Do you have an acute condition, that requires short-term oxygen therapy? Or a chronic illness, that requires ongoing oxygen therapy? If so, a portable oxygen concentrator could be the right choice for you. But will Medicare pay for portable oxygen?
The quick answer is “maybe,” assuming you meet their requirements.
What Is a Portable Oxygen Concentrator?
Oxygen tanks are heavy, awkward and hold a limited supply of oxygen. Alternatively, portable oxygen concentrators are lightweight, easy to transport and never run out of oxygen.
Portable oxygen concentrators take in oxygen from the atmosphere and then compress and purify it. The result is the delivery of new, clean oxygen to the patient via a nasal cannula. These machines run on battery power, requiring access to a power source in order to work continuously; however, if you have charged spare batteries then you aren’t reliant on electricity to make it work all the time.
For most patients, a portable oxygen concentrator is more reliable and easier to integrate into daily life than oxygen tanks.
What Will Medicare Pay For?
While Medicare does not cover the cost of purchasing these machines, it will cover the cost of renting oxygen equipment and accessories. To be eligible for rental, Medicare requires the following conditions are met:
- Your doctor says you have severe lung disease or you’re not getting enough oxygen
- Your health might improve with oxygen therapy
- Your arterial blood gas level falls within a certain range
- Other alternative measures have failed.
Once Medicare determines eligibility, you’ll need to find an approved oxygen supplier and determine the rental cost. Medicare will pay up to 80% of the cost of your rented oxygen equipment for up to three years. If your medical need for oxygen continues, you may rent the equipment for an additional two years.
It’s important to note that after five years, the supplier does not have to renew their rental contract with you. Also, before you rent a portable oxygen concentrator make sure your supplier has experience working with Medicare. It can make a difference.
Who Qualifies for Medicare?
If you are 65 or older and have a documented disability or late stage renal disease, you qualify for Medicare assistance. Once you find a Medicare-approved oxygen equipment supplier, your physician will write a detailed order that includes:
- Your pulse or continuous flow rate
- How long it is estimated you’ll need supplementary oxygen
- A detailed description of all necessary equipment
The process of acquiring a portable oxygen concentrator through Medicare is a laborious one for sure. But if approved, portable oxygen concentrators can greatly improve the quality of life for patients in need of oxygen therapy. If denied, you’ll have to start the process all over again.