Home Health Care

4 Crucial Questions to Ask When Buying or Renting Durable Medical Equipment Through Medicare

Is your senior loved one in need of durable medical equipment (DME) such as a hospital bed, oxygen equipment, electric wheelchair or other home medical equipment? The truth is, buying or renting them when your senior loved one has Medicare can be a complicated and confusing, if not downright daunting process. That’s why we have put together the following 4 crucial questions you need to ask the supplier before making a rental or purchase. Make sure you get thorough answers to avoid getting into trouble with coverage or shelling more money than you should.

Question #1. Are You Under Contract With Competitive Bidding Program?

Medicare kick-started the Competitive Bidding Program back in 2003 to help those in need of durable medical equipment on two fronts:

  • Make sure that high-quality DMEs are available throughout the country, and
  • Minimize out-of-pocket costs for durable medical equipment especially for older adults

Against this knowledge, it’s worth noting that not all durable medical equipment is eligible under the program. In fact, not all DMEs are subject to competitive bidding. More crucially, you should be aware that Medicare only covers DMEs from suppliers who are part of the Competitive Bidding Program if your senior adult resides in a competitive bidding area.

So, what happens if your senior lives in a non-competitive bidding area? What if the required durable medical equipment isn’t subject to competitive bidding? In either case, a supplier that’s not only Medicare-approved but also willing to take up the assignment will come in handy.

Question #2. Is it Covered by My Medicare Plan?

If your senior is covered under a Medicare Advantage Plan, renting or buying from an on-network supplier will ensure utmost coverage. Getting it from an out-of-network supplier means that your older adult might have to foot the entire bill. While some Medicare Advantage plans include out-of-network coverage, it’s best to use on-network supplier to pay the lowest price possible.

Question #3. Do you an ATP?

An ATP, or Assistive Technology Professional, is an expert who specializes in seating products and wheeled mobility equipment (WME). This is a professional who’ll assess if your older adult meets the requirements needed for Medicare to approve a DME. More importantly, an ATP can offer insights and recommend the best durable medical equipment for your older loved one.

Of course, if your senior loved one does not require wheeled mobile equipment (eg, wheelchair), then you might proceed to a supplier that doesn’t have an Assistive Technology Professional.

Question #4. Are you a Medical Participating Supplier?

Asking this question is a no-brainer if you want to avoid paying extra. Let’s get one thing straight: if your older adult lives in Massachusetts, Ohio, Minnesota, Connecticut, Vermont, Pennsylvania, New York or Rhode Island, you have nothing to worry about because these states don’t permit suppliers to charge more than Medicare set prices for DMEs. However, if your senior doesn’t live in these states and the supplier isn’t a Medicare participating provider, you might be charged up to 15% more to rent or buy DMEs.

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Respite Care Services Can Do Wonders for Caregiver’s Health and Well-Being

While caring for your senior loved one is rewarding enough, you don’t want to neglect your own health and well-being. If you do, caregiver stress and overwork will literally kill you.

Did you know that caregivers are twice more likely to develop chronic health issues like heart disease, diabetes, heart attack, stroke, arthritis and cancer than non-caregivers? As if that isn’t bad enough, severe stress from nonstop caregiving can shave 10 years off your life!

That’s a big no-no.

Lucky for you, that’s where respite care services can come in especially handy. It’s a no-brainer way to take some pressure off of you, and protect yourself from caregiver burnout and overwhelm.

In this brief guide, we’ll walk you into the fabulous world of respite care – what it is, its key benefits to caregivers, where to find them, and associated costs.

What’s Respite Care?

When you’re caring for an older adult, it’s often an around-the-clock job. But, you naturally need to take a break from time to time to take care of your own health and well-being. That’s where respite care come into the picture.

It’s simply a service where caregivers get a break from caring for a senior. Respite care professionals can care for an older adult on your behalf for a limited time (usually less than 30 days). It can take place in your home or at an assisted living facility.

Either way, respite care offers a myriad of benefits for both the caregiver and the older adult.

Benefits: Why Respite Care?

(1) Take a much-needed break: respite care can come to your rescue when you’re out-and-out overwhelmed by caregiver burnout and stress.

(2) Gives you space to deal with your own health problems: if you’re having a health crisis, respite care can provide you with an opportunity to resurge before resuming caregiving.

(3) It’s a great way to try out a particular assisted living community before you permanently move your senior loved one.

(4) Allows your older adult to receive a high level of care after a surgery or hospital stay

(5) It provides you with time to attend to personal matters or family events

Where to Find Respite Care?

Time-limited respite care services are typically provided by nursing care homes and assisted living facilities across the country. Of course, not all respite care facilities are created equal.

What to look for in a respite care service?

  • Your senior loved should get the personalized care he or she needs 24/7
  • A completely furnished room, complete housekeeping, and laundry service
  • 3 meals a day
  • Help with medication and personal care (dressing, bathing, grooming, toileting, etc.)
  • Plenty of fun social activities, games, and outings

What’s the Cost of Respite Care?

While Medicare usually doesn’t cover respite care, it can take care of 95% of the costs for up to 5 days stay if the facility is part of the hospice program. Even still, the cost of respite care does vary based on the level of care required, type of facility, and location.

According to recent stats, however, you can expect to shell out an average of $235 per day for respite care in a nursing care facility or $123 daily in the case of an assisted living community.


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