Durable medical equipment, according to American Association of Retired People, AARP,

  • is equipment primarily serving a medical purpose,
  • is able to withstand repeated use, and
  • is appropriate for use in the home.

Some of the most common equipment on the list are mobility items such as walkers, wheelchairs and lift chairs; also included are apparatus such as breathing assistance appliances like home oxygen machines, CPAPs, “constant positive air pressure” and nebulizers; and testing devices including diabetes glucose monitors, to name a few.
Items generally not included are complicated equipment that needs a caregiver for operation, scooters or wheel chairs that operate only outside the home, and consumables such as medical equipment used one time and discarded.
For senior citizens who have a medical necessity for these items Medicare part B will cover some or all of the items. What does it mean to medically necessary? According to Medicare, it is considered necessary when a “treating practitioner (such as a nurse practitioner, physician assistant, or clinical nurse specialist) prescribes it” for care at home.
If you are a family member helping provide in home elderly care, possibly assisting with purchasing or renting DME or more importantly, helping with bills and insurance needs, it is important to know if your loved one’s pharmacy is accredited by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy. According to NABP’s FAQ’s only pharmacies accredited by NABP are able to bill Medicare as insurance. This licensing also assures quality standards are met and that vendors stay informed of medical changes and trends as they must renew their license every three years.

The acronym to look for is NABP DMEPOS, a combination of NABP which is shown above and Durable Medical Equipment, Prosthetics, Orthotics, and Supplies. This group holds the oversight for a mandatory accreditation program for pharmacies to bill Medicare for DME for home healthcare. Be sure to verify your pharmacy holds the license before purchasing.

Understanding what DME is and knowing your pharmacy is a licensed facility will give both you and your loved ones peace of mind. When you’re not feeling well, that can mean more energy for staying healthy.

View the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy NABP FAQ.

View the Medicare Coverage of Durable Medical Equipment and Other Devices package here.