Many people have been diagnosed with respiratory diseases that require specialized treatment. These treatments most often come in the form of oxygen therapy.
Why are Oxygen Concentrators Needed?
There are numerous studies that have shown that patients who have oxygen therapy live longer and have more active lives. They can exercise more easily because more oxygen is getting to their muscles. The oxygen helps reverse the long term effects of oxygen deficiency on the heart. It also helps reduce sleep disruption and improves memory and concentration.
Home Oxygen Concentrators
Oxygen therapy comes from two devices. There are home oxygen concentrators that enable patients to receive their treatment from the comfort of their homes. These oxygen machines allow them mobility from room to room, and with sufficient power outlets and tubes, patients can move all about their home as well as outdoors. Most patients use their home oxygen concentrator for night time oxygen delivery.
Portable Oxygen Concentrators
For other oxygen therapy patients, they want to maintain a more active lifestyle, and this means getting out and about, traveling to see family and friends. Some patients want to go out shopping, or undertake other activities like golf, gardening, or fishing. And whenever they want to spend time away from home, a portable oxygen concentrator (POC) is a handy solution that gives them just that freedom.
For those who want to travel by plane, using liquid oxygen or oxygen tanks can be cumbersome and difficult to maneuver. They can also be a safety hazard.
Portable oxygen machines have been around for a long time. However, the earlier models were heavy, unreliable, and not permitted on airplanes. Today’s oxygen therapy patients can now travel by plane with a Federal Aviation Administration-approved (FAA) approved portable oxygen concentrator.
Currently, there are POC models available that now produce anywhere between one and 3 liters per minute (LPM) of oxygen while on continuous flow and some machines can go as high as a setting of 9 on pulse flow. These portable oxygen concentrators weigh between 1.75 and 19.9 pounds.
Today’s POCs also provide intelligent technology to help patients know if there are any problems with their units. There are audible and visual alarms that measure low oxygen purity, overheating, low battery life, and any other issues.
Will Medicare cover the cost of my POC?
It seems like there should be a simple YES or NO answer to this question but unfortunately there is not. The best way to explain the situation is to start with a few facts, and then a few FAQs.
- Medicare coverage for Oxygen Therapy Equipment is provided via a long-term (5 year) monthly rental contract through a Medicare provider. Medicare pays providers a monthly FEE for providing patients with oxygen.
- A Medicare provider is required to provide a patient with a solution for within the home (home or stationary concentrator) if the patient only needs oxygen at night or a home concentrator and a portable solution (i.e. tanks or POC) if the patient needs oxygen 24 hours a day.
- A Medicare provider is NOT required to provide a patient any particular equipment and specifically, does not need to provide a patient with a portable oxygen concentrator. The most common solution is a stationary “home” concentrator and refillable oxygen tanks.
- Medicare does not reimburse for any out-of-pocket expenses and Medicare will NEVER pay for the PURCHASE or short-term rental of an oxygen concentrator.
- Many supplemental insurance companies WILL cover some or all of the PURCHASE or RENTAL of a portable oxygen concentrator.
Based on these facts, it is our recommended action to always start by talking to your current Medicare or Insurance provider and see if they will provide you with the equipment you are looking for.
Other Uses for POCs
POCs come with a variety of other uses. They can:
- improve blood circulation
- increase concentration
- increase alertness and memory
- improve energy and stamina
- improve mood and sleep
- relieve temporary altitude discomfort