Term - Durable Medical Equipment, or DME

Description - DME is a term used by Medicare to describe certain medical equipment that is certified for use in the home. Examples of this are wheelchairs, walkers, iron lungs, oxygen tents/tanks, and powered wheelchairs. Suppliers can enroll in the government program to have their equipement qualify for the DME program. If a product qualifies, and the patient needs it, often Medicare will cover the complete cost of the item.

There is a complicated system in place to identify different equipment needs. There are 5 character HCPCS, procedure codes, categories, subcategories, codes for places of service (ex. home, office, hospital), codes for pricing (rent vs. buy), provider codes, and many more just for this one system.

Applications - This term and specifications has wide-ranging applications. Basically, any medical item you use in your home is DME. This even includes items such as artificial limbs, air purifiers, and insulin devices. By making a universal system identifying all this equipment, insurance companies can simplify the process of covering all of these different items. All that is needed to get equipment is usually a doctor's prescription, and then any provider can supply a patient with the needed items. The provider will then bill the patient, insurance company, or a combination of both. Most people have seen the Hoverround commercials, where they advertise that you can get one for little-to-no cost, and DME is the standard by which that is achieved.

Related Terminology -
Home Medical Equipment
DMEPOS (Durable Medical Equipment, Prosthetics, Orthotics and Supplies)

Web Resources -
Wisconsin DME Searchable Database

Citiations/References -
Official DME Center
Medical Supply Group


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