Medicare Coverage of Medical Equipment

What It Is

Medical equipment (often called "durable medical equipment") rented or purchased for use in the patient's home

What's Covered

Medicare Part B covers a wide variety of medical equipment for use in a patient's home. Some equipment must be rented, some purchased, and sometimes the patient has a choice. Equipment must be medically necessary and prescribed by a doctor.

Covered equipment can include hospital or other special beds; patient lifts; commode chairs; canes, crutches, walkers, and wheelchairs (manual and power); oxygen equipment; traction equipment; infusion and suction pumps; nebulizers; blood sugar monitors; dialysis machines; and other equipment.

Medicare Part B doesn't cover equipment that's permanently installed in a patient's home, such as a ramp, special shower stall, bars, or railings.

If you have a Medicare Part C Medicare Advantage plan: Medicare Part C Medicare Advantage plans, also called Medicare Advantage plans, must cover everything that's included in original Medicare Part A and Part B coverage. But sometimes a Part C plan covers more, with extra services or an expanded amount of coverage. (Co-payments for Part C plans may also be different than those for Part A or Part B.) To find out whether your plan provides extra coverage or requires different co-payments for medical equipment, contact the plan directly.

What Medicare Pays

Medicare Part B pays 80 percent of the Medicare-approved amount for the rental or purchase of covered equipment. See special rules for wheelchairs and scooters.

Warning If covered equipment is rented or purchased from what's called a Medicare "participating supplier," the supplier can't charge more than the Medicare-approved amount for the item. However, a supplier who's enrolled in Medicare but isn't an officially "participating" supplier may charge more than the Medicare-approved amount. In that case, the patient must personally pay the difference between the Medicare-approved amount and the amount the supplier actually charges (on top of the 20 percent of the Medicare-approved amount that Medicare doesn't pay).

Important: Regardless of the rules regarding any particular type of care, in order for Medicare Part A, Medicare Part B, or a Medicare Part C plan to provide coverage, the care must meet two basic requirements:

  • The care must be "medically necessary." This means that it must be ordered or prescribed by a licensed physician or other authorized medical provider, and that Medicare (or a Medicare Part C plan) agrees that the care is necessary and proper. For help getting your care covered, see FAQ: How Can I Increase the Odds That Medicare Will Cover My Medical Service?

  • The care must be performed or delivered by a healthcare provider who participates in Medicare.

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