Do they accept your Medicare plan?
- Do they participate in Medicare’s competitive bidding program?
- Are they a Medicare participating provider?
- Do they have an Assistive Technology Professional?
Another avenue to explore is purchasing used equipment. Be sure to check your insurance policy first to see if they only cover new, or if they will pay toward the cost of used equipment. The type of DME you need will, of course, dictate whether buying used equipment is a good idea. Some equipment requires constant maintenance, and as such, you might be better off buying new equipment that comes with a warranty and/or a service contract.
If you do go the ‘new to you’ route, be sure to thoroughly check both the equipment before purchasing it, and the seller’s reputation. 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.