Find Free Used Medical Equipment for Low-Income People
If you’re one of the countless people in America making ends meet on a low income, you already know how difficult it can be to get the things you need. When you or someone you love develops a medical issue that requires expensive equipment, finding that equipment for free or low cost can seem impossible.
Luckily, there are state-sponsored and private programs that provide free used medical equipment to people in need. Here, we will discuss what types of equipment you can get from these programs and whether you qualify to receive them. We’re also going to give you a run-down of where you can find medical equipment for free (or at a very low price).
Read on for strategies, ideas, and advice!
What Type of Medical Equipment Can You Obtain?
Before beginning your search for used medical equipment, you likely are wondering what specific items you can receive from these programs. There is a vast array of equipment that you can receive via government-sponsored and private programs, including but not limited to:
- Personal mobility devices (such as canes, wheelchairs, vehicle lifts, and portable wheelchair ramps)
- Seat lift chairs
- Hospital beds that are no longer needed by the facility that once used them
- Breathing equipment (such as ventilators)
- Shower or bath chairs
- Sensory aids (such as glasses and hearing aids)
If you cannot find the item you need at one agency, you will likely find it at another. Call around the places you find in your research and ask whether the specific piece(s) of equipment you need is available and what is required for you to secure it. Once you’ve tracked down the item you need, make arrangements to pick it up safely. Calling ahead to search for items will save you time, effort, and unnecessary risk.
All used medical equipment from reputable facilities will come efurbished. Items will be durable and long-lasting. The items will have been kindly donated by their original owners who no longer need them before being cleaned and given away to people in need. (Of course, like any used item, you will probably want to clean and disinfect the equipment thoroughly before use.)
Where Can Low-Income People Find This Equipment?
Donated items will often be given away for free, but be absolutely sure that you get them from a reputable provider.
Items from disreputable sources may not have been cleaned appropriately, which can cause disease. They may also fall apart quickly, and your hard work in searching for them will all be for nothing. They can even be dangerous or deadly if components are worn out or broken.
So, where can you find reliable free used medical equipment for low-income people? It likely is closer than you think.
If You Have Insurance
Those insured by Medicare and Medicaid can get equipment through their insurance agencies.
You will first need to get an assessment from a doctor to ensure that you qualify to receive medical aid. If you do not already have one, you can find a physician’s practice that accepts your insurance and meets the needs of your family.
This process will be necessary for larger pieces of equipment such as hospital beds and some wheelchairs. For those who need smaller equipment like canes, bath chairs, and some wheelchairs, a doctor’s prescription will be sufficient and may not require a formal assessment.
After that, you’ll need to search for a medical supply company that will bill your insurance rather than you. Make sure you research any company you are thinking of contacting by Googling them first, because you may find a whole lot of one-star reviews. Many low-income people have been taken advantage of by companies that told them their insurance would be accepted, only to find out later that this was false. You can also call your insurance provider at the number on the back of your card to confirm coverage with a given provider.
If your only insurance is Medicare, you may also be charged a co-pay for your item. This can still be a wise use of limited funds if your need is great and you want to be sure the equipment is reliable.
If You Don’t Have (Or Don’t Want to Use) Insurance.
If you don’t have insurance or need to avoid a co-pay, there are still options for obtaining used medical equipment for free. This will usually come from a state-sponsored government program such as Alabama’s R.E.A.L project or Nebraska’s AT4ALL assistive technology service.
Every state has its own programs for getting free medical equipment. To explore options in your area, Google “free used medical equipment near me” or “free used medical equipment [your city, county, or state]” and start clicking links and calling around. It may take some digging, but odds are good that you will find an organization near you that can help.
Many charity-based organizations give donated equipment to those who are most in need of it. You often won’t even need an assessment to obtain the items you need, although again some facilities require a prescription. You can call the center and ask what they have in stock.
Some facilities may also allow you to borrow free medical equipment. An example is New York’s Suffolk Independent Living Organization, where you can borrow from their inventory of over 300 pieces of donated equipment. If you don’t need the equipment forever, this may be the right choice for you.
Other facilities that are not donation-based such as Goodwill Home Medical Equipment in multiple states, have special warehouses that offer low-price solutions. While they are not free, these are good options for low-income people who cannot find other programs that they qualify for.
Who Qualifies for Free Used Medical Equipment?
Much like other government programs like SNAP, the qualifications for getting medical equipment vary from state to state. Not only that, but different agencies within the same state may have different qualifications.
Some agencies will service anyone who comes in without exception. These are a safe bet for all people in need, but they do come with downsides. There may not be any in your area, meaning that you or a loved one might need to travel to obtain the equipment. They also may cost a small bit of money, which is not feasible for some.
Other agencies will give free medical equipment only to people in certain income brackets. If you are suffering financially, these options may be right for you. Just be mindful that some facilities will only serve those from a specific area because they are specifically intended for local users.
The bottom line is that you’ll need to do some local research and contact agencies near you. Ensure that they are qualified and reputable before deciding to use their equipment, and be sure to connect with them by phone or email before making any trips.
Finally, always trust your gut. If you don’t get a good feeling about a provider or situation, don’t hesitate to move on to the next one, even if you can’t quite put your finger on why you don’t feel comfortable. There are so many programs out there that you’re sure to find a good fit eventually.
Tips for Finding Medical Equipment Near You
You may think that finding a ‘perfect fit’ is easier said than done, but in reality, there are many ways that you can make the search easier on yourself. First, when you get frustrated searching, take a breath and a break. Go and relax, take a walk, take a bath, or eat something that you enjoy. This brain-break will get you back on track so that you can have a fruitful medical equipment search afterward.
When searching, keep in mind that you will come across some websites with age specifications. Some medical equipment will be labeled as ‘equipment for seniors’ or have similar taglines. You may want to ignore this and contact them anyway.
Many sites market to seniors because of the ableist assumption that those with health issues are usually older, but you can always contact them and inquire about the equipment you need. If they turn you down because of your age, you can at least say that you tried.
Finally, be persistent. Persevere and continue to ask about free used medical equipment. Please don’t give up after a few phone calls; you may need to make dozens of them before you find something. Trying every option in your area increases your chances of finding the assistance that you need.
Find the Resources You Need
Now that you know where you can find free used medical equipment for low-income people, it’s time to begin getting the help you need. Apply for Lifeline service at StandUp Wireless today and get talk, text, and data you can use in your search.