Obtaining Durable Medical Equipment

By the Independent Living Coordinators at Society's Assets

Durable medical equipment (DME) is equipment that is used primarily for medical purposes at home, is necessary for the treatment of an illness or disease, and is designed to withstand prolonged use. The following are some tips to consider when obtaining DME.

Selecting a vendor

To locate a company or vendor that sells medical equipment, you can search the yellow pages of the telephone directory under Home Health Care Equipment & Supplies. You also can contact your independent living center for a list of companies.

Start by asking….

  • How long will it take to get the equipment?
  • What is the process for getting equipment funded?
  • Will the cost of the equipment be reimbursed by your health insurance, Medicaid or Medicare?
  • What is the lifetime expectancy of the equipment?

Before you buy, ask….

  • If your equipment has to go in for repair, is a temporary replacement available?
  • How does the vendor service and maintain items such as hospital beds or wheelchairs?
  • What is the vendor's return policy?
  • What options are there if your health condition changes and the equipment no longer meets your needs, particularly before the lifetime expectancy of the equipment ends?
  • Will the new equipment work with equipment you already use?
  • Will the new equipment fit into your living space?
  • What can you do if equipment is not what you expected, or if it limits your mobility?

If renting your equipment, ask….

  • Under what circumstances will the vendor replace equipment during the time it qualifies as a rental?
  • When equipment reaches the rental cap (the maximum length of time you can rent the equipment), what are the pros and cons of purchasing versus a maintenance contract?

When purchasing medical equipment, remember….

  • If the company or vendor will accept assignment it means they accept what Medicaid or Medicare will pay for the equipment, so do not agree to pay for any additional cost.
  • Ask for a prior authorization or purchase order number so you can check on the status of the equipment.

Upon delivery….

  • Check to see if the item you received is the same as what you ordered.
  • Fully inspect the equipment to see if it works for you.
  • Ask for a demonstration so you know how to use the equipment.
Last Revised: June 14, 2016