If you recently had an operation, are recovering from an illness or have a chronic health condition – you may need medical equipment to help maintain your quality of life at home. This type of equipment is typically called Durable Medical Equipment (DME). DMEs are at-home medical equipment and include wheelchairs, oxygen tanks, or even blood testing strips. You can typically rent or buy this equipment depending on its purpose, cost, and duration of need. Here is some information on what Durable Medical Equipment is and how you can rent or buy items for your home.
What is Durable Medical Equipment?
Durable medical equipment is typically meant for long-term, at-home use. This can include both equipment and supplies prescribed by a physician (just like medication) to treat or support your everyday life. To be considered a DME, the equipment must meet the following criteria (according to Medicare.gov):
- Durable (can withstand repeated use)
- Used for a medical reason
- Not usually useful to someone who isn't sick or injured
- Used in your home
- Has an expected lifetime of at least three years
Some DMEs that could be covered by insurance include items such as:
- Hospital beds
- Mobility aids (walkers, scooters, wheelchairs)
- Personal care aids (bath chairs, commodes, dressing aids)
- Prostheses (artificial limbs)
- Orthotics (therapeutic footwear)
- Oxygen concentrators
How to Find a DME Supplier Near You
If you are currently on Medicare (and even if not) there is a helpful search engine available through the Medicare website to help you locate DME suppliers. To access the list of suppliers, follow these simple instructions:
- Click on the following link to search suppliers in your area: https://www.medicare.gov/supplierdirectory/search.html
- Enter in your zip code
- Select the type(s) of equipment or supplies and then click search
- Review the suppliers in your local area to find the best match and cost
Remember, Medicare will only cover your DME if your doctors and DME suppliers are enrolled in Medicare. You should first get a prescription for your piece of equipment or supplies and confirm that your insurance provider covers it. Depending on the type of equipment:
- You may need to rent the equipment.
- You may need to buy the equipment.
- You may be able to choose whether to rent or buy the equipment.
You should discuss the costs and benefits of buying or renting equipment with your physician. Whatever your need may be, remember to do your research, find suppliers near you and confirm the equipment is covered by insurance, as it can be costly if it is not. You can also research the individual suppliers on Yelp and other customer review sites to check on customer satisfaction. Share your experiences with others and let us know if you have any tips of your own!