What You Need to Know About Durable Medical Equipment

There are times after surgery or injury that you may need to stay mobile. Perhaps you’ve broken your leg and need a walker or scooter. For serious illnesses, you may need a hospital bed that can be easily adjusted. For extraordinary circumstances, it is good to know that you can rent medical equipment to assist you during your rehabilitation.

What is DME?

Durable medical equipment (DME) is the name for equipment and supplies, prescribed by a doctor, that can be used long-term. However, many people only need them for a short period of time. It makes sense to rent these types of supplies as opposed to buying. They can then be sanitized and recycled for use by others. Some examples are:

  • Hospital beds
  • Traction equipment
  • Oxygen tanks and ventilators
  • Bath chairs
  • Dialysis machines
  • Wheelchairs, walkers, crutches or scooters

Who Needs DME?

There are many reasons someone may need medical supplies or equipment in the home. For those in hospice care, caretakers may need to have supplies to administer medication, for catheterization or to keep those that are bedridden from getting bedsores. The elderly may have mobility issues that require the use of walkers or wheelchairs. For those who have had a devastating injury or illness, there may be a need for traction equipment, commode chairs, hospital beds or special chairs. There are also those with chronic disease or debilitating illnesses that may need everything from feeding equipment to pressure pads.

Does Insurance Cover DME?

There are multiple ways to get help with the cost of DME. If you are covered by or qualify for any of the programs listed below, contact your plan administrator to find out what equipment and supplies are reimbursable. Your physician may also be able to help you.

Private Insurance

Most private insurance companies pay for prescribed equipment and supplies. They may even pay for the cost of changes to the home that are deemed necessary for mobility or safety.

VA Benefits

Veterans may have their DME covered through the Veteran’s Administration with little to no copay.


Medicare covers many types of DME, often at 80%, but some things like bathroom grab bars may not be covered because they are not considered medical equipment. Coverage may also vary state by state.


Medicaid has strict income rules to qualify. Low-income patients that are approved for Medicaid coverage may have much or all of their DME paid.

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