Depending on the type of durable medical equipment (DME) you need, Medicare may require that you either rent or buy it.

  • Most equipment is initially rented, including many manual and power wheelchairs.
    • Original Medicare covers 80% of the cost of a monthly rental fee for 13 months. You pay a 20% coinsurance.
    • After 13 months, ownership is typically given to you automatically.
  • In certain situations, you may have to buy your DME. For example, Medicare may require that you purchase an item that is made to fit you.
    • Original Medicare covers 80% of the Medicare-approved amount of the cost of the equipment. You pay a 20% coinsurance.
  • Medicare allows you a choice as to rent or buy certain items, such as some power wheelchairs, items costing less than $150, and parenteral/enteral infusion pumps.

Note: There are different rules for oxygen equipment. If you have Original Medicare, you will typically pay the least if you order your DME from a Medicare-approved supplier who takes assignment.

If you have a Medicare Advantage Plan, make sure to follow your plan’s coverage rules.

To find out if Medicare covers the equipment or supplies you need, or to find DME suppliers in your area, call 1-800-MEDICARE or visit www.medicare.gov. You can also learn about Medicare coverage of DME by contacting your State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP).

Return to: Medicare In-depth

This content was created and copyrighted by the Medicare Rights Center ©2020. Medicare Rights Center is a national, nonprofit consumer service organization that works to ensure access to affordable health care for older adults and people with disabilities. These materials are presented here with support from YourMedicare.com and may not be distributed, modified or edited without Medicare Rights’ consent.

YourMedicare.com takes pride in providing you as much information as possible concerning your Medicare options, but only a health insurance broker licensed to sell Medicare can help you compare your plan options from various insurance companies. When you’re ready, we recommend you discuss your needs with a YourMedicare.com Licensed Sales Agent.