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How Do I Buy a Hospital Bed?

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  • Written By: Susan Abe
  • Edited By: Jessica Seminara
  • Last Modified Date: 02 September 2016
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A hospital bed is a piece of durable medical equipment (DME) used for patient rest and recovery in hospitals, nursing homes, hospices and even private homes. This equipment is designed to promote patient safety with lockable bed rails, and to promote patient comfort with adjustments available to raise or lower the head of the bed, the knees and the foot area. Hospital beds can be manually adjustable — requiring a caretaker to adjust the bed for a bed-bound patient — or electrically controlled by either party. In the US, it is a relatively simple procedure to buy a hospital bed, new or used, from a variety of sources, including medical equipment stores or even the classified advertisements in the local newspaper. The cost of a hospital bed may be partially or completely covered by health insurance, depending upon who will use it and the reason it is needed.

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The first step to take to buy a hospital bed is ascertaining whether a health insurance company will pay some or all of its cost. As long as the patient's attending physician will attest to its medical necessity, Medicare, Medicaid and most health insurance companies will help to buy a hospital bed, although model options may be limited depending on the plan's benefits. The extent of an insurance company's contribution can be determined either by contacting the medical insurance company by telephone or reviewing the company's benefits manual. Optionally, customer service representatives at most DME retailers are extremely knowledgeable regarding different insurance plans and can also advise potential customers.

When a customer chooses to buy a hospital bed through a DME retailer, the transaction can be initiated with a telephone call to the business. The customer service representative will ask for the patient's name, address, telephone number, insurance coverage information and his physician's name. In most instances, an appointment to deliver and set up the hospital bed can be established during this same telephone conversation. Special features not explicitly covered under a patient's insurance benefits are billed to the patient weeks later, after the insurance company has been formally billed and an explanation of benefits (EOB) issued.

It is also possible to buy a hospital bed through private sources. Offers of used hospital beds are occasionally found in local newspaper classified ads. DME retailers also offer private sales of both new and used models. Depending upon the anticipated length of use and insurance benefits, a hospital bed may be rented for a short time as opposed to an actual purchase.

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anon320589
Post 7

I agree with honeybees. The fact is, when it comes to having a hospital bed at your own house, it is cheaper to rent one than buying one. It is also better to get a refurbished hospital bed than a used one. The price for a refurbished bed most times is half of the price of a new one.

sunnySkys
Post 6

I think the best way to purchase a hospital bed is definitely through a dealer. If you buy from a private seller, you won't usually have the option to return it if the best is faulty and doesn't work out.

Plus, I think having someone come out and help set up the best is pretty invaluable. They usually also show you how to use it, which I think is great too. I doubt most private sellers will bring the hospital bed to your home and get it all set up for you!

Also, I think it's probably easier to use your insurance to purchase a bed through a dealer rather than a private seller.

SZapper
Post 5

@golf07 - I think one of the most important things to consider when buying a hospital bed is how much help the patient is going to have. Manual beds are less expensive than electric beds. But if you get a manual bed, someone is going to need to be there to help change the beds positions.

If the patient isn't going to have a full time caretaker, or just wants more autonomy, I think an electric bed is the better choice. Provided you can afford it or your insurance company is going to cover the cost.

strawCake
Post 4

@honeybees - Renting is a great option if you need a hospital bed only temporarily. My grandmother rented one while she was recovering from breaking her back in a bad car accident. I believe Medicare covered most of the cost, so it ended up working out really well.

If you must buy one though, I would definitely consult with your insurance company first, as the article suggested. Every insurance company is different. However, most insurance companies have a process to follow to get DME covered. If you don't follow their process, or get the wrong kind of bed, you'll be out of luck!

myharley
Post 3

Depending on the reasons a person needs a hospital bed, sometimes the lockable side rails can be just as important as the ability to change positions.

My sister was in a very serious car accident and went through months of recovery and therapy. During the early part of this recovery process, having the side rails that locked in place were very important.

My parents purchased a hospital bed from a DME which was covered under their insurance plan. I have never seen a hospital bed advertised in the classified ads, but I have never been looking for one either.

I guess once you are done using a hospital bed, that would be one way to get some money back out of it. It would probably be a good solution for someone who didn't have insurance to cover the cost of something like that.

golf07
Post 2

Hospital beds are sure much better and easier to use than they were years ago. I may be dating myself here, but I remember when most hospital beds were only changed manually.

One of the biggest benefits of a hospital bed is all the different positions you can place the bed in. If you have to do this by hand every time you want to change positions, it can be a lot of work.

My dad needed a hospital bed after having a stroke and looking at a long road of recovery. I am so thankful most of the beds we looked at were electronically controlled.

My dad wants the position of the hospital bed changed several

times a day. It is so much easier for him to be able to do it with a touch of a button. It is also much easier on my mom who is his primary caretaker.

She isn't a very big person, and I don't think she would be able to manually change all those positions for him.

honeybees
Post 1

When my mother-in-law was recovering at home, she rented a hospital bed. Not thinking she would need it for very long, she thought it would be better to rent one from a medical supply store rather than buying one.

Thankfully, she didn't need it very long, but she discovered it was very comfortable and enjoyed how easy it was to change the position of the bed.

Since she lived alone, and figured she might need a hospital bed again in the future, she ended up buying a used bed from the medical supply store where she rented the bed in the first place.

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