Have you heard the term medical equipment supplier and wondered what that meant? Normally these types of medical companies supply what is called durable medical equipment (DME) to those who need it, according to the Department of Social Services. These are usually supplies that one might need after getting out of the hospital or for their long-term care at home.

Durable Medical Equipment

Some people need certain kinds of durable medical equipment or special supplies in order to live a high quality of life and function as independently as possible. Others might only need a piece of equipment for a short time. Equipment and supplies are purchased through a medical equipment supplier. Some examples of DME include:

  • Wheelchairs
  • Crutches
  • C-PAP machines and supplies
  • Oxygen
  • High calorie formula
  • Colostomy bags
  • Foot orthotics
  • Shower chairs
  • Hospice beds
  • Breast pumps

Normally, if the patient is only going to need their medical equipment for a couple of months to assist with recovery, they can rent the equipment without having to buy it. One example would be a pair of crutches. If they need it for long-term use, such as a C-PAP machine for sleep apnea, it is common to do a rent-to-purchase. Other medical equipment can be purchased without having to rent it first.

Health Insurance

Insurance companies, along with Medicaid and Medicare, normally cover most types of medical equipment. If you have health insurance, it is important to know how your insurance carrier covers durable medical equipment. Normally, your deductible has to be met first before paying your coinsurance. It's also important that the medical supply company is a participating provider with your insurance company.

Most insurance companies also require prior authorization for rentals or any piece of equipment that is purchased for an amount of $500 or more. A medical equipment supplier should have someone on staff who handles submitting claims to the insurance company and who makes sure the appropriate authorizations are in place.

If you have Medicaid or Medicare, they have their own guidelines for covering DME. For example, they usually only cover a wheelchair every five years and might not pay for the entire cost. Sometimes certain types of DME are considered not medically necessary which is when they typically don't cover it.

More about Medical Suppliers

Something else that a medical equipment supplier does is assist the patient with getting the proper equipment. Some medical equipment supply companies have staff that go to the hospital or the patient's home to help them learn how to operate certain kinds of equipment like feeding pumps and also to get fitted for wheelchairs.

Related Resource: Compliance Technician in Healthcare

A medical equipment supplier is crucial when it comes to a patient's full recovery whether they were in the hospital for a period of time, or sustained a broken leg. Moms with newborns can also benefit as they supply breast pumps that are now covered by most insurance companies. They are also a very important resource for those who have special needs such as cerebral palsy or diabetes who may need different kinds of equipment and special medical supplies.