There once was a time when your DME provider was there from delivery of your wheelchair through years of servicing, all the way to ordering a new wheelchair the next time around. In fact, many of us had the same DME provider for decades as we transitioned from wheelchair to wheelchair. We knew where to go, who to call, and service was certain.
Today, however, we live in a far different funding climate — one that is responsible for closing many local DME providers, has limited access to service, and has left many consumers asking a disconcerting question: Now what do I do?
It’s a tough time in the mobility market when it comes to maintaining a DME provider. However, by understanding the changes, and how to promptly address them, you can help preserve your access to mobility technology and service.
How the DME Provider Market is Changing
Competitive bidding, where Medicare puts DME goods up for bid, then selects the lowest-cost bidder in a region to be the sole retailer, is being phased in nationally, removing the ability for all but bid-winning providers to supply many Medicare-funded DME goods. Additionally, there’s a domino effect, where although DME providers may accept private insurance, Medicare and Medicaid funding is such a large overall funding source that many DME providers have been stripped of much of their business. Many long-time, local DME providers who haven’t won bids have simply gone out of business, leaving consumers to move to a regional bid-winner or seek out another provider — a perplexing and troublesome shift for consumers.
Interestingly, while any provider can still service DME goods, since competitive bidding mainly directs consumers to bid-winners for new product