Deal Finder: Seniors can rent durable medical equipment, get assistance from Medicare to buy

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By LATINA EMERSON, The Deal Finder

As people age or suffer from injuries or chronic illnesses, they might require assistance to move around or complete routine tasks safely. Seniors and individuals who are experiencing mobility issues might need the help of durable medical equipment, such as wheelchairs and walkers.

In addition, many older adults could benefit from home modifications because their homes no longer fit their needs. Devices such as railings, grab bars and shower chairs would make it easier for seniors to continue living in their own homes. However, many seniors aren’t obtaining these items, often because they can’t afford them, according to a recent article in The New York Times.

Here are some ways for seniors and people with mobility problems to secure durable medical equipment:

Rent Equipment

If people only need durable medical equipment for a short amount of time, they should consider renting these items in order to save money.

Newnan Health Solutions at 15 Baker Road in Newnan rents a variety of durable medical equipment, including wheelchairs, knee scooters, walkers, rollators (walkers with a chair), crutches, cushions and pillows for people who are bedridden, and bathroom aides (raised toilet seats and grab bars).

“People that need durable medical equipment short term, they can rent it from us on a day-to-day basis,” said Jan Smit, who owns Newnan Health Solutions with his wife Suzette. “It’s much cheaper than buying it if you only need it for a short period.”

Newnan Health Solutions also offers items to make life easier, such as shoe horns to assist with putting on shoes, devices to help put on compression socks and compression hosiery and tools to help people raise themselves, pick up items off the floor and put a jacket over their shoulder if they’re having issues with movement. The retailer also sells belts that can help with moving bedridden patients. For more information about items available at Newnan Health Solutions, call 770-683-6772 or visit https://www.newnanhealthsolutions.com/.

Customers will need to pay out of pocket for these items because Newnan Health Solutions doesn’t have accounts with insurance companies to file claims on behalf of patients. However, customers will receive a receipt they can use to claim a refund.

Absolute Medical Equipment Inc. at 30 East Gordon Road in Newnan also sells medical equipment, such as wheelchairs, seating and positioning equipment, respiratory products, hospital beds and more. For more information, call 678-854-9234 or visit https://www.absolute-medical.com.

Use Medicare Part B

If seniors and individuals with mobility issues need to use durable medical equipment on a long-term basis, Medicare Part B is one way to pay for it. Medicare Part B (medical insurance) covers medically necessary durable medical equipment if a person’s doctor prescribes it for use in their home, according to Medicare.gov.

Some items that are covered include: blood sugar meters, blood sugar test strips, canes, commode chairs, continuous passive motion devices, Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) devices, crutches, hospital beds, home infusion services, infusion pumps and supplies, lancet devices and lancets, nebulizers and nebulizer medications, oxygen equipment and accessories, patient lifts, pressure-reducing support surfaces, suction pumps, traction equipment, walkers, wheelchairs and scooters.

Medicare.gov notes that patients should make sure their doctors and durable medical equipment suppliers are enrolled in Medicare in order for Medicare to pay claims submitted by them. The customer pays 20 percent of the Medicare-approved amount, and the Part B deductible applies. Depending on the type of equipment, patients may be able to rent or buy the equipment.

Avoid Scams

Consumers should beware of medical equipment scams, according to AARP. Seniors might receive unsolicited phone calls or other communications offering a free or low-cost medical device as a Medicare “benefit.”

For instance, someone claiming to be from Medicare might call to say the senior is eligible for a free knee or back brace and ask the senior to provide their Medicare or Social Security number to process the benefit. The senior might never receive the brace, and the thief has obtained information to steal their identity. Medicare representatives almost never make unsolicited calls to consumers and don’t ask for personal information by phone, according to AARP.

Seniors should carefully review their quarterly Medicare Summary Notice (MSN) or an explanation of benefits (EOB) from their health plan to determine if medical equipment is listed they did not order or receive. They should call Medicare or their insurance company if there are claims for supplies or service they don’t recognize.

AARP reports that if seniors accept offers of medical equipment, they could be responsible for up to 20 percent of the Medicare-approved cost of the item. Read this AARP article for more information: https://www.aarp.org/money/scams-fraud/info-2019/medical-equipment.html.

Older Adult Home Modification Program

A study published in JAMA Internal Medicine found that about 12 million people over 65 who are living in their own homes could use equipment to help them safely bathe or use the restroom, two activities that many disabled older people struggle with. However, about five million of these seniors don’t have those items, even though they cost less than $50.

Falls are a leading cause of hospitalization and disability for older adults. Bathrooms, which have slippery surfaces, are particularly dangerous.

Many older adults don’t get the devices they need because of cost. While Medicare covers durable medical equipment such as hospital beds, wheelchairs and walkers, it doesn’t cover hand rails or grab bars that can be used around the house, according to The New York Times.

A new federal program from the Department of Housing and Urban Development will provide nonprofit organizations, state and local governments and public housing authorities with grant funding for a home modification program for low-income homeowners who are 62 and older. Here’s some information:

https://www.hud.gov/program_offices/spm/gmomgmt/grantsinfo/fundingopps/oahmp.

The purpose of the Older Adult Home Modification Program is to make home modifications for safety and function and limited repairs to meet the needs of low-income elderly homeowners. These low-cost, high-impact home modifications reduce the risk of falls, increase accessibility and improve general safety and functional abilities in the home. The adjustments allow seniors to remain in their homes and age in place rather than having to move to a nursing home or other assisted care facility.

Seniors and their families should check with organizations in their community that assist seniors for possible opportunities with the Older Adult Home Modification Program.

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