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.
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.