empty beds in a hospital

Key Takeaways

  • Durable Medical Equipment (DME) describes medical products that can be used in the home to aid those with medical conditions.
  • A common DME that many patients find useful in the home are hospital beds.
  • Medicare Part B generally covers DME items – but only under specific criteria.
  • The cost of a hospital bed will depend on the type and features of the bed itself, but prices can range anywhere between $500 and $10,000.
  • If you don’t meet the Medicare-qualifying requirements for hospital bed coverage, there are various finance options available.

Durable Medical Equipment (DME) describes items that can withstand prolonged medical usage. A common DME item that patients seek coverage for are hospital beds inside the home. In order to receive this coverage, individuals have to meet a certain Medicare qualifying diagnosis or specification for the hospital bed. Medicare Part B generally covers DME items – but only under specific criteria. In order to qualify for Medicare Part B coverage, the medical equipment must:

  1. Endure repeated usage
  2. Be used strictly for medical purposes
  3. Only be utilized at home

What is Medicare Part B? How Does it Relate to Hospital Beds?

Medicare Part B is a standard part of the Original Medicare program which focuses on medical insurance. Medicare Part B covers services that focus on outpatient care, preventive care, and durable medical equipment.

Durable medical equipment will only be covered by your insurance plan if your healthcare provider and DME suppliers are both enrolled in the Medicare program. If they aren’t enrolled, Medicare will not pay for any future claims.

To gain access to a hospital bed in your home, you must meet the Medicare qualifying diagnosis and/or specifications listed above as to why you need a DME.

Are Hospital Beds Covered by Other Medicare Parts?

Similar to how Medicare Part B provides coverage for at-home hospital beds, there are other plans that also provide assistance for anyone that needs a bed. For example, Medicare Advantage, or Medicare Part C, sells bundle plans from private insurance companies, which includes both Medicare Part A and Part B.

The basic costs required for DME will be covered in addition to other costs that could benefit you. For one thing, not only is the patient receiving inpatient hospital care through Part A, but they’re also benefiting from DME coverage. Similarly, the added benefits that a Medicare Advantage plan could offer you include dental, hearing, and prescription drug coverage.

Before deciding on a plan, we recommend that comparing the rates between a standalone Medicare Part B plan and a Medicare Advantage plan. Make sure to pick the one that benefits you the most in regard to hospital bed coverage.

What Are The Costs?

The costs associated with acquiring a hospital bed are dependent on several factors. For example, costs will be based on the type of hospital bed, method of acquisition (purchase/rent), and if you have health insurance or not. All of these factors come together to drastically affect the final price tag of the item you wish to purchase.

Fortunately, Medicare Part B can cover a portion of your hospital bed, but you should note that the rest of the payment might include out-of-pocket costs. Some of these out-of-pocket costs include a $198 annual deductible alongside an average copayment of 20 percent for the Medicare-approved services provided by your physician. The same coverage benefits will apply for a Medicare Advantage plan.

With this in mind, Medicare will only cover items that cover your basic needs. Should you seek an additional upgrade or alteration for a hospital bed, you might have to pay for those costs out-of-pocket.

Dealing With Home Hospital Bed Costs

As stated previously, the costs of a hospital bed will depend on the type, features, and parts of the bed itself. The price range for a home hospital bed ranges between $500 and $10,000. So for anyone looking for a bed, even with Medicare Part B coverage, the expenses can accrue rather quickly. Nevertheless, there are ways of mitigating these costs.

New vs Used vs Rented

When attempting to find a hospital bed for your home, remember that there are plenty of options to choose from. You can purchase a bed that’s new or used, and you can even look to rent. Each option comes with its pros and cons. Finding the right bed can be tricky, especially when taking into account the costs. How vastly different are the three options?

  1. New Beds – A newly-made bed usually starts at around $500. The cost of these beds will increase in price as new features are added. This is especially true for beds that are semi-electric or fully electric where prices can fluctuate between $1,000 and $2,000. As you start to add railings, IV poles, and bed padding, the costs will only further increase.
  2. Used Beds – In contrast to new beds, a used bed offers a significant price reduction to the consumer. Used beds sell for around $300, and can be found on websites such as eBay or Alibaba. The downside to purchasing a used bed is that they rarely come with a warranty. So in the event that something happens to the bed, you will not be able to replace it for a new one.
  3. Rented Beds – Alternatively, you can save money by renting a bed instead of purchasing one. For anyone that requires a bed for a limited amount of time, this is the perfect option. Not only can you choose between a manual, semi-electric, or electric bed, you get the added benefit that prices for renting a bed are cheap. The monthly cost of renting a bed can be anywhere between $200-$500. Some companies may also charge an additional $50-100 initial set-up fee for installation.

Financing Options for Hospital Beds

If you don’t meet the Medicare-qualifying diagnosis requirements, it’s still possible to find coverage for a hospital bed. There are many finance options available, including state grant programs, a device exchange program, and even a device loan program. These programs offer the following features:

State Grant Program

Through a state grant program, depending on where you live, you will have funding to purchase and acquire the medical equipment you seek. State governments distribute these funds through grants or low-interest loans.

Device Exchange Program

In a device exchange program, the consumer may obtain access to recently refurbished and sterilized medical equipment that is sold at a heavily discounted price. Companies or individuals advertise these products online and typically provide lists of DME on sale to their local community.

Device Loan Program

Finally, there are several companies out there that provide loans on their durable medical equipment for a brief period of time. The premise of this loan program is to allow the consumer to try out the equipment first hand before purchase. In addition, this program serves as a benefit for those people that are replacing or repairing a current item they need. With this in mind, the loan period can last between 2 weeks to 6 months, depending on the individual. Your total loan period may also vary based on which state you live in.

by Lindsay Malzone, Lindsay Malzone is the Medicare expert for Medigap.com. She's been contributing to many well-known publications as an industry expert since 2017. Her passion is educating Medicare beneficiaries on all their supplemental Medicare options so they can make an informed decision on their healthcare coverage.