Does Medicare Cover Humidifiers?

Tamera Jackson by Tamera Jackson | Licensed since 2007
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This article was updated on: 09/10/2018

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If you have problems with a dry throat or chronic congestion in your nose, your doctor may recommend you use a humidifier at home to help alleviate some of your symptoms that may be caused by dry air. Even though your doctor might recommend a home humidifier, however, Medicare doesn’t cover humidifiers in most cases. Medicare only covers certain types of humidifiers and only under very specific conditions. Here’s what you need to know about Medicare and humidifiers.

What are humidifiers used for?

Doctors might recommend humidifiers to help relieve certain symptoms, according to the Centers for Disease Control, such as:

  • Nasal congestion
  • Dry cough
  • Sore throat

If you live in a colder climate, you may notice your symptoms get worse in the winter months when you need to use heat, which dries out the air. A humidifier may help alleviate your symptoms by restoring a comfortable moisture level to the dry air in your home.

What are the different types of home humidifiers?

There are four main types of home humidifiers, according to Consumer Reports. The first three are generally called “cool mist” humidifiers, and the last one a “warm mist” humidifier.

  • Ultrasonic humidifiersThese machines work by using ultrasonic vibrations to create water mist, according to the Environmental Protection Agency..
  • Evaporative humidifiersThese work quite simply by blowing air through a wet wick or similar filter, sending moisture into the air. They are also energy-efficient and usually virtually silent, ideal for bedrooms.
  • Impeller humidifiers. Using a spinning disk, the humidifier blows cool mist into the room.
  • Warm mist/steam vaporizers. A warm mist or steam vaporizer heats water until steam forms, then releases it into the room.

When does Medicare cover humidifiers?

In general, Medicare treats humidifiers the same as other in-home comfort equipment, such as room heaters, dehumidifiers, and portable air purifiers. These machines typically don’t meet the criteria for durable medical equipment under Part B of the Medicare program. If you purchase humidifiers for dry air at home, you will usually pay 100% of the charges yourself.

However, if the humidifier is used with other covered durable medical equipment, and your doctor believes it is medically necessary, Medicare Part B may cover part of the cost of a humidifier. For example, if you use certain oxygen equipment that’s covered under Medicare, a medically necessary humidifier might be covered under your Part B benefits. In this case, you would not pay a separate charge for an oxygen humidifier, because it would be included in the monthly rental charges for your home oxygen equipment.

Your portion of durable medical equipment costs under Part B is usually 20% of the Medicare-approved cost, and the Part B deductible applies. Oxygen and related supplies, such as a humidifier used with oxygen, must meet Medicare’s durable medical equipment (DME) requirements. Your doctor and your equipment supplier must accept Medicare assignment. In some areas, you may be affected by Medicare’s Competitive Bidding program for DME. To make sure you get the equipment from a Medicare-contracted supplier, you might want to choose from Medicare.gov’s list of suppliers. Note that if you’re enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan, competitive bidding rules may not apply; contact your plan to find a covered supplier.

If you have questions about when Medicare covers the cost of humidifiers, I’m happy to help you understand your benefits. You can schedule a phone call at your convenience or request an email with information just for you by clicking on the appropriate buttons below. To see a list of plans you may qualify for in your area, click the “Compare plans” button.

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