Durable medical equipment (DME) is equipment that helps you complete your daily activities. It includes a variety of items, such as walkers, wheelchairs, and oxygen tanks. Medicare usually covers DME if the equipment is
- Durable, meaning you can use it multiple times
- Designed to help a medical condition or injury
- Meant for use in your home, although you can also use it outside the home
- Likely to last for three years or more
To be covered by Medicare, DME must be prescribed by a doctor or other primary care provider, in addition to other conditions (see question 4). If you are in a skilled nursing facility (SNF) or are a hospital inpatient, DME is covered under Medicare Part A. Otherwise, it is covered under Part B.
2. What kind of DME does Medicare cover?
Whether you have Original Medicare or a Medicare Advantage Plan, the types of covered equipment should be the same. However, the amount you pay for DME with Original Medicare and with a Medicare Advantage Plan is often different (see question 5).
Examples of DME include wheelchairs, walkers, hospital beds, power scooters, portable oxygen equipment, orthotics, prosthetics, and certain diabetes supplies, among others.
Medicare also covers certain prescription medications and supplies that you use with your DME, even if they are disposable or can only be used once. For example, Medicare covers medications used with nebulizers. Medicare also covers lancets and test strips used with diabetes self-testing equipment. Be sure only to use suppliers that are Medicare-approved or are contract suppliers (see question 6) if you have Original Medicare or that are in network for your Medicare Advantage Plan.
3. What kinds of DME does Medicare not cover?
Medicare does not cover
Equipment mainly intended to help you outside the home. For example, if you can walk on
your own for short distances—enough to get around your house—Medicare does not cover a
motorized scooter that you only need outside the home.
Most items intended only to make things more convenient or comfortable. This includes
stairway elevators, grab bars, air conditioners, and bathtub and toilet seats.