ASK THE EXPERTS
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1. Question: What is the difference between Medicare A, B and D?
Answer: Medicare Part A is primarily for hospital, home health nursing and skilled nursing services. Medicare Part B will cover physician services and durable medical equipment and supplies. Medicare Part D is the newest part of Medicare. This part is for prescription drugs.
2. Question: Medicare often refers to DME. What does DME mean?
Answer: DME stands for Durable Medical Equipment. This is special medical equipment used to aid patient’s movement and/or give specific therapy to a patient. It is equipment that is meant to withstand repeated use. There are many examples of DME, including wheelchairs, walkers, hospital beds and canes.
3. Question: I received a bill for a deductible. What are deductibles?
Answer: A deductible is a specific amount of an out-of-pocket expense paid by the patient at the first of the insurance year. The amount varies by insurance company and by the particular insurance policy.
4. Question: I received a bill for my equipment. I thought Medicare paid 100%. Don’t they pay 100%?
Answer: There is some confusion on this. For Part B, Medicare has a yearly deductible and co-pay. Many people do not realize that Part B Medicare has a yearly deductible. At this time, it is $155.00 per calendar year and it is deducted from the amount that Medicare allows for payment for a particular item. Also, Medicare does not pay 100% of the charges after the deductible; they pay 80%. It is illegal to routinely waive the 20% balance. However, if you have a supplemental insurance, the supplement usually picks up the 20% balance.
5. Question: I have a prescription for a wheelchair. Will Medicare buy it for me?
Answer: Many people think that Medicare buys equipment for them. However, in many cases, they rent to purchase. Medicare calls this “capped rental equipment.” Capped rental equipment costs more than $150.00 and is not routinely purchased. It is not service-intensive and not customized for a particular patient.
6. Question: If Medicare rents the equipment to the purchase price, how long is capped rental equipment rented?
Answer: For many DME items such as nebulizers, wheelchairs, hospital beds, and CPAP machines, rental payment can be made for up to 13 months. After 13 months, the patient will own the equipment. Oxygen is different. Oxygen equipment remains a continuous rental and never converts to a purchase.
7. Question: My provider talks about accepting assignment. What does “assignment” mean?
Answer: “Assignment” is an agreement by a medical provider to accept the insurance’s allowed charges as payment in full and, therefore, only bill the patient for the amount of any unmet deductible and coinsurance. The insurance actually sets the price of the service and the medical provider agrees to their price. When a provider accepts assignment, the insurance company sends payment to the medical provider instead of the patient.
8. Question: Then, what does “non-assignment” mean?
Answer: If a provider does not accept assignment on a particular claim, then the provider files the claim on “non-assignment.” This means that the supplier does not agree to accept the insurance’s allowed charges. The supplier can bill the beneficiary for all charges up front. When the insurance company pays the claim, the insurance company will send payment to the patient.
9. Question: If I have a prescription, does that mean Medicare will cover my equipment?
Answer: A prescription is the first step. However, just because you have a prescription doesn’t mean Medicare will cover the product. Medicare requires that the equipment is “medically necessary,” which means that the level of services and supplies is adequate for the diagnosis and treatment of an illness or injury. Medicare may require a particular diagnosis for coverage. They may require certain test results or a specific treatment plan to verify the medical necessity. The rules can be complicated. At Home Health Products, our billing staff is always willing to research the rules and explain them. We will do our best to bill within the limits of the law.
10. Question: If a patient has a piece of medical equipment that is over five years old, will Medicare rent or purchase another piece of equipment because of the age of the equipment?
Answer: No, not simply based on the age of equipment. The useful lifetime of DME is not less than five years. If the equipment cannot be repaired after five years, Medicare will individually consider another piece of equipment as long as it is still medically necessary. You can bill Medicare for necessary parts and repairs if the equipment can be repaired.
11. Question: I have a prescription for a raised toilet seat. Does Medicare pay for that?
Answer: There is an old saying that says, “Medicare stops at the bathroom door.” Medicare doesn’t pay for raised toilet seats, shower chairs, grab bars or commode safety rails. The patient must pay for these items out of their own pocket
Question: I keep hearing that breastfeeding is the best choice for babies. What are the main benefits of breastfeeding my baby?
Answer: Science has proven that breast-fed babies have a healthier start in life. Human milk contains balanced nutrients that closely match infant requirements for brain development, growth and a healthy immune system. Human milk contains agents that protect the baby against viruses and parasites. Breast milk is easily digested and is often recommended for premature babies, since it is the best option for an immature digestive system.
Question: Are the benefits of breastfeeding short term?
Answer: The benefits of breastfeeding last longer than the first few months. Breastfed babies have lower rates of several chronic childhood diseases. The resistance to disease lasts throughout childhood. Furthermore, breastfed infants gain less weight and tend to be leaner at 1 year of age than formula-fed infants. This growth pattern lasts throughout childhood and into adulthood. Therefore, breastfeeding helps to reduce obesity.
Question: Are there any benefits to the mother?
Answer: Yes, not only is breastfeeding the best choice for the baby, but it is also good for the mother. Breastfeeding helps the mother’s body return to its normal size and shape more quickly and it reduces blood loss after delivery. There is evidence that breastfeeding reduces the chance for breast cancer and ovarian cancer later in the mother’s life. Also, breastfeeding can save a family hundreds of dollars a year, even with the cost of breast pumps.
Question: I have heard that breast milk changes to meet the needs of the baby. Is that true?
Answer: Yes, breast milk changes so that it is always perfect for the baby’s developmental stages. For example, when a baby is newborn, the mother’s milk is called colostrum. Colostrum lasts for several days after the birth of the baby. It is much thicker than the milk that is produced later in breastfeeding. Colostrum is high in protein, fat-soluble vitamins, minerals and immunoglobulins. Two to four days after birth, colostrum will be replaced by transitional milk and then by mature milk. The mother’s milk is always the perfect “formula” for her baby.
Question: What should I expect in the first few weeks of breastfeeding my baby?
Answer: At 2-4 days, your milk will “come in” and you will feel more full. This is normal. Nurse your baby frequently at this time. Mild nipple tenderness is normal in the first week. You can use nipple shields and Purelan nipple cream available at Home Health Products to help alleviate the tenderness. You can expect your baby to nurse every two to four hours in the first few weeks. It is best that you do not offer your baby bottles for the first four weeks, as the baby sucks differently on a bottle nipple and the baby may become confused.
Question: If I go back to work, will I have to stop breastfeeding?
Answer: We know that women are very busy today. It is difficult for them to juggle being a full-time mother, a full-time employee and be committed to breast-feeding at the same time. You can still breastfeed, however by pumping your milk. You may choose to rent a hospital grade breast pump. Instead, you may choose to purchase a personal breast pump. We consider the Purely Yours by Ameda to be the best retail breast pump on the market. We keep the Purely Yours in stock at all times for our breastfeeding mothers.
Question: What kind of breast pump is best?
Answer: A double-pump, electric breast pump is usually the best choice for a mother committed to breastfeeding. The electric pump mimics the sucking action of the baby. A baby sucks hard and fast during the first part of a feeding and then slows down. The Purely Yours pump cycles in the same way. This pump has a rechargeable battery so that you can take it with you while traveling. The double pump option is more efficient and takes less time than the single pump.
Question: Why should I consider a breast pump?
Answer: A breast pump can be a great help to your breastfeeding experience. The pump can be used to alleviate engorgement and clogged ducts. Pumping can help to increase your milk supply if your baby is not getting enough. Also, you can pump and store the milk for the times you must be away from your baby or if you would like for the father to feed the baby. We stock freezer bags so that you can freeze your milk for the future.
Question: I have a job that requires standing on my feet most of the day and my legs ache at the end of the day. Do you have anything that could help me?
Answer: Often, people whose jobs require prolonged standing develop swelling and aching in their legs. Prolonged standing can even cause chronic venous insufficiency when the pressure of blood in the leg is raised. There is help. Studies have shown that compression stockings or socks have proven to help with this condition?
Question: What is chronic venous insufficiency?
Answer: Leg veins depend on muscle movements to help push blood against gravity. Small valves in the veins that also help blood flow are weakened by increased pressure of the blood in the leg veins. This condition leads to the appearance of varicose veins. A recent study found that 2% of the workforce quit or changed jobs due to pain in the legs from standing during work.
Question: What are gradient compression stockings?
Answer: Gradient compression stockings are elastic support stockings which hug the legs are thought to assist in the flow of blood through the veins of the legs back to the heart. They provide gradient compression, which means that the compression is highest at the toes and gradually decreases to the level of the thigh.
Question: Are all compression stockings the same?
Answer: Compression hose come in differing compressions, depending on the severity of your condition. The lightest compression is 10-20 mm Hg. Medium compression is 20-30 mm Hg. Others are 30-40 mm Hg or higher. You can purchase compression hosiery in knee high, thigh high or pantyhose varieties and you can select them with closed toes or open toes. You can select various colors as well. We also carry compression socks for men.
Question: How do I know what size compression hose that I need?
Answer: You need to be measured. Measurements should be taken the first thing in the morning before getting out of bed, as these measurements are the most accurate. Take the following measurements: around the ankle, around the calf, around the thigh, the length from the back of the knee to the ground and the length from the bottom of the buttocks to the
Question: My doctor wrote a prescription for compression hose. Does my insurance pay for them?
Answer: Insurance coverage for compression hose varies considerably. Most insurance does not cover them, but there are exceptions. For example, Medicare will cover them only if there is an open venous stasis ulcer. Medicaid will consider coverage, but requires pre-authorization. Tricare will cover them with a physician’s order.
Question: Are there any special circumstances that would suggest a need for compression hose?
Answer: Air travel might be a time that you would consider compression hose. On long flights, some persons may develop blood clots in the legs. Walking around the plane from time to time and wearing compression hosiery during the trip help prevent this problem. Another circumstance is pregnancy. Many physicians recommend compression hosiery during pregnancy. At Home Health Products, we stock maternity compression hose for this time of your life.
Question: My wife tells me that I snore while I sleep. Is this something to worry about?
Answer: Not everyone who snores has a serious medical condition. However, snoring is one symptom of a serious condition known as obstructive sleep apnea. If you have other symptoms or problems with your sleep, you should talk to your family doctor about possible sleep apnea.
Question: Besides snoring, what other symptoms would indicate that I have sleep apnea?
Answer: Snoring is an indicator, but there are several other symptoms that indicate obstructive sleep apnea. If you answer “yes” to one these questions, you should be tested for sleep apnea:
- Do you feel very sleepy or feel like nodding off during the day?
- Does your partner tell you that you stop breathing during sleep?
- Do you feel tired when you wake up?
- Do you wake up with a headache?
- Is it hard to stay awake while driving?
- Do you have problems with your memory and with concentration?
Question: What is obstructive sleep apnea anyway?
Answer: During sleep, our muscles relax. If the muscles in your throat relax too much, the airway narrows or even closes completely. The airway is cut off and you cannot breathe. After a period of time, your brain realizes there is a lack of oxygen and alerts your body to wake up. Even if you are not aware of it, you may wake up briefly hundreds of times during the night. You never actually fall completely asleep.
Question: How common is obstructive sleep apnea?
Answer: Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common sleep disorder. It is more common in men over the age of forty, but anyone from babies to senior adults of either sex can have the problem. In fact, sleep apnea is quite common in postmenopausal women. Around 10 percent of the population is estimated to have sleep apnea.
Question: Is sleep apnea dangerous?
Answer: Sleep apnea has been linked to a number of serious life threatening conditions including high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, COPD, diabetes and congestive heart failure. Excessive tiredness due to sleep apnea is a factor in traffic accidents.
Question: How can I know for sure that I have sleep apnea?
Answer: Your family doctor will order a sleep test in a sleep testing facility commonly known as a sleep lab. Patients are “tucked in” at night and monitored by equipment that shows sleep patterns. The sleep study takes 6 to 7 hours. There is no need to travel out of town for the sleep study. Jackson County Memorial Hospital has a sleep lab here in Altus. It is staffed by respiratory therapists trained specifically in sleep disorders. Call 580-379-5243 for more information.
Question: What is the treatment for obstructive sleep apnea?
Answer: Some surgical and dental procedures can be used to treat mild obstructive sleep apnea. However, the most simple, effective and well-recognized treatment is a continuous positive airway pressure device. (CPAP).
Question: I have heard about a CPAP machine. What is it? How does it work?
Answer: A CPAP machine is a device that supplies a gentle air pressure that acts like a splint to keep the airway open during sleep. You will wear a mask that seals either your nose, mouth or both. The air flows into the throat with enough pressure so that your throat does not close and you keep breathing during the night.
Question: I have heard the term “BiPap.” How is that different from a CPAP?
Answer: The CPAP delivers a constant pressure. The BiPap or bi-level machine, has two levels of pressure. There is a greater pressure when you inhale and a lesser level when you exhale.
Question: What kind of mask do I need?
Answer: Using the right mask is essential to the success of your CPAP treatment. There are many types of masks from nasal to full-face. You need a mask that is comfortable and fits properly. It should form a good seal on your face so that air doesn’t leak out of the mask. At Home Health Products, we spend time with you trying on various types and sizes of masks to find the one that fits your face and your sleep style. We will work with you and even let you try several different brands, styles and sizes until you find the one that is most comfortable for you.
Question: How long will it take to get used to CPAP therapy?
Answer: Most people adjust to CPAP in one or two weeks. Occasionally it may take a little longer if you are very sensitive to noise or the feel of the mask on your face. Remember that using the CPAP will be worth the effort. You should notice an immediate improvement in your health. You will feel better and more alert during the day.
Question: Won’t the air from the CPAP make my nose and throat dry?
Answer: Your doctor can prescribe a humidifier that adds moisture to the air. The humidifier can be heated if needed.
Question: Why do I feel that it is hard to breathe out when using CPAP?
Answer: When first using CPAP, most people find they experience a need to push against the airflow when they breathe out. It may take a little time to get used to breathing out against the pressure. Practice sessions in the daytime while relaxing or listening to music may help overcome this feeling. However, breathing out against the flow of air will happen automatically when you are asleep.
Question: I was diagnosed with breast cancer and I am scheduled for a mastectomy. If I decide against breast reconstruction, what choices do I have for restoring my figure?
Answer: You should consider an external breast prosthesis. For many women, a breast prosthesis is preferable to additional surgeries for reconstruction. A breast prosthesis will bring balance to your body and restore your feminine figure and your self confidence. Breast prostheses are less expensive than surgeries and can be easily changed if you gain or lose weight.
Question: How soon after my mastectomy should I be fitted with a prosthesis?
Answer: Your doctor will tell you when you are ready to be fitted. Your chest wall has to heal and the soreness decrease. For most women, this will be between four and eight weeks after surgery.
Question: I have seen breast prosthesis in catalogs and online. Is this my best option?
Answer: To get the best fit, you should be fit personally by a certified mastectomy fitter. A certified fitter is trained to measure you and fit you with the size and shape of breast prosthesis that will look most like your normal breast. A fitter will provide personal education on caring for your mastectomy products. Plus, a certified fitter will file your insurance for you. At Home Health Products, we have two certified mastectomy fitters on staff, ready to assist you.
Question: You mention insurance. I thought I had to buy a prosthesis out of pocket. Does insurance pay for a prosthesis?
Answer: Although specific coverage varies according to the type of insurance policy that you have, most health plans cover breast prosthesis and mastectomy bras for women who have had mastectomies. Medicare, for example, will cover a new breast prosthesis for you every two years. Medicare will also purchase six mastectomy bras each year.
Question: Why should I get an actual prosthesis? Can’t I just use extra padding in my bra? Aren’t the prostheses heavy?
Answer: A properly-fitted breast prosthesis is important for your physical health and not just for cosmetic or psychological purposes. Most women don’t realize that their natural breast has significant weight to it. When a natural breast is removed, the body is no longer in balance. Your body will compensate with slight curving of the spine and shoulder drop. Both conditions may lead to lower and neck pain. Some women have trouble with balance and may be prone to falls because they are off balance. Because of these risks, it is important for a woman to wear a weighted breast prosthesis to equalize the weight on both sides of her body. You will get benefits from a breast prosthesis that you cannot get from extra padding.
Question: I am very self-conscious. Will people that meet me be able to tell that I am wearing a breast prosthesis?
Answer: A fitter will match the size and shape of the prosthesis to match your natural breast. The breast prosthesis is made of a silicone gel that drapes like a natural breast. The prosthesis warms up to your body temperature within a minute or two. Once you are properly fit, the prosthesis will look extremely natural. No one will be able to tell that you have had a mastectomy.
Question: How will I wear the prosthesis? Does it slip into my bra?
Answer: The breast prosthesis is worn in a mastectomy bra. The mastectomy bra has a pocket to hold the prosthesis in place.
Question: Does the mastectomy bra look “medical”? Do I have to give up my femininity?
Answer: You will be pleasantly surprised when you see a mastectomy bra for the first time. They are beautiful. We carry a large selection of styles. Many have lace. Some are underwire. We offer various colors. You may discover that mastectomy bras are more beautiful than a regular bra!
Question: I have had a partial surgery or lumpectomy. Do I still need a weighted prosthesis?
Answer: You should still consider a breast prosthesis, as the weight and shape of your natural breast has been altered by your surgery. We offer partial prostheses that fill in your breast to restore the natural shape and weight.
Question: Now that I have a silicone prosthesis, how many hours a day should I wear it? Is there a limit to the wearing time?
Answer: We recommend that you wear your prosthesis most of the day, as your body needs the balanced weight. However, a silicone prosthesis is not appropriate for swimming, either in the lake or the pool. We offer alternative swimming prostheses for that purpose. Some women prefer a non-weighted prosthesis for exercise. Others purchase non-weighted prosthesis to wear to bed.
Question: I have had a bilateral mastectomy. What do you suggest for me?
Answer: If you have had both breasts removed, you may choose either weighted or a non-weighted prostheses. The non-weighted forms are made of foam, but have a core of weight in the center to prevent them from riding up. You have more options and you may even choose your cup size.
Question: I have had a mastectomy and now I must have chemotherapy. I’m going to lose my hair. Do you have anything to help me?
Answer: Some women find that the hair loss associated with chemotherapy is more difficult emotionally than the loss of their breast. We recommend that you prepare for this by first cutting your hair short. Then, have some alternate head coverings ready. We offer wigs. We also have turbans, hats and scarves that are very stylish. Some of the hats have a fringe of hair to make them look more natural.
Question: I keep seeing those TV ads saying that the national scooter companies will give you a power chair for free if Medicare denies it. Will your company do the same thing?
Answer: If you pay close attention to the scooter company’s ad, it says that they will give you the power chair for free if they pre-qualify you and then Medicare denies the claim. Every reputable medical equipment supplier should review the medical documentation first to make sure that the patient qualifies per Medicare policy. If the patient does not qualify, then the patient must sign a waiver saying that Medicare probably won’t pay. If there is no waiver, then, by law, the medical equipment company must let the patient have the chair for free. The TV ad makes it sound like the company is giving you a special deal, but actually, they are just obeying Medicare law. Home Health Products goes by the same guidelines. Therefore, if we review and approve your medical documentation for a power chair and Medicare denies the claim, you will get to keep the power chair for free. That is the law.
Question: What is the difference between a regular cane and a quad cane?
Answer: A regular cane is also called a straight cane. Most of them have a curved handle and a straight base. They come in various colors and styles. Some people call them “fashion canes” because you can choose a fashionable model. This is a good choice for people who need just a little help with balance. A quad cane has a base on it with four prongs. This is an advantage because it is more stable and gives more support and more balance than a regular straight cane. Quad canes come in two sizes: a small base and a large base. Quad canes usually stand up on their own, so you do not have to worry about them falling over and being out of reach.
Question: My doctor told me that a cane is no longer enough for me and I should use a walker. What are my options?
Answer: The first option is a standard folding walker. The patient should pick up the walker and move it forward a short distance and then walk forward into the walker. If you have difficulty in picking up the walker in order to go forward with it, you should consider the next option, a walker with wheels. A wheeled walker has wheels on the front two legs. Some have push down brakes on the back two legs while others have glides on the back legs. You can walk by simply rolling the walker ahead. Another option is commonly called a rollator walker. This walker has four wheels, hand brakes and a seat. It is a good option for persons who become tired when walking and need to sit down. Most rollators come with a basket.
Question: Does Medicare cover walkers?
Answer: Yes, if you have difficulty walking, Medicare will cover 80% of the cost of a walker. The product requires a doctor’s prescription. If you desire a rollator walker, the prescription should say “Wheeled walker with a seat.”
Question: Is size important when selecting a walker?
Answer: It is important that you use a walker that fits you properly. The top of the walker should come approximately to the joint between your legs and hip. If your walker is too short or too tall, you will be unsteady and will be at risk for a fall. Most walkers have adjustable heights and at Home Health Products, we will adjust the walker to fit you. Also, always take your weight into consideration, as most walkers have maximum weight capacities.
Question: We are planning a vacation with my aunt who is very fragile. What type of equipment would you suggest to help her stay involved in the activities that we have planned?
Answer: Have you considered renting a manual wheelchair? We offer wheelchairs that are lightweight and portable. You can store the wheelchair in the vehicle trunk. They are available with detachable arms for easy transfer in and out of a vehicle. We offer the option of a short-term rental if you need the chair just during the vacation.
Question: My mother is needing a manual wheelchair. What are the most important things to look for in a wheelchair?
Answer: The wheelchair must fit the user and the user’s environment. At Home Health Products, we begin by selecting a chair to fit the patient’s height and weight. We adjust the armrests and footrests to fit the user. We make sure that the seat depth and width are appropriate. We assess the patient’s home environment to make sure the wheelchair is appropriate for the home. We carry several sizes and types of manual wheelchairs including standard, youth, lightweight, heavy-duty and bariatric. We will custom fit a chair to your mother’s needs.
Question: My mother will be using her wheelchair for most of the day. Do you have anything that can relieve the pressure of sitting for long hours?
Answer: A patient who sits for several hours per day in a wheelchair seat is at risk for developing pressure sores. We have several optional items for pressure relief. Your mother may feel more comfortable using a padded seat and back. The seat pads come in several varieties such as foam and gel. We will adjust your mother’s wheelchair back, seat and armrests to accommodate the chair seat and back.
Question: I get short of breath sometimes. Can I buy oxygen to keep on hand?
Answer: Many people do not realize that the government classifies oxygen as a prescription drug. You will not be able to buy oxygen unless you have a prescription from your doctor. I recommend that you talk to your doctor about your condition. Your doctor will decide if oxygen is good treatment for you.
Question: I have a new prescription for oxygen. What is it anyway?
Answer: Oxygen is a colorless, tasteless, odorless gas that is required for life. The air that you breathe contains approximately 21% oxygen. Your physician has prescribed a higher amount of oxygen than is possible to obtain by breathing room air.
Question: If I am going to be on oxygen therapy, does it mean I will have to stay home attached to oxygen tubing?
Answer: In years past, it was difficult for oxygen patients to be active in the community. However, technology has improved for oxygen therapy. There are many options that give freedom for the patient. You will not have to stay at home to get oxygen therapy. We now have available lightweight liquid portable oxygen devices, portable oxygen concentrators, conserving devices for small oxygen cylinders and oxygen concentrators that can fill portable cylinders in the home. Look for an oxygen provider that gives you choices to meet your individual needs.
Question: I keep hearing about oxygen concentrators. What are they?
Answer: An oxygen concentrator is a machine that takes room air and converts it over to concentrated oxygen by removing the nitrogen. Room air has approximately 21% oxygen. Once the room air passes through the oxygen concentrator, the patient will breathe oxygen at a purity level of 93% to 95%. The concentrator is about the size of a suitcase. An oxygen concentrator is a good solution for oxygen patients to use while at home.
Question: If I need portable oxygen, will I have to wait for oxygen deliveries? Can I refill my portable unit myself?
Answer: Yes, there are two oxygen systems that will give you the freedom to refill your own portables. That way, you will not have to wait for deliveries. We have the Invacare Homefill System and the HELiOS Liquid System available. We also have available portable concentrators. The portable concentrator can be plugged into the cigarette lighter in the car. It runs off batteries and is airline approved.
Question: Will liquid oxygen benefit me?
Answer: Liquid oxygen is a great option for the patient who is very active and mobile. Liquid oxygen is a good choice for patients who like to travel.
Question: What is HELiOS?
Answer: HELiOS is a liquid oxygen system designed so you can fill your portable oxygen device yourself. That gives you more freedom. The HELiOS portable is only 3.4 pounds, so it is lightweight. It has a conserving device built in it to make the oxygen last longer. Depending on how fast you breathe, your HELiOS portable could last five or more hours.
Question: I have heard about the Homefill System. What is it?
Answer: Homefill is a compressed gas system that you can refill your own portable oxygen cylinders in your own home. This means greater freedom for you, since you will not have to wait for oxygen deliveries.
Question: I use oxygen and lately I have noticed that my nose is dry and sore. What can I do?
Answer: There are several types of cannulas available and you may request a different type. Also, there are various products such as brand names Can-ease and Roezit that are designed to help keep your nose more comfortable. Be careful not to use any petroleum jelly or another product that contains petroleum, as this may cause a fire. If you doctor requests, you may add a humidifier to your oxygen system.
Question: My ears get sore from wearing my cannula. How can I get some relief?
Answer: We offer a product called Oxy-ears, which is a small foam pad that goes around the ears to cushion and reduce irritation.
Question: Is oxygen a fire danger? Will I be safe?
Answer: Oxygen does not burn by itself, but it is one of the three ingredients along with heat and fuel that are necessary for a fire to occur. We always conduct a home assessment when we set up oxygen and we train how to use it safely. You do not have to fear oxygen, but you should use it wisely. Never smoke when oxygen is in use or use your oxygen near an open flame. Do not use oil or grease on your oxygen equipment. Make sure that you have fire alarms, a fire extinguisher and a fire exit plan for your home.
Question: Since I have a prescription for oxygen, will my Medicare or my insurance pay for it?
Answer: Medicare and private insurance require blood tests that tell how much oxygen you have in your blood. Insurance coverage depends on the test results.
Question: I have heard you mention the patient’s right to choose. What does that mean to me?
Answer: According to Medicare law, a patient has the right to choose his or her medical provider. That means you have the right to choose your doctor, your home care company and your pharmacy. You have the right to choose which medical equipment company that you use for your oxygen and your home medical equipment. Your doctor cannot make that choice for you without your consent. Legally, you, the patient, should make that choice.
Question: From a patient’s viewpoint, what things should I look for when I choose a medical equipment company?
Answer: A few years ago, I cared for my husband in our home during his long bout with cancer. I also helped care for a very dear terminally ill friend, who I considered as part of my family. In taking care of these two persons, it was important for me to use a company that was a real part of our community. I wanted a company that was locally owned, because I think that the people of Altus help and support one another. I wanted a company that had a loving and compassionate staff. I found that the technicians of Home Health Products came out in the middle of the night when I needed them and they really cared about my difficult situation. I wanted a company that gave me options, including the latest technology. I wanted a company who knew the business and had longstanding expertise. The technicians and the billing staff really took care of my family and they really knew exactly what they were doing. I was confident in their ability to help.
Question: I am worried that if I get a piece of medical equipment, I won’t know how to use it. It looks too difficult for me. What can I do?
Answer: I think that one of the things I appreciated most when my husband was ill was the calm, patient teaching that the Home Health Products staff provided me. Even though I am in the business, it is different when you are using the equipment for a family member. I needed to learn from the viewpoint of a anxious caregiver. The technicians spent a lot of time patiently teaching me about each piece of equipment and how to use it. They answered all my questions and they did not leave until I was comfortable. Don’t worry about learning to use the equipment, because our technicians will work with you until your anxiety has gone away. Also, the technicians are on call 24 hours a day if you need extra help.
Question: How do I know that your technicians are setting up the equipment correctly?
Answer: At Home Health Products, we take education very seriously. We send our technicians to manufacturer-sponsored training whenever available. For example, our Repair Tech has been certified by U.S. Rehab with the highest level of certification and our Oxygen Technician has received hands on oxygen education from the leading manufacturers of oxygen equipment. Also, we have a mandatory training session every week to keep our staff members current on proper procedures and new technology.
Question: What do I do if I need help with my medical equipment after your store is closed?
Answer: It is our goal to be at your service 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. If you have a problem with your equipment or if you need oxygen, you can call us at anytime. Our regular phone number, 580-379-6800, is answered around the clock. After regular business hours, one of our trained technicians will respond to your emergency needs.
Question: I notice that your and your fellow employees always check my house for safety problems. What do you look for?
Answer: As part of our regular service, we conduct a safety assessment for our clients. It is important to us that our clients are safe. We look for hazards that may cause you to fall. We look for items such as faulty electrical plugs and open flames that may cause a fire. We check for working fire extinguishers and smoke alarms. We look for any situation in your environment that may cause you harm.
Question: My doctor just prescribed a walker. How can I use it safely?
Answer: If you have been prescribed a walker, then you need a little help with mobility. Get rid of clutter that may be in a hallway, doorway or walkway. Make sure that you have moved throw rugs from the walkways in your home, so that you do not trip. Make sure there are no extension cords that cross the walkways. Be especially careful if there are steps in your home. Try to clear the floors as much as possible. Watch for uneven floors or loose boards and small pets. At night, keep a night-light burning so that you do not trip in the darkness.
Question: If I am going to use a power wheelchair, what adjustments will I need to make in my home?
Answer: When we place a power wheelchair in your home, we always conduct an in-home assessment to insure adequate width of doorways and other passageways within the home. We recommend that you utilize the slower speed on the chair when acclimating to the chair. Also, be careful to avoid traveling too close to furniture and other obstacles. Because of our detailed home assessment, you should have minimal adjustments but maximum benefits in accessing all areas of your home.
Question: What safety concerns are there if I use home oxygen?
Answer: Oxygen itself does not burn, but it promotes combustion when combined with fuel and heat. Keep your oxygen equipment away from any open flame. Position your equipment so that there is good ventilation around it. Do not use any petroleum-based products around the oxygen. This includes petroleum jelly on your skin. Make sure your oxygen cylinders are in stands or carts and do not store them in your closet. The most important safety tip is that you should not smoke while using your oxygen and you should not allow others to smoke in the same room with you and your equipment. We suggest that you post “No Smoking” signs on your door as a reminder.
Question: Is it important to have a back up source of oxygen?
Answer: In Southwest Oklahoma, we sometimes have power outages due to storms. Oxygen concentrators operate on electricity. Therefore, Home Health Products always delivers back up oxygen cylinders to use in case of a power failure. We will give to you enough oxygen for you to use until our technicians can reach you. It is important to us that you have plenty of oxygen to use in a disaster.
Question: I’m struggling with daily duties because of limited mobility and dexterity. What kind of medical equipment does Home Health Products carry that would help me?
Answer: We have standard walkers, rollator walkers with wheels and seats and wheelchairs to help you get around your home. We have commode extenders, tub transfer benches, shower seats, grab bars and hand-held showers to make your bathroom safe and accessible for you. You might consider a reacher-grabber to help you reach items that have fallen on the floor or are stored in a cabinet out of reach. Many of our customers realize that using some or all of these products help them accomplish daily tasks with greater independence and confidence.
Question: In an emergency, can I get help from you?
Answer: We are on call 24 hours a day to help our patients for emergencies involving our medical equipment. If you have any problems with your oxygen or medical equipment, we will help you. You can call our regular telephone number after hours and one of our technicians will return the call. Remember though that if you have a medical emergency not involving our equipment, you should call 9-1-1 for help.
Power Chair Repairs
Question: What is the difference between a scooter and a power chair?
Answer: A scooter is a mobility device with either three or four wheels that is maneuvered by a tiller steering column. A power chair is heavier and more stable than a scooter. It will not tilt from side to side. It has a shorter turning radius and more stable seating.
Question: Which is better for me: a scooter or a power wheelchair?
Answer: A scooter is lighter and easier to transport. It is a good choice if your device is to be used outside. However, a scooter is difficult to turn in small spaces. You must have trunk stability to operate the steering mechanism in a scooter.
A power wheelchair is best if you will be using the chair in a home with narrow hallways and narrow doors. A power chair has a small turning radius, so it can turn around at the end of a hallway. A power chair is easier to operate and the seat gives more support. It is usually easier to get in and out of a power wheelchair than a scooter.
Question: If I want a power chair or scooter, will Medicare pay for it?
Answer: Television commercials make it look as if anybody who wants a power chair can have one for free. However, Medicare doesn’t look at it this way.
Medicare requires that you have a face-to-face visit with your doctor. Your doctor must decide if it is in your best interest to get a power wheelchair. Your doctor must decide if you need a wheelchair in your home so that you can do the basic activities of life such as getting meals, getting to the bathroom and grooming. You must have trouble walking and you must have some weakness in your arms so that you can’t operate a manual type wheelchair. If your doctor writes a prescription and you need the power wheelchair in your home, Medicare will cover 80% of the costs. If you have another insurance, your second insurance may pay the rest of the cost.
Question: Why should I consider getting a power wheelchair from a dealer in my hometown instead of from a company I saw on television?
Answer: A power chair is like any piece of equipment. Sometimes it will need repair. Obtaining repairs from a company whose location is miles away will take time and you may have to be without your chair until they can get to you.
If you use a local company, you can call for help and we will be in your home usually the same day. We are on call 24 hours per day. We have chairs we will loan to you while your chair is being repaired. You will never have to go without the use of a power chair.
Question: I know that my power chair runs off batteries. What kind of batteries does it use?
Answer: Your power chair uses two 12-volt batteries. They are gel filled and sealed so that they will not leak.
Question: How long will the battery charge last on my power chair?
Answer: It always depends on the person using the chair. If it is used continually, it can last 8 to 12 hours. If it is used only 2 to 3 times a day, it can last up to three days.
Question: How long does it take to charge my wheelchair batteries?
Answer: I tell people to charge their chair while they sleep. A good rule of thumb is 8 hours. Plug in your chair when you go to bed each night.
Question: How many miles can I travel in my power chair before the batteries get low?
Answer: On a full charge, your chair can travel 12 to 15 miles before the batteries get low.
Question: What should I use to clean my power chair?
Answer: The best thing I have found is a foam type window cleaner. You do not use soap and water, because water can rust and ruin the motor and wiring.
Question: What if I get a flat tire?
Answer: All the new model chairs come with flat free tires. If your chair still has the old type tires, we can replace the tires with flat free.
Seat Lift Chairs
Question: Now that I have developed arthritis, I have trouble getting up out of my chair. Do you have anything that can help me?
Answer: A seat lift chair is designed for persons with the problem of getting out of a chair. The chair looks like a recliner. It has a remote control that reclines the chair like any recliner, but also, it will raise the chair slowly until you are in a standing position.
Question: Is a seat lift chair a piece of furniture or is it medical equipment?
Answer: Actually, it is both. Medicare and insurances consider the lift mechanism inside the chair as a medical device, but the chair itself, including the frame, the cushions and the fabric, is furniture. If you want Medicare to help you pay for the chair, you must purchase it from a Medicare-approved medical equipment supplier.
Question: My doctor wrote a prescription for a seat lift chair. Does that mean Medicare will buy it for me?
Answer: If you qualify for Medicare coverage for a seat lift chair, Medicare will only pay for the mechanism that is inside the chair. Therefore, Medicare coverage will be for only part of the chair. Medicare will reimburse about $330 and you will be responsible to pay the rest.
Question: If I have a prescription, will Medicare cover the seat lift mechanism?
Answer: Medicare has very specific rules concerning coverage for seat lift mechanisms. You must have severe arthritis of the hip or knee or neurological or muscular disease that prevents you from getting up from a regular chair. Also, you must be able to walk once you are in a standing position.
Question: I have two prescriptions, one for a seat lift chair and one for a wheelchair. Can I have both products?
Answer: Medicare law states that if you get a seat lift chair, you must be able to walk once you are in a standing position. If you need a wheelchair, Medicare believes that you cannot walk. Therefore, Medicare won’t cover both products at the same time.
Question: Why are my height, weight and other measurements important when I am shopping for a seat lift chair?
Answer: Most people who buy seat lift chairs spend several hours a day in the chair. It is important for the chair to be the right size to fit you, so that you can be comfortable. You should measure from your knee to the floor, so that your feet will reach the floor comfortably when you sit in your seat lift chair. You should measure from the back of your hips to the knees when you are sitting down, so we can choose a chair with the perfect seat depth to fit you. Also, your height from your hips to your head will determine the right height of the chair back. Your weight will determine the correct strength of the frame.
Question: What options do I have when choosing a seat lift chair?
Answer: At Home Health Products, we stock seat lift chairs from the most reputable manufacturers in the industry: Pride, Golden and Medlift. There are a variety of prices, styles and sizes to fit the individual. We can order chairs in an array of colors and fabric choices. Some chairs come with flip open arms for storage. Others recline into a bed. Others have heat and massage. We can order chairs that support weight up to 700 pounds.