Durable Medical Equipment

Medicare Help
Written by Nancy McMahon   

What Is Durable Medical Equipment?

Durable medical equipment is a type of medical equipment that is reusable on a regular basis and is suitable for use within the home.  Medicare, the senior medical protection provided by the government in the United States, determines what is considered durable medical equipment based on whether the type of medical equipment is covered by their insurance, or not. For those who need expensive equipment for use within their home, having this type of protection and payment is important.  It is also important to purchase only those pieces of equipment that are approved through Medicare if you expect to be reimbursed from them.

Medicare And Medical Equipment Help

Many types of medical equipment are covered through Medicare.  This includes many types of purchased and rented equipment.  The equipment is usually used within your home.  Items like hospital beds (for use at home) as well as wheel chairs, motorized vehicles, oxygen tanks and walkers are considered to be DME, or durable medical equipment.  Other items which are one time use items, like bandages are not included in this.  This includes gloves, irrigating kits or other medical supplies like this.  Since these items are not reusable, they are not covered.

Not all purchases of durable medical equipment are covered for every patient.  The rule of thumb is that the purchase or rental must be necessary and considered reasonable.  It should be used as a treatment for an injury or to treat an illness.  In addition, these items may be covered by Medicare if they are used to improve how well part of your body functions.

In most cases, items that are not for direct or primary medical care are not covered by Medicare.  For example, while having air conditioning may be helpful, it is not a direct need for the medical treatment and therefore it is rarely an approved expense.  This also includes dehumidifiers and other household needs not directly associated with the illness or injury.  Medicare considers these items to be beneficial to people even if the illness or injury was not presence and as a convenience item rather than a need.  

In some cases, though, there are exemptions to this rule.  For example, should a doctor determine that there is a real medical need for the item, it may be covered.  To have an item like this covered, the Judge must approve it directly.  Most doctors will be able to tell you if the durable medical equipment they prescribe for you is something that is covered by Medicare.  If they are unsure, you can check directly with Medicare for approval.  
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