Renting vs Buying Durable Medical Equipment (DME)
Is renting durable medical equipment (DME) less expensive than buying? If you are paying the total cost of DME out-of-pocket, then renting may be a less expensive option than purchasing. See below for some topics when considering DME rentals.
Some factors to consider:
The length of the rental period is the most important factor when looking into DME rentals. Often, it is not possible to know how long caregivers will need to rent equipment, therefore a good rule of thumb if you don’t know is to estimate in 6-month periods. Will the item be required for 6, 12, 18, 24 months etc.?
Another factor, often overlooked when purchasing, is how much the used piece of equipment is worth once the item is no longer needed. Caregivers should consider both the lower resale value of the item and the difficulties associated with the re-sale process in addition to advertising and especially shipping costs. To get an idea of the possible value of an item, you can search the “completed listings” for similar items on-line.
Durable medical equipment rental agreements usually cover the cost of maintenance and repairs. When purchasing DME, the buyer is responsible for those costs. Consider the maintenance schedule, cost to maintain, and likelihood of having to make repairs. For example, a hospital bed does not require extensive maintenance but powered wheelchairs or other complex equipment often require maintenance or calibration. If maintenance is required, how difficult is it for an elderly, care giver, or disabled individual to have it done? Is on-site servicing a possibility or does the caregiver or patient need to take the item to a service center to be repaired?
Ease of Travel
Does the patient or individual who needs to use DME stay in the same home, room, or other location for long periods of time? Moving delicate or bulky DME is almost impossible with air travel and only slightly less difficult with a vehicle. Most DME rental companies will deliver and pick-up equipment and some have multiple locations around the country that can help individuals who move frequently or travel.
High Upfront vs. Lower Monthly Costs
Lastly, are the larger upfront costs associated with purchasing DME affordable for the individual or care givers or is there a need for a lower monthly payment for families on a fixed income?