What is Durable Medical Equipment, and Where Can You Buy It?
As you age or manage an illness or disability, you will encounter new terms; one of these is durable medical equipment (DME). These are medically necessary supplies and devices you can use over and over.
You've likely heard about DME before; it's an official term used by Medicare, Medicaid, and other insurance companies.
There is a greater chance for mature adults and seniors to experience a chronic illness, suffer an injury, have mobility issues, and need durable medical equipment more than younger age demographics.
What is Considered Durable Medical Equipment?
It's essential to understand what's counted as DME because it affects your insurance coverage; most policies will cover all or most of the expenses for durable medical equipment.
Durable medical equipment is devices and supplies that you repeatedly use, like a hospital bed in your home or a prosthetic limb.
For the product to qualify as a DME, the item has to:
- Serve a primary medical purpose
- Have a prescription from your medical provider
- You can use it repeatedly
- Should last you three years or more
- Use it in your home
- Specifically used for people with injury or disability
Some of the most common durable medical equipment used outside the hospital are:
- kidney machines
- Traction equipment
- Oxygen concentrators, monitors, ventilators, and related supplies
- Personal care aids like bath chairs, dressing aids, and commodes.
- Mobility aids like walkers, canes, canes, wheelchairs, and scooters.
- Bed equipment includes hospital beds, pressure mattresses, light therapy, and lift beds.
Are Hearing Aids Durable Medical Equipment?
Even though hearing aids fit the profile to qualify as DME, they last longer than three years, and you wear them every day, yet they still aren't considered durable medical equipment.
Even though nearly 25 percent of those aged 65 to 75 and 50 percent of those 75 and over experience hearing loss, hearing aids still aren't classified as DME or covered by Medicare or most private insurance companies.
They consider hearing aids elective or Class 1 medical devices, which aren't medically necessary by definition. So if you're concerned about the cost of hearing aids, you can see the companies we review and the models they offer.
Durable Medical Equipment and Adaptive Equipment, What the Differences?
As we explained earlier, durable medical equipments are reusable devices and supplies that serve a medical purpose. Adaptive equipment is another equipment category that helps mature adults and seniors, and people with short or long-term disabilities but doesn't have to perform a medical purpose.
Adaptive equipment are devices and supplies that assist with mobility and (ADLs) or activities of daily living and instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs). These items help you with dressing, bathing, toileting, eating, communication =, education, and mobility more manageable, safer, or accessible.
What is Durable Medical Equipment Covered By Medicare?
If you have Medicare and need durable medical equipment, Medicare Part B covers DME if your doctor prescribes them for home use.
DME that Medicare covers include but is not limited to:
- Blood sugar meters
- Blood sugar test strips
- Commode chairs
- Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) devices
- Hospital beds
- Home infusion services
- Infusion pumps & supplies
- Wheelchairs & scooters
- Traction equipment
- Items designed to help you outside of your home
- Equipment that will add comfort like grab bars, air conditioners, or toilet seats
- Single-use items like surgical face masks or incontinence pads
- Home modifications like widened doors or ramps
- Equipment that you buy from a supplier that doesn't accept Medicare payments
How Much Does Medicare Cover for Durable Medical Equipment?
If you want Medicare to pay your claims, you need to ensure that your doctor prescribing the equipment and the supplier are enrolled with Medicare. Under Original Medicare, you'll need to pay 20 percent of the cost, and Medicare will pay 80 percent, keep in mind that you'll have to pay the Part B deductible as well.
How to Find Medicare Approved Durable Medical Equipment Suppliers Near Me
Looking for an easy way to find Medicare-approved DME suppliers? Try the official Medicare Find Medicare Equipment and Suppliers search tool.
You can use the tool two ways:
- Type in your zip code and a supplier's name to see if they participate with Medicare.
- Type in your zip code and the name of the equipment that you need to find a local supplier.
You could also call Medicare directly with your questions about equipment coverage or find a supplier:
- Online – log in to your secure Medicare account
- Phone: 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227)
- TTY: 1-877-486-2048
When you locate a supplier, be sure to ask about coverage and costs, so you pay the least out of pocket.
Does Medicaid Cover Durable Medical Equipment?
Medicaid is a state-specific program, which means that what Medicare covers varies by state. For example, calling or visiting that state's Medicaid office or website.
In general, Medicaid will cover medical equipment that meets the state's guidelines for durable medical equipment and usually follows Medicare's definitions of being medically necessary and cost-effective.
Most state Medicaid programs cover 100 percent of the cost of any home medical equipment that you need.
If you want to ensure you receive coverage by Medicaid for durable medical equipment, you expect this process:
- Your medical provider provides a referral (medical justification letter) that outlines why you need the equipment.
- You give the letter to the Medicaid-approved supplier.
- The supplier will need to complete a prior approval (PA) application and send it to the state Medicaid office.
- The state Medicaid office will either approve or deny the claim
- The supplier will ship the DME and send the bill to Medicaid if you are approved.
- If denied, you'll receive a letter detailing why you were denied and an appeal process.
The exact process may differ in the area where you live, but this provides some expectations.
What Are Other Ways to Pay for Durable Medical Equipment?
In some cases, you won't want to wait to see if what you need will be covered, or Medicaid or Medicare won't pay for the item you need. If this happens, consider these alternative options.
- Private pay: Paying out of pocket might be the quickest way to get your items. Find out the cost difference between paying privately for something versus having Medicare, Medicaid, or another insurance cover the expense. You can save half the cost by buying used equipment, check eBay, Nextdoor, or Facebook marketplace to find second-hand items for sale.
- Private insurance: Typically, private insurers will cover durable medical equipment, but call and speak directly to someone ask for all the coverage details.
- Veterans health care: The VA has multiple programs, including CHAMPVA benefits and Tricare for veterans and their spouses; they can qualify for help with Medicare copayment or sometimes the entire cost for DME.
- Nonprofit or state assistance: You should visit your state's website or call your local Area Agency on Aging office for help to find available programs. There are nonprofits and national foundations, and some states have funds set aside for seniors to cover durable medical equipment through grants, low-interest loans, assistive technology programs.
Mobility Equipment for Mature Adults
The desire to remain independent and age-at-home for most mature adults results in physical and emotional well-being. But with so many options to choose from, it can be daunting; however,
Canes: Walking canes, walking sticks can help steady those who may be at risk for falling.
Patient Transfer Devices: A transfer device like a board or transfer disk helps people.
Crutches : assist you if you suffer a leg injury and can't stand or walk.
Wheelchairs: There have been many advances in design and options, including reclining models.
Walkers – Mobility for seniors and mature adults is key to a quality life.
Bath Safety & Safety Products for Seniors
The bathroom is a potentially dangerous place for most people, and if you are aging, the risk rises tenfold, especially if you have limited mobility. Older people and those who are disabled or injured encounter more obstacles in the form of slick wet surfaces and hard fixtures.
By researching and purchasing some of these products, you won't need to renovate your entire bathroom to make it safer or easier to navigate.
Safety in the bathroom should be a top priority for you and your loved ones.
- Bariatric Bathroom Aids – Bariatric bathroom aids, designed to support the weight of large or heavy people.
- Bath lifts: Bath lifts give freedom and dignity to people that need assistance.
- Bathtub safety: Find bathroom aids and safety products, bath lifts, bath mats, and bathroom accessories.
- Bathtub Transfer Benches: A bathtub transfer bench is excellent for getting an adult or
seniorwith limited mobility into a bathtub.
- Walk-in Tubs: Avoid accidents by using a portable walk-in tub.
- Bedrooms Supplies: There seems to be a myth that mature adults and seniors need less sleep, but can we agree that sleep and a good night's rest are essential for all ages? Especially this age group. There are ways to create your haven at home, complete with safety modifications like bed rails, mattress pads, bed wedges, and various functional pillows to have the perfect sleeping position; of course, investing in a quality mattress is the foundation.
Electric Mobility Scooters for Seniors
Losing mobility should never be a reason to stop doing what you love; seniors can use mobility scooters to support them every day. A good mobility scooter helps mature adults stay on the go in most situations. Just do some research to find the model that fits your needs.
While mobility scooters offer some advantages, they have downsides as well. For example, they allow seniors to leave the house, go shopping, attend events, and visit their friends and family.
Medical Home Supplies for Seniors
When choosing the right medical supplies, first make sure your bathroom, home, and vehicle have emergency kits and first aid basics, then acquire items that treat specific conditions. Often supplies will get used up, and when a minor cut happens or a burn, you panic because there are no supplies available.
Consider stocking up online; so you'll be prepared for any accident or minor illness. If you are a caregiver, be sure to check on the medical supplies in your loved one's homes often and provide them a personal kit if they downsize to a new home or
Daily Living Aid & Products for Seniors
Seniors need to stay independent and have the tools to accomplish their daily living activities, or DLAs. It's essential to maintain the ability to get dressed, get up and down from a chair, bed, or toilet seat and be mobile, which includes:
- Arthritis Aids: When you are experiencing pain from arthritis in your hands and joints, you could try arthritis aids like therapeutic gloves and moist heat pads that fit the shape of your stiff joints providing relief.
- Health and Cleansing Products: Cleansers help with personal hygiene during bathing and shampooing.
- Clothing and Dressing Aids: Makes getting dressed easier and clothing that's easier to slip on and tools to help with zippers, pulls, and buttons.
- Electronic Alerts: These are monitering devices and other wearables that make life safer and provide peace of mind. Medical responders and operators are available 24 hours to provide attention for any perceived or actual emergency.
- Headphones for TV listening
- Home Blood Pressure Monitors – Consider buying a model that's easy to use and read. Monitering your high blood pressure at home can reduce your risk of heart events.
- Hot and Cold Pads – Try different products for pain relief; heat and cold therapy are often used.
- Massage Therapy – Massage can be transformational both physically and emotionally. They have many benefits that can be experienced using home massagers – from handheld to seat cushions that offer all kinds of massage in your favorite chair.
- Orthopedic supplies: If your joints need additional support to keep you active, consider wearing an appropriate brace, wrap, collar and sleeve to cushion and protect your injured area and increase your mobility.
- Paraffin Therapy – Now, you can enjoy the benefits of a professional-style paraffin wax bath at home that will help soothe aching joints in hands, feet, and elbows.
- Thermometers – If you're not feeling well, one of the first questions the doctor may ask is if you're running a fever. Having an easy-to-read digital thermometer, they even have some with a large readout or a voice that speaks the results, so you get the answer fast.
- Utensils and Dinnerware – We take eating and drinking for granted until we lose that ability because our hands aren't as flexible as they used to be; try specialty utensils and tableware.
Nutritional Supplements for Seniors
Have you been researching to buy supplements, which is probably because you already know that meeting your daily vitamin, mineral, and calorie requirements is significant, especially for mature adults, seniors, and people with illnesses?
As you age, you may add nutritional supplements to your diet to get the nutrients you're consuming efficiently in your food.
You may also experience a loss of appetite related to physical or emotional conditions. Your prescriptions may also be causing you to have a reduced appetite, in which case you could try meal replacements; they taste good and are easy to consume while supplying the necessary nutrients. When we're young, we consume fewer calories, but older people need to stay aware of getting sufficient quality calories with vitamins and minerals for optimal health.
Top Stores to Find DME and Adaptive Equipment
The Wright Stuff is perfect for gifts for your aging parents and seniors looking for arthritis aids or someone experiencing a temporary or permanent disability. We can help them find the products they need to make their lives a little easier.
ArthritisSupplies.com – Provides products that help move around more accessible for people with limited mobility and accessories for canes, crutches, walkers, scooters, and wheelchairs.
CaregiverProducts.com – Everything a caregiver would need in the kitchen, getting ready, around the house, and out and about. You can search by conditions like Parkinson's, Stroke, and Alzheimer's & Dementia.
Mobility-Aids.com Perfect if you're looking for adaptive daily living aids, including rollators and walkers, they have a vast selection of mobility aids and accessories for wheelchairs, walkers, canes, and crutches.
Activenable.com sells fitness and exercise equipment for the lower body, upper body, core, and balance; they also have water fitness. Perfect for people with disabilities, arthritis, the elderly, and wheelchair users. These exercises can regain your arm, back, chest, neck strength, and endurance.
Health Products For You – They are a superstore with over 200,000 SKUs; you will find everything from wound care, ostomy systems, and care, mobility, women's health products, including post-mastectomy, and much more.
Rehab Store – A large selection to nurse you back to health after an injury, find orthopedic supports and braces, daily living aids, kitchen aids, nutrition, patient protection products, hospital furniture, and hospital supplies.
Total Diabetes Supply: Find discount diabetes supplies, everything from CGM sensors, test strips, glucose meter kits, wound care, diabetic pet care, alcohol prep pads, and men's health, including ED.
Health Products For You – You can find health care products and home medical supplies with 200,000 SKUs.
OrCam MyEye & OrCam Read – Devices that enable blind or visually impaired people to read text, recognize faces, identify products, and much more.
Chirp – Chirp wheels are designed to massage and help “crack” your back and bring relief.
Classy Walking Canes – A specialty site with the latest styles imported from Europe. Including the “Lord Derby handle Cane,” the most sought-after cane in the world, “The Blackthorn,” folding fashionable canes. Shooter tick is a must for those who love the indoors.
Medical Supply Depot – Source for medical supplies and everything needed for pain management, respiratory care, skincare, medical supplies, medical equipment, home care supplies, skincare, elder care, elderly, health care, wheelchairs, home care, walking aids, incontinence, diagnostic and pain management.
Mars Med Supply – Search for medical supply, orthopedic, health, and beauty They are the exclusive seller of many of their products and many other brands.
Carex Health Brands has a vast menu to search by condition, from insomnia to sleep apnea; they have a full selection of mobility, safety, pain management, sleep therapy (CPAP), and bright light therapy.
CWI Medical – They specialize in health and wellness products. They offer home and repeat delivery and stock a complete line of nutritional supplements, enteral formulas, incontinence products, durable medical equipment, medical supplies, aids for daily living.
Simply Medical – medical supplies, incontinence supplies, healthcare, walking aids, medical health products, incontinence products, and health mobility aids.
ElderDepot.com – Provides innovative and helpful products to improve the life of seniors and their caregivers.
HomeHealthCareShoppe.com – Home healthcare store caters to those looking for post-surgery products, sports rehabilitation items, fall prevention items for seniors used in bathrooms, foot care items, braces, support products, and mobility items such as walkers, canes, and wheelchairs, etc.
Hero Health, Inc.: The first and only in-home medication manager that intuitively sorts and dispenses medication; has audible and digital reminders; automates refills, and provides real-time as well as historical adherence data.
Fitville: FitVille Rebound Core is a multifunctional sneaker line designed for comfort while running and jumping and stylish enough to be worn in everyday situations. In fact, during the testing phase, the shoes were put through their paces more than 500 times by a group of customers with wide feet.
Able Motion: They focus on the healthcare and disability market. One of their best-selling products is a Left Foot Accelerator and pedal extender.