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Home medical equipment (HME) is a category of products used for patients whose care is being managed at home or at another location by a nonprofessional caregiver or family member. It is often referred to as "durable" medical equipment (DME).
Beneficiaries with Original Medicare who live in certain areas of the country must abide by the rules of Medicare's bidding program for HME / DME in order to receive or replace home medical equipment. Download a guide at the link below.
Elevating toilet seat
Respiratory assist device/home oxygen
For most home medical equipment to be reimbursed by insurance, a patient must have a doctor's prescription for the equipment. Some equipment, such as oxygen, is FDA regulated and must be prescribed by a physician before purchase whether reimbursed by insurance, Medicare, or another payer.
The physician may recommend a supplier for the home medical equipment, or the patient will have to research this on their own. HME / DME providers are located throughout the country.
Strict rules and laws govern HME / DME providers that participate in the Medicare and Medicaid programs. In addition to rules outlined the National Supplier Clearinghouse, a division of CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Serives), all HME / DME providers must obtain and maintain accreditation by one of many approved accrediting bodies.
HME / DME providers are obligated to perform certain functions when supplying home medical equipment. These include:
Proper delivery and setup of the equipment
Ensuring the home environment is suitable and safe for proper usage of the equipment
Training the patient, family and caregivers on the proper usage and maintenance of the equipment
Informing the patient and/or caregiver of their rights and responsibilities
Providing periodic maintenance services (e.g., refilling oxygen, servicing equipment, etc.)
All HME / DME providers are required to comply with Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) to protect patients' confidentiality and records.
Home medical equipment is typically covered by a patient's healthcare insurance, including Medicare (Part B) and various plans offered through the Health Insurance Marketplace.
If you or someone you know is having trouble getting the medical equipment you need because of the Medicare competitive bidding program, call 1-800-404-8702 for assistance.
Many individuals who are using home medical equipment may also require home based caregiving. For additional details see our overview on home based care or visit the National Association for Homecare & Hospice.
Confused by the proliferation of heathcare terms? See our glossary of homecare-related definitions and acronyms.