Oxygen Patient Questions: Will Medicare Pay for Home Oxygen Concentrators?

Have you just found out that you need to use oxygen therapy? Starting the process can be daunting because of all the different options available for patients. Today, the main options for patients on oxygen therapy include tanks and concentrators. Tanks and concentrators both have their advantages and disadvantages. While tanks are much cheaper, many people opt for oxygen concentrators instead because they are much more convenient, require less work and can save money in the long run by cutting out the need for oxygen refills.

Since the initial cost of a concentrator can seem expensive, many patients ask, "Will Medicare cover the cost of home oxygen concentrators?" The remainder of this article will help clarify and answer this question.

The short response to the question is, yes; Medicare will help cover the cost of an oxygen concentrator. However, for patients to qualify for Medicare coverage, there are certain requirements must be met.

Medicare will help cover the cost of most equipment that is considered durable medical equipment, or DME for short. Below is an excerpt from the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General Medicare Home Oxygen Equipment: Cost and Servicing Manual:

“Section 1834(a)(5) of the Social Security Act authorizes Medicare payment for home oxygen equipment under its durable medical equipment (DME) benefit. DME is defined as medical materials that can withstand repeated use, is used primarily to serve a medical purpose, and is appropriate for use in a beneficiary’s home.”

Since an oxygen concentrator is considered a DME, does that mean Medicare will cover it?

Not exactly:

Coverage on the concentrator will still depend on if the patient's doctor provides the proper documentation in their medical record. Correct documentation includes the physician cataloging that the oxygen concentrator is a medical necessity and writing the patient a prescription stating that he/she requires medical grade oxygen.

If and when Medicare decides to cover the cost of a concentrator, they will enter a contract with a Medicare-approved provider. This agreement states that this provider will supply the patient a concentrator on an extended rental basis. Meanwhile, Medicare will cover the entirety or a portion of the cost of the rental. The contracts between the patient, the Medicare-approved provider, and Medicare will last for 36 months. After the initial three years, renewal may be necessary. To renew the contract, updated documentation, and information from the patient's doctor will be required.

Even when a patient has all of their documents in order and meets all the requirements, the provision of an oxygen solution can take months. Furthermore, many people find that the Medicare-approved provider does not accommodate patients very well. Often ignoring, and avoiding patients who have asked for assistance, or sending them through an extensive bureaucratic system for even the most simple of requests.

If the patient decides that pursuing Medicare coverage is too time-consuming, they can always purchase their oxygen equipment outright. For cash purchases, all that is required is a payment method as well as a prescription from a physician stating that medical grade oxygen is required. Some companies offer financing plans that enable patients to pay for the machine over the course of 3-6 months interest-free to make concentrators more affordable for the patient.

In summary, Medicare will cover a home oxygen concentrator through Medicare's DME benefit. A patient needs the documentation of medical necessity from a doctor, as well as a Medicare approved provider that is able to supply a concentrator on a long term rental basis. The process can be very time-consuming, taking months before the patient sees their oxygen solution.

7 thoughts on “Oxygen Patient Questions: Will Medicare Pay for Home Oxygen Concentrators?”

  • Thomas Perezluha
    Thomas Perezluha December 7, 2017 at 5:08 am

    I have oxygen for food do I rent through Medicare or the money the pay for it later thank you

    • Danielle Jason

      Thank you for your comment, Thomas. Do you medically require a prescription for oxygen or are you actually looking to oxygenate your food? We will need a few more details in order to best assist you. I have passed along your information to an Oxygen Specialist who will reach out shortly regarding your request.

      For more immediate assistance you're more than welcome to contact us directly at 877-774-9271 or at [email protected]

  • Tracie

    My step dad is on oxygen 24/7. Because of the tanks he has limited mobility. He does not leave the house because it is too strenuos to pull the oxygen tank and walk. His lungs are so bad from COPD that he could not have bypass surgery because he would not survive. He use to be so active but after the death of my mom his health went down hill.I am his medical power of attorney. Thank you for your time.

    • Danielle Jason

      Thank you for sharing, Tracie. Have you explored the possible solution of a lighter-weight oxygen concentrator?

  • Francis coffey

    Wondering if Medicare pay for oxygen concentratr u pack around supplies oxygen more than tanks

  • G

    What about the lightweight concentrators, portable?

    • Margaret Goodman
      Margaret Goodman March 30, 2018 at 8:54 am

      Thank you for your inquiry. I have passed along your information to a specialist who will reach out regarding your request. For more immediate assistance feel free to give our specialists a call at 888-360-9628 or if you prefer email [email protected]


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