Durable medical equipment (DME) is a silent cost of care. People accept the fact they need DME and it eventually becomes part of the normal day to day care.
What is DME? From the Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina corporate medical policy dated 9/2016, DME is any equipment that provides therapeutic benefits to a patient in need because of certain medical conditions or illnesses. See the full detail in the picture below.
Some common DME things I see are wheelchairs, oxygen, beds, walkers/canes, etc. You can rent or buy the equipment. It can be new or used.
Each insurance policy is different to please review your coverage with your provider. What I will provide is a way to keep costs down. And in return, and hope, that when uHelpCare.com formally launches, we will offer cost saving DME options.
1. Contact your local hospice, Goodwill, church/place of worship, ALFs and donation centers
When you are no longer in need of DME items, it is sometimes is hard to get rid of it. Somethings seem too taboo to give as a hand-me-down. Example, a bedside toilet chair. We bought a new one for my father and he used maybe a handful or two times. Perfect condition and sterilized after every use. It sits in the corner of my father’s bedroom at our home. He doesn’t live at home anymore, he lives at an Assisted Living Facility (ALF). A toilet chair can start at $25 and go much higher. Why pay for new when I can guarantee you that there is one within a mile or two of you collecting dust. Call the places you might find DME or businesses well connected to the community at large in a non-profit capacity. On a Saturday, drive around to your local garage sales and if you see one or two DME things, you can assume there may be more inside. Just ask.
2. Use online resources
I found this company by Googling used DME. The company is called theDMElist.com. You can sell or find DME that fits your exact needs. It’s pretty much what I want uHelpCare.com to offer but the site seems like there isn’t much activity. I tried a simple search within 100 miles of my zip code in Florida and nothing came up. For my parent’s zip code in Pennsylvania, 33 items came up. There were crutches, wheelchairs, beds, bi-pap machine and that’s just a few examples.
A side note, if you use Craigslist, social media Garage Sale group, or any online resource where it’s a peer to peer transaction, please use safety precaution to keep you safe. Meet at a public place. Many municipalities offer parking spots at their local police stations or fire departments to do exchanges. These spots are usually monitored by camera and there is always someone on premise. If it’s large DME items like a bed that is being taken from someone’s home or needs to be tested for function, please bring an able body companion with you and let a friend know where you are going.
3. Work with your doctors and hospitals
Most hospitals have a case management social worker or advocate that will meet with you if you are being discharged and need DME. They are a valuable resource that can direct you where and who to contact. Depending on their workload, they may be able to call on your behalf but you will need to set up appointments with providers. Some hospitals may have a charitable foundation that collects items or can assist with funds.
4. Check the medicare.gov site
There is a search engine on the Medicare.gov site that allows you to input your zip code and will list all of the DME providers in your area. The interesting this about medicare is they have a bidding process for DME. They use this process to ensure fair and affordable costs from quality providers while preventing medicare fraud. Same thing is available under Medicaid.
Also, if you are interested in selling or giving up your DME, here is a blog from especialneeds.com regarding your options.
Love and Compassion,