Does Medicare Cover Hospital Beds?

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  • Does Medicare cover hospital beds? Many Medicare beneficiaries need a special bed for use in their own home. Find out how your Medicare benefits can help pay for hospital beds.

Medicare is generally able to help with the cost of durable medical equipment, including hospital beds beneficiaries can use at home. Both Original Medicare and Medicare Advantage pay for up to 80% of the cost for a hospital bed that your doctor recommends you keep in your home.

Why You Might Need a Hospital Bed at Home

Hospital beds are considered durable medical equipment by Medicare, which covers much of the cost of such equipment under the Part B outpatient component. Beds of this type vary somewhat in their design, but they are engineered to support people with medical conditions who may not be able to rest comfortably or safely in a regular bed.

Typical hospital beds have hinges that allow for manual or automatic adjustment of the head and feet, as well as tilting of the head up or down, depending on the needs of the person using it. Hospital beds often have rails to limit the risk of falling or rolling out of bed, and impermeable mattresses that are relatively easy to keep clean. Some beds have call buttons installed in them to summon help if it’s needed. Most hospital beds also have locking wheels or casters that make them easy to move as needed.

People use hospital beds for a variety of reasons. Many people with disabilities or age-related conditions simply find that adjustable hospital beds are more comfortable for them. Some people elevate the head of their hospital bed to help them breathe more easily at night. Some people need rails to keep from falling out of bed at night. People who are unable to get out of bed often choose a hospital-style bed for daily use, which many people find to be more comfortable than a couch, chair or regular bed they have in the home.

What Type of Hospital Bed Does Medicare Pay For?

Your Medicare benefits are likely to include up to 80% of the cost of a hospital bed, but Medicare does not pay for every make or model of bed you can buy. Medicare classifies an item as durable medical equipment if:

  • It can be used more than once, unlike disposable equipment such as bandages
  • It is likely to last for at least 3 years, as opposed to short-term equipment such as a splint
  • It is to be used in your home, rather than in a clinical setting such as a hospital or medical office
  • It is medically necessary, which does not include normal beds or couches

If the bed you need meets all four criteria, it is likely to be included as durable equipment in your Part B coverage. Some adjustable beds, such as the commercially available comfort beds and other motorized systems, are not strictly considered medical appliances, and so they are not likely to be covered.

Adjustable wheelchairs, reclining shower chairs and other devices that can be converted to lie flat are not considered beds, though your Medicare plan could also assist with paying for them. Sheets, pillows, bedspreads and other bedroom goods are not typically included in your Part B benefits. Note that Medicare also does not generally pay for all-electric beds, as fully motorized units do not necessarily have a medical justification above the cost of a manual hospital bed.

How Can You Get Approved for a Hospital Bed?

In order to get approved for a hospital bed, you need a doctor to prescribe one for you. Speak with your primary care physician about getting a hospital bed. If the doctor agrees that you have a medical need for the device, Medicare is likely to approve the expense.

Your doctor’s office is unlikely to have a bed you can take home, but they may have a referral for you to a medical supplier who can deliver the bed once payment is approved. Many hospital bed retailers offer free or reduced cost delivery services for seniors on Medicare. Because hospital beds are often somewhat more complex than a typical bed, many suppliers offer to assemble the bed for you at the time of delivery.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Hospital Bed Through Medicare?

The length of time it takes to get your hospital bed through Medicare depends on several factors, including the area of the country where you live and how far you are from a supply warehouse. Under the best of circumstances, you might be able to get approval and delivery of a new hospital bed on the same day your doctor prescribes it. More often, you could be waiting a few days or up to a week. Under rare circumstances, some people have had to wait a couple of weeks for a hospital bed to be approved and delivered to them. If your claim is held up by Medicare, you could have a longer delay before the bed is delivered.