Many older adults rely on home medical equipment like walkers, wheelchairs, hospital beds, oxygen concentrators, or other assistive devices in order to live as safely and comfortably as possible. But finding the right equipment at the right price can be challenging.
When it comes to home medical equipment and supplies for your older adult, there are a few different ways to find what they need.
Getting medical supplies could be fast and efficient, like when receiving oxygen, IV, or NG tube supplies. They often come in overnight shipments right to your door.
For other items like a wheelchair, hospital bed, bedside commode, or other types of durable medical equipment, you may end up waiting weeks or even months. That will depend on the local medical equipment companies that Medicare requires you to work with in order for the item to be covered.
But that’s not the only way to find medical equipment and supplies.
Find out about 3 ways to get the home medical equipment that your older adult needs with pricing ranging from fully covered by insurance to paying out of pocket.
1. Get a Doctor’s Order
If your older adult needs durable medical equipment and they’d like Medicare Part B or Medicaid to pay for it, they’ll need a doctor’s order.
Basically, your older adult’s primary care physician or specialist needs to examine them and write a “prescription” (aka doctor’s order) for the needed equipment. The doctor will also need to complete and submit any other required paperwork.
For example, to qualify for a Medicare-covered wheelchair, your older adult’s doctor may have to assess and determine that your older adult:
- Has difficulty getting around the home even with a cane or walker
- Is unable to perform daily tasks (like dressing, bathing) on their own
- Has a condition, disease, or injury that requires a specific type of wheelchair in the home
- Can manually operate the wheelchair themselves or has a caregiver who can help at all times
The ability to get a doctor’s order also covers other condition-specific durable medical equipment like a hospital bed, CPAP machine, patient lift, walker, cane, oxygen concentrator, blood sugar monitor, and more. Find out which types of durable medical equipment are covered by Medicare Part B here https://www.medicare.gov/coverage/durable-medical-equipment-coverage.html
Medicare covers the cost of some equipment completely and other types they may cover partially. If only part of the cost is covered, your older adult would need to make monthly co-payments, either in a rent-based or lease-to-own model – meaning they’d pay a certain amount over 12 months and then they’d officially own the equipment.
2. Find a local lending program
Some local nonprofit organizations may have programs where people can borrow medical equipment and assistive devices for free.
These programs typically rely on donations of medical equipment from people who no longer need them. The items are cleaned, repaired, and then lent out to people in need.
Check with the county’s Area Agency on Aging, local senior resource centers, or religious organizations to see if they have medical equipment lending programs. Denver and the surrounding areas has a rich network of used medical equipment. A quick internet search will help you find a center close to you.
You’ll often find a range of durable medical equipment, including bedside commodes, wheelchairs, walkers, overbed tables, canes, and sometimes even hospital beds. Depending on the organization, they may also stock other supplies like nutritional drinks, adult incontinence supplies, and cleaning supplies.
3. Buy it yourself (pay out of pocket)
In some situations, time is the most important factor. Your older adult may need certain medical equipment items immediately.
If that’s the case, you might want to shop around and pay out of pocket. It is possible to find quality equipment at a decent price – you don’t necessarily need to spend an arm and a leg. We’ve got suggestions on where to look.
If you decide to shop online, like for a high quality cane, you might want to start with a Google search or a search on Amazon. Amazon is known for fast shipping and great customer service, but doesn’t always have the lowest prices. So it’s also worth looking at other online medical equipment companies that may offer free shipping or special promotions like 10% off for first-time customers.
If the item is something you’d prefer to see and test out in person, check local drugstore chains (like CVS or Walgreens) or a big retail store (like Walmart) to see their selection of medical equipment. You might even be able to use a loyalty card or rewards points to get a discount!
And don’t forget about charity resale shops like Goodwill or Salvation Army – you never know what they may have for sale.
If your older adult is currently using a home health care agency, you may also want to check with them. Their nurses or aides may be able to bring certain medical supplies at no charge or share advice about which types of durable medical equipment or supplies could help in your older adult’s care.
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