Patient & Caregiver Resources

Resources for Patients and Caregivers

Patient Education Resources:
BOOKLETS AND MANUALS:
FORMS AND POLICIES:
Healthcare Resource Sites:
Health Conditions and Organizations:

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Government and Social Services:

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Help for Patients & Caregivers

10 Tips for Family Caregivers:
  1. Caregiving is a job and respite is your earned right. Reward yourself with respite breaks often.
  2. Watch out for signs of depression, and don't delay in getting professional help when you need it.
  3. When people offer to help, accept the offer and suggest specific things that they can do.
  4. Educate yourself about your loved one's condition and how to communicate effectively with doctors.
  5. There's a difference between caring and doing. Be open to technologies and ideas that promote your loved one's independence.
  6. Trust your instincts. Most of the time they'll lead you in the right direction.
  7. Caregivers often do a lot of lifting, pushing, and pulling. Be good to your back.
  8. Grieve for your losses, and then allow yourself to dream new dreams.
  9. Seek support from other caregivers. There is great strength in knowing you are not alone.
  10. Stand up for your rights as a caregiver and a citizen.

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Tips for Family Caregivers from Doctors
  • Write questions down so you won’t forget them
  • Be clear about what you want to say to the doctor. Try not to ramble.
  • If you have lots of things to talk about, make a consultation appointment, so the doctor can allow enough time to meet with you in an unhurried way.
  • Educate yourself about your loved one’s disease or disability. With all the information on the Internet it is easier than ever before.
  • Learn the routine at your doctor’s office and/or the hospital so you can make the system work for you, not against you.
  • Recognize that not all questions have answers—especially those beginning with “why.”
  • Separate your anger and sense of impotence about not being able to help your loved one as much as you would like from your feeling about the doctor. Remember, you are both on the same side.
  • Appreciate what the doctor is doing to help and say thank you from time to time.

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Care Management Techniques You Can Use

Did you ever wish you could just pick up the phone and call someone who would take stock of your situation, help you access the right services, counsel you and your family to help resolve some of your differences, then monitor your progress with an eye toward channeling your energy and abilities as effectively as possible? If your answer is "yes," you're not alone. Having the help of a care coordinator (often called a care manager) could make all of our lives easier and less lonesome, and help us be more capable family caregivers. While most of us may not have access to a care coordinator, we can all learn how to think and act like one, thereby reaping numerous benefits for our loved ones and ourselves.

What Is Care Coordination?

Although every case is different, the care coordination approach usually involves:

  • Gathering information from healthcare providers.
  • An assessment of your care recipient and the home environment.
  • Research into available public and/or private services and resources to meet your loved one’s needs.
  • Ongoing communication between all parties to keep information up-to-date and services appropriate and effective.
Unfortunately, an assessment of your abilities and needs is not necessarily a standard part of the process, but it should be. A complete view of the situation cannot be gained without one. An objective analysis of your health, emotional state, other commitments, etc., are key elements in determining how much you can and cannot do yourself, and what type of outside support is needed to ensure your loved one's health and safety.

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Become Your Own Care Coordinator

By learning and applying at least some of the care coordination techniques and ideas that follow, you'll be in a much better position to develop an organized course of action that will, hopefully, make you feel more confident and in control - a goal well worth working toward.

Educate yourself on the nature of the disease or disability with which you're dealing. Reliable information is available from the health agency that deals with your loved one's condition and the National Institutes of Health. When using the Internet, stick with well-known medical sites. Understanding what is happening to your care recipient will provide you with the core knowledge you need to go forward. It will also make you a better advocate when talking with healthcare professionals.

Write down your observations of the present situation including:

  • Your loved one’s ability to function independently, both physically and mentally.
  • The availability of family and/or friends to form a support network to share the care.
  • The physical environment: Is it accessible or can it be adapted at reasonable cost?
  • Your other responsibilities — at work, at home, and in the community.
  • Your own health and physical abilities.
  • Your financial resources, available insurance, and existence of healthcare or end-of-life documents.
This assessment will help you come to a realistic view of the situation. It will let you know the questions to which you need answers. It can be a handy baseline for charting your caregiving journey and reminding you just how much you've learned along the way.

Hold a family conference. At least everyone in the immediate family should be told what's going on. A meeting can set the stage for divvying up responsibilities so that there are fewer misunderstandings down the road when lots of help may be needed. A member of the clergy, a professional care coordinator, or even a trusted friend can serve as an impartial moderator. A family meeting is a good way to let everyone know they can play a role, even if they are a thousand miles away. It can help you, the primary family caregiver, from bearing the brunt of all the work all of the time.

Keep good records of emergency numbers, doctors, daily medications, special diets, back-up people, and other pertinent information relating to your loved one's care. Update as necessary. This record will be invaluable if something happens to you, or if you need to make a trip to the ER. If you can maintain a computer-based record, that will make updating all that much easier and it might even allow you to provide the medical team with direct access to the information.

Join a support group, or find another caregiver with whom to converse. In addition to emotional support, you'll likely pick up practical tips as well. Professionals network with each other all the time to get emotional support and find answers to problems or situations they face. Why shouldn't family caregivers?

Start advance planning for difficult decisions that may lie ahead. It's never too early to discuss wills, advance directives, and powers of attorney, but there comes a time when it is too late. It is also vital that you and your loved one think through what to do if you should be incapacitated, or, worse, die first. It can happen.

Develop a care team to help out during emergencies, or over time if your situation is very difficult. In an ideal world there will be lots of people who want to help. More likely you'll be able to find one or two people to call on in an emergency or to help with small chores. The critical thing is to be willing to tell others what you need and to accept their help.

Establish a family regimen. When things are difficult to begin with, keeping a straightforward daily routine can be a stabilizer, especially for people who find change upsetting and confusing.

Approach some of your hardest caregiving duties like a professional. It's extraordinarily difficult to separate your family role from your caregiving role, to lock your emotions up in a box while you focus on practical chores and decisions. But it is not impossible to gain some distance some of the time. It requires an almost single-minded approach to getting the job at hand done as efficiently and effectively as possible. It takes practice, but is definitely worth the effort.

©Caregiver Action Network | www.caregiveraction.org | Phone: (202) 454-3970

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Seating & Mobility

As a caregiver, you need to be very understanding to the individual's needs. This is a very hard time as they are being told they need to start living their life in a different manor than they had done so previously. It will be most beneficial to educate them, either with a professional, or through a support group. By becoming involved in different activities with others in the same condition, the individual will be able to make the transition much easier. As far as the actual device, you will want to make sure that the individual is fully capable of performing all the operations of the mobility device and can do so in a comfortable manner. Areas to pay close attention to include an adjustable backrest, a suspension system, a fore-and-aft track adjustment, an up-and-down seat adjustment, an armrest and/or footrest, and lumbar region support.

How do you care for your mobility device?

The most important areas that you need to pay attention to are referred to as the 3 B’s…Bad batteries, bent wheel rims and failed bearings. If you notice something that doesn’t seem right, but it isn’t all too annoying, you should still get it looked at right away. This could prevent a more severe accident from happening. So as the saying goes “it’s better to be safe than sorry”.

When a wheelchair is purchased, you will want to make sure that all the correct adjustments and modifications are made. This needs to be done by a professional and should take up to a couple of hours if done correctly. As long as the proper measures are taken initially, the work of maintaining the device will be substantially easier.

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Additional Resources

It's always wise to find out what your county and state have to offer in the way of services, even if you think you won't qualify for them. Check the blue pages of your phone book for the numbers, or go on line. Counties and states all have web sites. Type the name of your state or county and state into any major search engine i.e. Iowa, or Montgomery County, PA. Navigate from there to locate the Department of Health and Human Services and the specific office most relevant to your needs, such as office on disabilities, elder affairs, or maternal and child health.

Other good sources of information include your local hospital or clinic (social work department), area adult day centers, social service and faith-based agencies, and/or the local chapter of the health agency that focuses on your loved one's condition. It is by no means certain that any of these will offer caregiver support services, but they are good places to check, and they are good sources for information about services to directly support your loved one.

The National Family Caregivers Association (NFCA) is a grassroots organization created to educate, support, empower, and advocate for the millions of Americans who care for chronically ill, aged, or disabled loved ones. NFCA is the only constituency organization that reaches across the boundaries of different diagnoses, different relationships, and different life stages to address the common needs and concerns of all family caregivers. NFCA serves as a public voice for family caregivers to the press, to Congress and the general public. NFCA offers publications, information, referral services, caregiver support, and advocacy.

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Caregiver-Specific Web Sites

There are a variety of Web sites that offer information and support for family caregivers, in addition to those from specific organizations.

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Medicare & Insurance Guide

Both Medicare and private health insurance plans pay for a large portion or sometimes even all costs associated with many types of medical equipment used in the home. This type of equipment is referred to as durable medical equipment or home medical equipment. The guide below will help you understand the Medicare guidelines related to home medical equipment. Most health insurance plans have similar rules to Medicare, but you should know that all private health insurance plans vary and the specific rules of your plan may differ from these Medicare guidelines. We accept most of the major health insurance plans. We would be happy to work with you and your insurance company to help you understand how your plan works as it relates to home medical equipment needed by you or a loved one.

I. Guide to Medicare Coverage
Who qualifies for Medicare benefits?
  • Individuals 65 years of age or older
  • Individuals under 65 with permanent kidney failure (beginning three months after dialysis begins), or
  • Individuals under 65, permanently disabled and entitled to Social Security benefits (beginning 24 months after the start of disability benefits)

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The Different Benefits of Traditional Medicare
  • Medicare Part A benefits cover hospital stays, home health care and hospice services.
  • Medicare Part B benefits cover physician visits, laboratory tests, ambulance services and home medical equipment.
  • While oftentimes you do not have to pay a monthly fee to have Part A benefits (you only have to pay money when you use the services), the Part B program requires a monthly premium to stay enrolled (even if you do not use the services). That premium will be set annually by medicare.
  • Typically, this amount will be taken from your Social Security check.
  • Medicare Part D offers optional program benefits that cover prescription drugs.
  • For more information about your benefits or making coverage decisions, you can visit the official website for Medicare benefits at www.medicare.gov.

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What Can You Expect to Pay?
  • Going forward, your premium is set annually by medicare.
  • Unfortunately, your medical equipment supplier cannot automatically waive this 20 percent or your deductible without suffering penalties from Medicare. They must attempt to collect the coinsurance and deductible if those charges are not covered by another insurance plan; however, certain exceptions can be made if you meet qualifying financial hardships established by your supplier.
  • If you have a supplemental insurance policy, that plan may pick up this portion of your responsibility after your supplemental plan’s deductible has been satisfied.
  • If your medical equipment supplier does not accept assignment with Medicare you may be asked to pay the full price up front, but they will file a claim on your behalf to Medicare. In turn, Medicare will process the claim and mail you a check to cover a portion of your expenses if the charges are approved.

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Other possible costs:
  • Medicare will pay only for items that meet your basic needs. Oftentimes you will find that your supplier offers a wide selection of products that vary slightly in appearance or features. You may decide that you prefer the products that offer these additional features. Your supplier should give you the option to allow you to privately pay a little extra money to get the product that you really want.
  • To take advantage of this opportunity, a new form has been approved by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) that allows you to upgrade to a piece of equipment that you like better than the other standard option you may otherwise qualify for. This form is known as the Advance Beneficiary Notice or ABN.
  • The ABN your supplier completes for you must detail how the products differ, and requires a signature to indicate that you agree to pay the difference in the retail costs between two similar items. Your supplier will typically accept assignment on the standard product and apply that cost toward the purchase of the fancier item, thus requiring less money out of your pocket.

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Purpose of ABN
  • The Advance Beneficiary Notice of Non Coverage will also be used to notify you ahead of time that Medicare will probably not pay for a certain item or service in a specific situation, even if Medicare might pay under different circumstances. The form should be detailed enough that you understand why Medicare will probably not pay for the item you are requesting.
  • The purpose of the form is to allow you to make an informed decision about whether or not to receive the item or service knowing that you may have additional out-of-pocket expenses.

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Durable Medical Equipment (DME) Defined
  • In order for any item to be covered under Medicare, it typically has to meet the test of durability. Medicare will pay for medical equipment when the item:
  • Withstands repeated use (which excludes many disposable items such as underpads)
  • Is used for a medical purpose (meaning there is an underlying condition which the item should improve)
  • Is useless in the absence of illness or injury (which excludes any item that is preventive in nature such as bathroom safety items used to prevent injuries)
  • Used in the home (which excludes all items that are needed only when leaving the confines of the home setting)

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Understanding Assignment (a claim-by-claim contract)
  • When a supplier accepts assignment, they are agreeing to accept Medicare’s approved amount as payment in full.
  • You will be responsible for 20 percent of that approved amount. This is called your coinsurance.
  • You also will be responsible for the deductible, that is set annually by medicare.
  • If you have chosen to receive an upgraded, fancier product than what Medicare typically covers, you will also be responsible for any additional amounts disclosed on the Advance Beneficiary Notice that identifies the additional features and fees that you have approved.
  • If a supplier does not accept assignment with Medicare, you will be responsible for paying the full amount upfront. The supplier will still file a claim on your behalf and any reimbursement made by Medicare will be paid to you directly. (Suppliers must still notify you in advance, using the Advance Beneficiary Notice, if they do not believe Medicare will pay for your claim.)

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Mandatory Submission of Claims
  • Every supplier is required to submit a claim for covered services within one year from the date of service. However if the item is never covered by Medicare, your supplier is not obligated to submit a claim.

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The role of the physician with respect to home medical equipment:
  • Every item billed to Medicare requires a physician’s order or a special form called a Certificate of Medical Necessity (CMN), and sometimes additional documentation will be required such as copies of office visit notes from prior visits with your physician or healthcare provider or copies of test results relevant to the prescription of your medical equipment.
  • Nurse Practitioners, Physician Assistants, Interns, Residents and Clinical Nurse Specialists can also order medical equipment and sign CMNs when they are treating you.
  • All physicians and healthcare providers have the right to refuse to complete documentation for equipment they did not order, so make sure you consult with your physician or healthcare provider about your need for medical equipment or supplies before requesting an item from a supplier.
  • For every new item prescribed by your physician or healthcare provider, you should have a recent office visit that documents the reasons for ordering the equipment and products. Many items will now require you to have an in-person office visit with your doctor or healthcare provider to discuss the need and justification for the prescription of medical equipment before a supplier can fill those orders.

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Prescriptions before Delivery:
  • For some items, Medicare requires your supplier to have completed documentation (which is more than just a call-in order or a prescription from your doctor or healthcare provider) before they can deliver these items to you:
  • Decubitus care (wheelchair cushions, pressure-relieving surfaces placed on a hospital bed and air-fluidized beds)
    • Seat lift mechanisms
    • TENS Units (for pain management)
    • Power Operated Vehicles/Scooters
    • Electric or Power Wheelchairs and related options and accessories
    • Negative Pressure Wound Therapy (wound vacs)
  • The list of items that require an office visit and written order before delivery has been expanded due to new provisions of the Affordable Care Act to include all items that cost more than $1000, and commonly prescribed items such as oxygen, hospital beds, wheelchairs and more. There are over 150 products across multiple product categories that are affected. Your supplier will be able to tell you if the item ordered by your doctor or healthcare provider is subject to these additional requirements.
  • Your supplier cannot deliver these products to you without a written order from your doctor or healthcare provider, nor can they get the documentation at a later date because if they do, Medicare can never make payment for those products to you or your supplier. So please be patient with your supplier while they collect the required documentation from your physician or healthcare provider.

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How does Medicare pay for and allow you to use the equipment?
  1. Typically there are four ways Medicare will pay for a covered item:
    • Purchase it outright, then the equipment belongs to you,
    • Rent it continuously until it is no longer needed, or
    • Consider it a “capped” rental in which Medicare will rent the item for a total of 13 months and consider the item purchased after having made 13 payments.
    • Medicare will not allow you to purchase these items outright (even if you think you will need it for a long period of time).
    • This is to allow you to spread out your coinsurance instead of paying in one lump sum.
    • It also protects the Medicare program from paying too much should your needs change earlier than expected.
    • If you have oxygen therapy, Medicare will make rental payments for a total of 36 months during which time this fee covers all service and accessories.
    • Beyond the 36 months (for a period of two additional years), Medicare will limit payments to a small fee for monthly gas or liquid contents, where applicable, and a limited service fee to check the equipment every six months.
  2. After an item has been purchased for you, you will be responsible for calling your supplier anytime that item needs to be serviced or repaired. When necessary, Medicare will pay for a portion of repairs, labor, replacement parts, and for temporary loaner equipment to use during the time your product is in for servicing. All of this is contingent on the fact that you still need the item at the time of repair and continue to meet Medicare’s coverage criteria for the item being repaired.

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What is competitive bidding?

In many parts of the country, a new program called Competitive Bidding will require you to obtain certain medical equipment from specific, Medicare-contracted suppliers in order for Medicare to pay. Not all products are subject to competitive bidding in the same area. If you are located in a city where the program is in effect, you will need to obtain some or all of the following items from a contracted supplier:

  • Oxygen, oxygen equipment, and supplies
  • Standard power wheelchairs, scooters, and related accessories
  • Enteral nutrition, equipment, and supplies
  • Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) devices and Respiratory Assist Devices (RADs), and related supplies and accessories
  • Hospital beds and related accessories
  • Walkers and related accessories
  • Support surfaces (Group 1 and Group 2 mattresses and overlays)
  • Manual Wheelchairs and accessories
  • Mail-order and direct delivery of diabetic supplies
  • Nebulizers
  • Home infusion therapy including insulin pumps and supplies
  • TENS Units and supplies
  • Patient Lifts
  • Commodes
  • Seat Lifts
  • Negative Pressure Wound Therapy Devices and related supplies and accessories

Competitive Bidding areas are designated based on the zip code of your permanent residence on file with Social Security. To find out if your zip code is affected by Competitive Bidding, call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-4227). You may also visit Medicare.gov and lookup suppliers in your area by zip code (a notice will appear if your area is subject to Competitive Bidding). If medical equipment is marked with an orange star, it will need to be provided by a contracted supplier (also marked with an orange star). Throughout this guide, products that are potentially impacted by the competitive bidding program will be designated with a double asterisk **. Your provider can assist you with answering your questions about competitive bidding and can address whether or not they have been contracted to provide the services you need if subject to competitive bid.

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II. Medicare Supplier Standards

Below is a summary of the standards Medicare requires of home medical equipment suppliers. As an approved Medicare provider, our company meets or exceeds all of these standards.

  1. A supplier must be in compliance with all applicable Federal and State licensure and regulatory requirements and cannot contract with an individual or entity to provide licensed services.
  2. A supplier must provide complete and accurate information on the DMEPOS supplier application. Any changes to this information must be reported to the National Supplier Clearinghouse within 30 days.
  3. An authorized individual (one whose signature is binding) must sign the application for billing privileges.
  4. A supplier must fill orders from its own inventory, or must contract with other companies for the purchase of items necessary to fill the order. A supplier may not contract with any entity that is currently excluded from the Medicare program, any State health care programs, or from any other Federal procurement or non-procurement programs.
  5. A supplier must advise beneficiaries that they may rent or purchase inexpensive or routinely purchased durable medical equipment, and of the purchase option for capped rental equipment.
  6. A supplier must notify beneficiaries of warranty coverage and honor all warranties under applicable State law, and repair or replace free of charge Medicare covered items that are under warranty.
  7. A supplier must maintain a physical facility on an appropriate site. This standard requires that the location is accessible to the public and staffed during posted hours of business. The location must be at least 200 square feet and contain space for storing records.
  8. A supplier must permit CMS, or its agents to conduct on-site inspections to ascertain the supplier’s compliance with these standards. The supplier location must be accessible to beneficiaries during reasonable business hours, and must maintain a visible sign and posted hours of operation.
  9. A supplier must maintain a primary business telephone listed under the name of the business in a local directory or a toll free number available through directory assistance. The exclusive use of a beeper, answering machine, answering service or cell phone during posted business hours is prohibited.
  10. A supplier must have comprehensive liability insurance in the amount of at least $300,000 that covers both the supplier’s place of business and all customers and employees of the supplier. If the supplier manufactures its own items, this insurance must also cover product liability and completed operations.
  11. A supplier must agree not to initiate telephone contact with beneficiaries, with a few exceptions
  12. allowed. This standard prohibits suppliers from contacting a Medicare beneficiary based on a physician’s oral order unless an exception applies.
  13. A supplier is responsible for delivery and must instruct beneficiaries on use of Medicare covered items, and maintain proof of delivery.
  14. A supplier must answer questions and respond to complaints of beneficiaries, and maintain documentation of such contacts.
  15. A supplier must maintain and replace at no charge or repair directly, or through a service contract with another company, Medicare-covered items it has rented to beneficiaries.
  16. A supplier must accept returns of substandard (less than full quality for the particular item) or unsuitable items (inappropriate for the beneficiary at the time it was fitted and rented or sold) from beneficiaries.
  17. A supplier must disclose these supplier standards to each beneficiary to whom it supplies a Medicare-covered item.
  18. A supplier must disclose to the government any person having ownership, financial, or control interest in the supplier.
  19. A supplier must not convey or reassign a supplier number; i.e., the supplier may not sell or allow another entity to use its Medicare billing number.
  20. A supplier must have a complaint resolution protocol established to address beneficiary complaints that relate to these standards. A record of these complaints must be maintained at the physical facility.
  21. Complaint records must include: the name, address, telephone number and health insurance claim number of the beneficiary, a summary of the complaint, and any actions taken to resolve it.
  22. A supplier must agree to furnish CMS any information required by the Medicare statute and implementing regulations.
  23. All suppliers must be accredited by a CMS-approved accreditation organization in order to receive and retain a supplier billing number. The accreditation must indicate the specific products and services, for which the supplier is accredited in order for the supplier to receive payment of those specific products and services (except for certain exempt pharmaceuticals). Implementation Date - October 1, 2009
  24. All suppliers must notify their accreditation organization when a new DMEPOS location is opened.
  25. All supplier locations, whether owned or subcontracted, must meet the DMEPOS quality standards and be separately accredited in order to bill Medicare.
  26. All suppliers must disclose upon enrollment all products and services, including the addition of new product lines for which they are seeking accreditation.
  27. Must meet the surety bond requirements specified in 42 C.F.R. 424.57(c). Implementation date- May 4, 2009
  28. A supplier must obtain oxygen from a state- licensed oxygen supplier.
  29. A supplier must maintain ordering and referring documentation consistent with provisions found in 42 C.F.R. 424.516(f).
  30. DMEPOS suppliers are prohibited from sharing a practice location with certain other Medicare providers and suppliers.
  31. DMEPOS suppliers must remain open to the public for a minimum of 30 hours per week with certain exceptions.

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III. Medicare Coverage for Specific Types of Home Medical Equipment
BiLevel Devices/Respiratory Assist Devices**
  • For a respiratory assist device to be covered, the treating physician or healthcare provider must fully document in your medical record symptoms characteristic of sleep-associated hypoventilation, such as daytime hypersomnolence, excessive fatigue, morning headaches, cognitive dysfunction, dyspnea, etc.
  • A respiratory assist device is covered if you have a clinical disorder characterized as
  • (I) restrictive thoracic disorders (i.e., progressive neuromuscular diseases or severe thoracic cage abnormalities),
  • (II) severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), or
  • (III) central sleep apnea (CSA) or Complex Sleep Apnea (CompSA),
  • (IV) hypoventilation syndrome
  • If you are diagnosed with Obstructive Sleep Apnea, see the coverage criteria for Positive Airway Pressure Devices below.
  • Various tests may need to be performed to establish one of the above diagnosis groups.
  • Three months after starting your therapy you must return to your doctor or healthcare provider for a follow-up to confirm the machine is benefitting you and that you are regularly using the device.
  • This must be documented in your doctor or healthcare provider’s notes from that office visit. Your physician or healthcare provider will be required to respond in writing to questions regarding your continued use along with how well the machine is treating your condition.
  • If you are not using your machine for an average of four hours per night per 24 hour period at the time you meet with your doctor or healthcare provider, then you may be held responsible (via an Advance Beneficiary Notice) to pay for the rental until you meet this requirement.
  • BiLevel Devices are considered to be capped rental items, and that means they cannot be purchased outright. You will own the equipment after Medicare makes 13 payments toward the purchase of the equipment.
  • Depending on which product is ordered, your supplier may not be able to deliver this product to you without a written order or certificate of medical necessity from your doctor or healthcare provider, nor can they get the documentation at a later date because if they do, Medicare can never make payment for those products to you or your supplier. So please be patient with your supplier while they collect the required documentation from your physician or healthcare provider.

** Some or all of the products in this category may be subject to competitive bidding depending on where you live. Ask your supplier for details.

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Commodes**
  • A commode is only covered when you are physically incapable of utilizing regular toilet facilities. For example:
  1. You are confined to a single room, or
  2. You are confined to one level of the home environment and there is no toilet on that level, or
  3. You are confined to the home and there are no toilet facilities in the home.
  • Heavy-duty commodes are covered if you weigh over 300 pounds.
  • Commodes with detachable arms are covered if your body configuration requires extra width, or if the arms are needed to transfer in and out of the chair.

** Some or all of the products in this category may be subject to competitive bidding depending on where you live. Ask your supplier for details.

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Hospital Beds**
  • A hospital bed is covered if you have visited your doctor or healthcare provider and during an office visit your doctor or healthcare provider documents in your chart that one or more of the following criteria (1-4) are met:
  1. You have a medical condition which requires positioning of the body in ways not feasible with an ordinary bed (elevation of the head/upper body less than 30 degrees does not usually require the use of a hospital bed), or
  2. You require positioning of the body in ways not feasible with an ordinary bed in order to alleviate pain, or
  3. You require the head of the bed to be elevated more than 30 degrees most of the time due to congestive heart failure, chronic pulmonary disease, or problems with aspiration. Pillows or wedges must have been considered and ruled out, or
  4. You require traction equipment which can only be attached to a hospital bed.
  • Specialty beds that allow the height of the bed to be adjusted are covered if you require this feature to permit transfers to a chair, wheelchair or standing position.
  • A semi-electric bed is covered if your medical condition requires frequent changes in body position and/or you have an immediate need for a change in body position.
  • Heavy-duty/extra-wide beds can be covered if you weigh over 350 pounds.
  • The total electric bed is not covered because it is considered a convenience feature. If you prefer to have the total electric feature, your supplier usually can apply the cost of the qualifying hospital bed toward the monthly rental price of the total electric model. You will need to sign an Advance Beneficiary Notice (ABN) and will be responsible to pay the difference in the retail charges between the two items every month.
  • Hospital beds are a capped rental item, and that means they cannot be purchased outright. You will own the equipment after Medicare makes 13 payments toward the purchase of the equipment.
  • Depending on which product is ordered, your supplier may not be able to deliver this product to you without a written order or certificate of medical necessity from your doctor or healthcare provider, nor can they get the documentation at a later date because if they do, Medicare can never make payment for those products to you or your supplier. So please be patient with your supplier while they collect the required documentation from your physician or healthcare provider.

** Some or all of the products in this category may be subject to competitive bidding depending on where you live. Ask your supplier for details.

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Mobility Products: Canes, Walkers, Wheelchairs, and Scooters**
  • Essentially the Medicare policy on mobility products requires that Medicare funds are only used to pay for:
  • Mobility needs for daily activities within the home
  • The lowest level of equipment required to accomplish these tasks.
  • The most medically appropriate equipment (that meets your needs, not your wants)
  • Medicare requires that your physician or healthcare provider and supplier evaluate your needs and expected use of the mobility product to determine which item you will qualify for.
  • They must determine which is the least level of equipment needed to help you be mobile within your home to accomplish daily activities by asking the following questions:
  • Will a cane or crutches allow you to perform these activities in the home?
  • If not, will a walker allow you to accomplish these activities in the home?
  • If not, is there any type of manual wheelchair that will allow you to accomplish these activities in the home?
  • If not, will a scooter allow you to accomplish these activities in the home?
  • If not, will a power chair allow you to accomplish these activities in the home?
  • Keep in mind if you have another higher level product in mind that will allow you to do more beyond the confines of the home setting, you can discuss with your supplier the option to upgrade to a higher level or more comfortable product by paying an additional out of pocket fee using the Advance Beneficiary Notice (ABN).
  • Your home must be evaluated to ensure it will accommodate the use of any mobility product.
  • A face-to-face examination with your physician or healthcare provider to specifically discuss your mobility limitations and need for powered mobility is required prior to the initial setup of a power chair, scooter or manual wheelchair.
  • In some cases for power mobility items you may also be asked to see a physical therapist or occupational therapist to determine the best fit and equipment selection.
  • The majority of all manual and power wheelchairs are considered capped rental items, and that means they cannot be purchased outright. You will own the equipment after Medicare makes 13 payments toward the purchase of the equipment.
  • Depending on which product is ordered, your supplier may not be able to deliver this product to you without a written order or certificate of medical necessity from your doctor or healthcare provider, nor can they get the documentation at a later date because if they do, Medicare can never make payment for those products to you or your supplier. So please be patient with your supplier while they collect the required documentation from your physician or healthcare provider.

** Some or all of the products in this category may be subject to competitive bidding depending on where you live. Ask your supplier for details.

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Nebulizers**
  • Nebulizer machines, medications and related accessories are usually covered if you have obstructive pulmonary disease, but can also be covered to deliver specific medications if you have HIV, Cystic Fibrosis, bronchiectasis, pneumocystosis, complications of organ transplants, or for persistent thick or tenacious pulmonary secretions.
  • You may obtain up to a three month’s supply of nebulizer medications and accessories at a time as long as you continue to regularly use the medications through your machine.
  • If at any time you stop using your medications, please notify your supplier.
  • Nebulizer machines are considered to be capped rental items, and that means they cannot be purchased outright. You will own the equipment after Medicare makes 13 payments toward the purchase of the equipment.
  • Depending on which product is ordered, your supplier may not be able to deliver this product to you without a written order or certificate of medical necessity from your doctor or healthcare provider, nor can they get the documentation at a later date because if they do, Medicare can never make payment for those products to you or your supplier. So please be patient with your supplier while they collect the required documentation from your physician or healthcare provider.

** Some or all of the products in this category may be subject to competitive bidding depending on where you live. Ask your supplier for details.

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Non-covered items (partial listing):
  • Adult diapers
  • Bathroom safety equipment
  • Hearing aides
  • Syringes/needles
  • Van lifts or ramps
  • Exercise equipment
  • Humidifiers/Air Purifiers
  • Raised toilet seats
  • Massage devices
  • Stair lifts
  • Emergency communicators
  • Low vision aides
  • Grab bars
  • Elastic garments

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Oxygen**
  • Your doctor or healthcare provider must start with an office visit to discuss your symptoms before ordering any testing. If your symptoms are indicative of a chronic lung condition or other disease that requires long term oxygen therapy, Medicare will likely cover oxygen when the test results meet the coverage criteria outlined below.
  • Oxygen is covered if you have significant hypoxemia in a chronic stable state when:
  • You have a severe lung disease or hypoxemia that might be expected to improve with oxygen therapy, and
  • Your blood gas levels or oxygen saturation levels indicate the need for oxygen therapy, and
  • Your oxygen study was performed by a physician, qualified lab, other qualified provider and
  • Alternative treatments have been tried or deemed clinically ineffective.
  • Categories/Groups of oxygen therapy are based on the test results to measure your oxygen. There are two types of tests that can be used for this purpose. An Arterial Blood Gas (ABG) test is an invasive procedure which provides detailed information and a direct measurement of oxygen in arterial blood (from an artery). ABG test results are reported in millimeters of mercury (mmHg). A saturation test (SAT) is a non-invasive procedure that indirectly measures oxygen saturation using a sensor typically placed on the ear or finger. SAT test results are reported in percentages (%).
  • Group I Criteria: mmHG = 55, or saturation = 88%
  • For these results you must return to your physician or healthcare provider between 9-12 months after the initial visit to discuss whether your oxygen therapy should continue for lifetime or for a shorter period if the need is expected to end. Typically, you will not have to be retested when you return to your physician or healthcare provider for the follow-up visit.
  • Group II Criteria: 56-59 mmHg, or 89% saturation
  • For these results, you must return for another office visit with your physician or healthcare provider to discuss your oxygen therapy and for these borderline results you will also have to be retested within 3 months of the first test to continue therapy for lifetime or until the need is expected to end
  • Group III Criteria: mmHg = 60 or saturation = 90% is considered to be not medically necessary.
  • Note on nocturnal oxygen therapy: If you only require the use of oxygen during the nighttime, your doctor should rule out obstructive sleep apnea as a cause for the hypoxemia symptoms you may be experiencing. If obstructive sleep apnea is a potential factor, Medicare will not cover oxygen therapy until you have officially had the sleep apnea diagnosed and treated. When obstructive sleep apnea is a factor, testing for oxygen needs can only begin after the apneas are controlled with appropriate positive airway therapy using a CPAP or Bi-PAP.
  • Oxygen will be paid as a rental for the first 36 months. After that time, if you still need the equipment, Medicare will no longer make rental payments on the equipment. However, if equipment is still necessary, your supplier will continue to provide the equipment to you for an additional 24 months. During this two year service period, Medicare will pay your supplier for refilling your oxygen cylinders and for a semi-annual maintenance fee.
  • After 60 months of service through Medicare you may choose to receive new equipment.
  • Depending on which product is ordered, your supplier may not be able deliver this product to you without a written order or certificate of medical necessity from your doctor or healthcare provider, nor can they get the documentation at a later date because if they do, Medicare can never make payment for those products to you or your supplier. So please be patient with your supplier while they collect the required documentation from your physician or healthcare provider.

** Some or all of the products in this category may be subject to competitive bidding depending on where you live. Ask your supplier for details.

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Parenteral and Enteral therapy**
  • Parenteral therapy requires all or part of the gastrointestinal tract to be missing. Nutritional formulas are delivered through a vein.
  • Enteral therapy is covered if you cannot swallow or take food orally. Nutrition must be delivered through a tube directly into the gastrointestinal tract.
  • Medicare will not pay for nutritional formulas that are taken orally.
  • Specialty nutrition/formulations can be covered if you have unique nutrient needs or specific disease conditions which are well documented in your physician’s or healthcare provider’s records. In most cases you may have to try standard formulas and document that they are unsuccessful before Medicare will consider the specialty nutrition.

** Some or all of the products in this category may be subject to competitive bidding depending on where you live. Ask your supplier for details.

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Patient Lifts**
  • A lift is covered if transfer between a bed and a chair, wheelchair, or commode requires the assistance of more than one person and, if without the use of a lift, you would be bed confined.
  • An electric lift mechanism is not covered; because it is considered a convenience feature. If you prefer to have the electric mechanism, your supplier can usually apply the cost of the manual lift toward the purchase price of the electric model. You will need to sign an Advance Beneficiary Notice (ABN) and would be responsible to pay the difference in the retail charges between the two items on a monthly basis.
  • Patient lifts are considered to be capped rental items, and that means they cannot be purchased outright. You will own the equipment after Medicare makes 13 payments toward the purchase of the equipment.
  • Your supplier cannot deliver this product to you without a written order from your doctor or healthcare provider, nor can they get the documentation at a later date because if they do, Medicare can never make payment for those products to you or your supplier. So please be patient with your supplier while they collect the required documentation from your physician or healthcare provider.

** Some or all of the products in this category may be subject to competitive bidding depending on where you live. Ask your supplier for details.

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Support Surfaces**>
  • Group 1 products are designed to be placed on top of a standard hospital bed or home mattresses. They can utilize gel, foam, water or air, and are covered if you are:
  • Completely immobile OR
  • Have limited mobility or any stage ulcer on the trunk or pelvis (and one of the following):
  • impaired nutritional status
  • fecal or urinary incontinence
  • altered sensory perception
  • compromised circulatory status
  • Group 2 products take many forms, but are typically powered pressure reducing mattresses or overlays. They are covered if you have one of three conditions:
  • Multiple stage II ulcers on the pelvis or trunk while on a comprehensive treatment program for at least a month using a Group 1 product, and at the close of that month, the ulcers worsened or remained the same. (Monthly follow-up is required by a clinician to ensure that the treatment program is modified and followed. This product is only covered while ulcers are still present.) OR
  • Large or multiple Stage III or IV ulcers on the trunk or pelvis (Monthly follow-up is required by a clinician to ensure that the treatment program is modified and followed. This product is only covered while ulcers are still present.) OR
  • A recent myocutaneous flap or skin graft for an ulcer on the trunk or pelvis within the last 60 days where you were immediately placed on Group 2 or 3 support surface prior to discharge from the hospital and you have been discharged within the last 30 days.
  • A physician or healthcare provider must make monthly assessments as to whether continued use of the equipment is required. Sometimes your physician or healthcare provider may order a home healthcare nurse to come visit you to make these assessments.
  • Medicare will only pay for the rental of a Group 2 product until your ulcers completely heal. If your ulcers have healed you must return the equipment to your supplier or make arrangements to pay for future monthly rentals privately using an Advance Beneficiary Notice (ABN).
  • Group 3 products are air-fluidized beds and are only covered if you meet ALL of the following conditions:
  • A stage III or stage IV pressure ulcer, and
  • Are bedridden or chair bound as the result of limited mobility, and
  • In the absence of an air-fluidized bed would require institutionalization, and
  • An alternate course of conservative treatment has been tried for at least one month without improvement of the wound, and
  • All other alternative equipment has been considered and ruled out.
  • A physician or healthcare provider must assess and evaluate you after completion of a course of conservative therapy within one month prior to ordering the Group 3 support surface.
  • A trained adult caregiver must be available to assist you. Medicare does not cover the cost of hiring a caregiver, or for structural modifications to your home to accommodate this equipment.
  • Your supplier cannot deliver these products to you without a written order from your doctor or healthcare provider, nor can they get the documentation at a later date because if they do, Medicare can never make payment for those products to you or your supplier. So please be patient with your supplier while they collect the required documentation from your physician or healthcare provider.

** Some or all of the products in this category may be subject to competitive bidding depending on where you live. Ask your supplier for details.

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Urological Supplies
  • Urinary catheters and external urinary collection devices are covered to drain or collect urine if you have permanent urinary incontinence or permanent urinary retention. Permanent incontinence and retention are defined as a condition that is not expected to be medically or surgically corrected within 3 months.
  • A maximum of six catheters may be used per day (up to 200 per month), unless it is determined that a higher number is medically necessary by your physician or healthcare provider, and these unique circumstances are specifically documented in your medical records.
  • When at home, you may receive up to a 3-month supply at one time.

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FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions

CPAP FAQ

Q. I have been prescribed a CPAP, what is the benefit of using one?

A. Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) devices maintain open airways in patients suffering from obstructive sleep apnea by providing airlow at prescribed pressures during sleep. Most patients receiving CPAP therapy report better quality sleep, increased alertness, more energy and improved cognitive function. In order for treatment modalities to be effective, patients must be compliant with their prescription. Medical Necessities will work closely with you to maximize compliance through follow-up monitoring and careful instruction.

Q. How often do I need to clean my mask? How often does it need to be replaced?

A. It is very important to clean your mask, headgear, tubing and humidifier on a regular basis. If maintained properly, your mask and headgear should last approximately 3-6 months.

    On a daily basis
  • Wash the mask or pillows with a soft cloth. Wash with a solution of warm water and a mild, liquid detergent. Rinse thoroughly, and allow mask or pillows to air dry.If you have a humidifier, empty water out daily and replace with distilled water.
    Twice weekly
  • With a soft cloth, wash the swivel connector and tubing in a solution of warm water and a mild liquid detergent. Rinse thoroughly and allow them to air dry.
    Weekly basis
  • If you have a humidifier, use one cup of vinegar to a sink full of water and soak humidifier.

Q. My throat and nose feel dry when I use my CPAP. Is there anything I can do for this?

A. An over-the-counter saline nasal spray can be used to help with this dryness. If you do not find this helpful, call our office to discuss with our respiratory department.

Q. My CPAP mask sometimes leaks air. Is this normal?

A. Make sure your CPAP is turned on before applying the mask. For the best fit, position the straps on your headgear while lying down. Overtightening the headgear can worsen mask leaks and cause redness or sores on the skin. A small leak at the sides or bottom of the mask is acceptable, but air should not leak into the eyes, as this can cause dry eyes.

Q. Who do I call to order CPAP supplies?

A. You can call Medical Necessities at 1-800-680-8008 or you can email us through the" contact us" page.

Q. Do I need to use my CPAP every night?

A. Your CPAP has been prescribed by your doctor and should be used every night for maximum effectiveness. In the beginning, you may not be able to use your CPAP all night long. You may need to get used to it by wearing it a few hours more each night until you are able to use it all night long.

Oxygen FAQ

Q. I have heard that oxygen is addictive. Is this true?

A. No, oxygen is not addictive.

Q. Is it dangerous to be on oxygen?

A. When used properly, oxygen is not dangerous. Oxygen is not flammable, but is does support combustion. Oxygen needs to be kept away from sparks or open flames.

Q. How long will I have to be on oxygen?

A. Oxygen is prescribed by your doctor, for many diagnoses. Some diagnoses will only require short term oxygen therapy, will others will require long term oxygen therapy. Your doctor is the final authority on how long you will need oxygen therapy.

Q. How much will I have to pay to be on oxygen?

A. This is dependent upon your insurance. Medicare covers 80% of the medicare allowable, as long as the oxygen is considered medically necessary by your doctor and certain criteria is met. Insurance companies differ on the amount of coverage.

Q. Can I turn up the liter flow on my oxygen?

A. No, your doctor has prescribed a liter flow specifically for you. If you feel like you are not getting enough oxygen, you need to call your doctor.

Q. Can I still travel with oxygen?

A. Yes, you need to make arrangements with Medical Necessities at least two weeks in advance.