When you need oxygen therapy, it can be incredibly difficult to get out of your home, attend family events, do your shopping and visit with friends. It isn’t easy or convenient to drag cumbersome oxygen tanks along with you wherever you go. Plus, you have to constantly watch your time -- whether you’re at the movies or out to dinner – due to worry that your remaining oxygen supply will run out. Long-distance travel can be particularly difficult when you need oxygen therapy -- which can limit your enjoyment of life even further.
A portable oxygen concentrator (POC) could be the solution. Often lighter and more compact than oxygen tanks, a POC can improve your quality of life, help you remain active and preserve your sense of freedom and independence. Unlike those clunky oxygen tanks, POCs are discrete enough to carry in a shoulder back and you never have to worry about running out of oxygen when you need it.
Unfortunately, POCs are sometimes considered a luxury item and it can be difficult to obtain one via your insurance company or equipment provider. Most consider standard oxygen tanks to be sufficient for the majority of people -- but that doesn’t have to stop you from obtaining the POC you need.
If you require oxygen therapy, you may have several different payment options for a POC, so let’s talk about the solutions available to you.
If You Have Private Insurance
There are many different insurance programs on the market, and each has individual criteria and limitations when it comes to home medical equipment like oxygen.
It’s wisest to check with your insurance company to find out what criteria they have for providing a portable oxygen concentrator and where to start. Some insurance companies or providers will insist that patients use portable oxygen tanks instead of a concentrator, due to the cost, while others are more flexible.
Contact your insurance company directly and ask the following questions:
- Are there any circumstances in which a POC is covered by your plan?
- What is required to obtain a POC versus oxygen tanks?
- What appeals process do you have if you’re denied a POC?
- What happens if the home medical equipment (HME) supplier used by your insurance company is unable to provide the POC your doctor ordered?
Typically, the process of obtaining a POC starts with a visit to your doctor and an order for new lab testing to document your need for supplemental oxygen. Your doctor must provide you with a prescription that:
- Calls for a portable oxygen concentrator
- States the route of oxygen administration (by nasal cannula)
- Specifies your duration of treatment
- Specifies the liter flow you should be using
Oxyensure offers a downloadable form that you can share with your physician to make certain that all of the information you need to obtain a POC is contained on your prescription. Our goal is to make the process of obtaining your POC as simple as possible.
Keep in mind the fact that many HMEs have internal criteria (in addition to your doctor’s approval and your insurance company’s consent) that have to be met before you qualify for a POC instead of oxygen tanks. Others may want additional information about why a POC is necessary, so take the time to list all of the ways that a POC can help you maintain -- or even improve -- your quality of life.
If You Have Medicare or Medicaid
Medicare will sometimes pay for the rental of a POC if you meet the coverage criteria and have a local provider who participates in Medicare's Competitive bidding program who is willing to provide you with a POC.
Medicare Advantage Plans are similar to private insurance in that each has specific criteria for coverage when it comes to durable medical equipment like oxygen concentrators. The process of obtaining coverage for your POC is very much the same as with other insurance companies.
Medicaid programs vary greatly from state to state, as does what types of durable medical equipment they will cover. Your local Department of Social Services can help you apply for Medicaid and better understand your options.
If You Want to Purchase Directly
It isn’t unusual for patients or their caregivers to purchase their portable oxygen concentrators directly. Doing so can cut through a significant amount of red tape or frustrating delays and get your POC to you quickly -- hassle-free. Many patients feel the trade-off is well worth the out-of-pocket expenses.
Oxyensure is one of the companies offering direct-to-consumer sales and rent-to-own options. With nothing more complicated than your doctor’s prescription, you have the option of buying a POC outright or choosing an affordable, interest-free rental plan that stretches your payments out over 12 or 24 months.*
Oxyensure is both the manufacturer and distributor of its equipment, so there’s no middleman and no inflated prices. During your rental period, you also get free service, free shipping and a free loaner unit if you ever need repairs. Once the rental period is complete, your POC is paid off and belongs to you!
Many other direct-to-consumer POC providers offer similar programs, although most charge interest on their payment plans. Plus, most other providers require customers to pass a credit check to use a financing partner -- which Oxyensure does not.
Oxyensure also provides a unique array of accessory items for your POC, including all-in-one backpacks for your unit, extra batteries for extended use, chargers designed to work in standard wall outlets and in cars, and soft, and silicone nasal cannulas that won’t damage fragile skin with regular use.
If you have COPD, congestive heart failure or another condition that requires oxygen therapy and dealing with your portable tanks has become a struggle, we recommend you find out how a portable oxygen concentrator can improve your life.
*Available in most states.