Aging comes with its share of challenges; this can include unforeseen expenses. One of the most common and most costly fees that the older adults face is for medical care. These expenses can include the usual things like premiums, co-pays, and prescription costs. However, one thing some may not plan for is In-Home Medical Equipment. There is a variety of reasons a patient might require medical equipment at home ranging from mobility issues that require something like a cane, walker or wheelchair to personal needs such as supplemental oxygen or incontinence or diabetic testing supplies. But before you worry about absorbing the full cost of such expenses for yourself or someone that you may be a caretaker for, take a look at these tips.
First thing is first, see your doctor. Although, many items can be purchased in-store or online the first thing that you need to do is see you Primary Care Physician or the Specialist that recommended the medical equipment that you need. There are a few reasons for this step. First, you want to be confident that you are getting the correct equipment. Secondly, your physician or medical group may already have a contracted vendor that they work with, and that could mean that your work pretty much ends here. Aside from signing an agreement, paying any required co-pays and scheduling deliveries, you may not have much more to do. However, even if that is not the case with your particular physician or in-home medical equipment needs, that prescription will come in handy.
Once you know what supplies you will need there are a few calls that you want to make sure that you make before trying any place else. The first is going to be with your medical insurance carrier. (i.e. BlueCross/BlueShield, HealthNet, etc.), if you have one. Again, you’re looking to see if your insurance is contracted with a specific vendor and what your benefits are. If you do not have an individual health plan either through you or your spouse’s employer, you still have three other contacts that you can make. The first call to make is to MediCare, although MediCare plans can vary wildly depending on what plan the subscriber chose. Your next contact would be to MediCaid, even if you are not a current MediCaid subscriber your local office can let you know if you qualify for additional help to meet your needs. Finally, one resource that may be overlooked is the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs or the V.A., remember that there are many benefits available to our veterans and service members.
If you have exhausted all of those avenues and not received adequate help for the supplies you need, don’t fret, you still have plenty of options. Next, I would suggest calling your local County Office or looking at your county website, as they generally have an area itemizing services available or agencies operating in your area. You can also contact your local Senior Center, these centers are usually a treasure trove of services, activities, and information and often cater to the specific needs of the community. You can also contact the manufacturer of the product that you need directly; this is also true of the prescription medications that you may be in the “donut hole” for. This is another reason that prescription comes in handy. Many manufacturers have their programs for free or deeply discounted medical supplies and medications with just a little bit of paperwork and a prescription.
If all else fails and you have to pay for your medical supplies or equipment out of pocket, you don’t necessarily have to pay full price. Remember, to look for coupons on websites for things like diabetic testing equipment and incontinence products. If you’re looking for equipment such as canes, wheelchairs, walkers, or other mobility aids check places like Freecycle, Craigslist, local Facebook groups, thrift stores like The Salvation Army, or yard sales first, before hitting a big box store or online retailer.