How to Get Medical or Adaptive Equipment


Speak with your physician first, to determine if he (or she) will order a brief evaluation from a home health agency for physical therapy or occupational therapy for the purpose of medical equipment.


Do not get discouraged if the doctor will not order this service. Ask him or her if they will go ahead and order the equipment you feel you need. Usually doctors go along with what the patient wants in this regard, as this helps keep the patient safe.


Call some medical equipment companies in your area, because if the doctor will not order it or doesn't feel you (or the patient) needs it, then insurance will not cover the cost of it, and you will have to pay for it yourself.
You can get a lot of information this way in terms of cost and whether they carry used equipment, or also whether or not they rent it.


Look in the phone book under "medical equipment" in the Yellow Pages. Go visit their showroom. You need to find the right sized items, and ones in the color you want. You want to try it out for size, comfort and usability. Most medical equipment companies have a showroom. Find one of the biggest in your area, and make sure that they do have items on display that you can try out. Most places such as this deliver, as well. If the item you are looking at is too large to carry in the car, such as a power wheelchair or a lift chair, they will deliver it. Make sure that if you get it home and two days later you decide it doesn't work for you, that you can exchange it or return it. If they say "No," then go somewhere else that will. I cannot emphasize this enough. Do not let them tell you that they will already have billed your insurance, and that it will be too late because then it will be used equipment and they cannot sell it again as new. They can hold the billing for a couple of days or so to make sure you like the item and that it works for you.


Familiarize yourself with local sources for used equipment. If you do not have insurance, and you cannot afford new equipment, there are several things you can do. You can call your local Hospice Thrift Store for used equipment at very good prices. Many items are barely used. Other thrift stores also may carry medical equipment. You can find these items in the classifieds, as well. If you cannot afford to purchase even used items, call your local social service agency for elder services if you are over 60, or another local agency that deals with any kind of human services, as they can connect you to the right agency. Tell them what you need, tell them that you cannot afford the equipment, and they will help you. You can find most agency numbers in the phone book under your county or city. If your physician has ordered home health for you but your insurance will not cover the cost of the equipment, the social worker can assist you in getting what you need.


Do not be shy about asking for this assistance. It is very risky to do without the medical equipment you need, and yet people will go for years walking around their homes holding onto the walls or furniture to keep from falling. Or they have fallen many times and still will not ask for professional help. There is a lot of benefit to getting an order for home health, including information, insurance, assistance with medical costs, transportation, medical care and treatment and family support.
It also takes a lot of the worry off of the family and friends who are concerned.

You may be caring for someone who needs some additional assistance in bathing, or perhaps you are finding it more difficult to get into and out of the shower yourself, without risk of slipping or falling. Maybe you cannot walk safely with a cane anymore and you think you could benefit from having a walker. However, you don't know what kind of equipment to get, where to get it, or how to choose the best design for your needs.

Let me recommend to you that it might benefit you if you were to ask your physician if he or she would order a short home health evaluation for you for physical therapy and/or occupational therapy. This has many benefits, especially if you are under Medicare or other insurance. The doctor will ask you why, and you will tell him (her) that you (or the patient) is having difficulty performing certain daily tasks, and that the equipment he or she is using seems inadequate at this time. Under many insurances, a nurse will visit first and then the other therapies will appear as ordered by the doctor. This may include a social worker, an aide, a speech therapist, physical therapist or occupational therapist, but usually not all of them. The therapists can measure the patient, and perform assessments to determine what the patient needs for safety and convenience. Once this information is determined, the doctor can order the equipment. This might be paid for under your insurance. If it is not, you may have to pay for it out of pocket. If you are low income, the social worker may be able to locate a free source for what you need. You may have to ask for the doctor to order the social worker in to talk with you. Your doctor (or the agency that comes in) can assist you in obtaining what you need.

See the steps below for an overall approach to obtaining medical equipment.