Does Medicare Cover the Cost of Elastic Bandages?

Steven Mott by Steven Mott | Licensed since 2012
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This article was updated on: 10/20/2017

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If you have a minor sprain or strain, elastic bandages may help in the recovery process by providing support for the injury and minimizing swelling. Elastic bandages can also be used to treat and prevent more serious conditions, such as venous leg ulcers.

Learn more about elastic bandages and whether Medicare covers this type of medical supply.

What are elastic bandages?

An elastic bandage is a stretchable piece of fabric used as a dressing for a wound or injury. Also known as a compression bandage, it works by providing gentle pressure to the injury site and improving blood flow to that area. This reduces swelling and can aid in the healing process for injuries like strains and sprains. According to the National Institutes of Health, elastic bandages may also be effective in treating venous leg ulcers, which occur when blood in the veins gets blocked, causing swelling in the legs when the blood can’t flow freely from the legs to the heart.

Elastic bandages can be used for a variety of purposes. According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, compression bandages can be used as a secondary dressing that holds another bandage in place over the wound. To treat severe swelling, elastic bandages with higher compression can be layered to increase support and pressure over the injury. Elastic bandages may also help treat post-burn swelling by improving circulation, according to the National Institutes of Health. It may also be used to hold other types of medical equipment in place, such as an infusion pump or tubing.

To use an elastic bandage, you generally start by first placing gauze or padding directly over the over the injury and then wrapping the compression bandage on top. Elastic bandages often come in a variety of lengths and widths, depending on the size of the injury and body part. Some types are pre-treated with an antimicrobial coating to stop the development of bacteria and mask smells. Most elastic bandages are washable and reusable.

How much do elastic bandages cost?

Although this will depend on the brand, fabric, and size you purchase, elastic bandages are generally inexpensive. Even the larger or more costly types tend to be less than $10 for a single bandage.

Where can I get elastic bandages?

You can generally purchase elastic bandages from any pharmacy, general merchandise store, or online. If you’re getting treatment for an injury in a hospital or outpatient setting, elastic bandages may be available as part of your wound care services (see below for more info on coverage).

Does Medicare cover elastic bandages?

Medicare Part B may cover bandages if you need surgical wound care services in a hospital outpatient setting. If the bandages are medically necessary to treat a wound that has been either caused by or treated by surgery, they may be covered. Medicare may also cover elastic bandages with medium or high compression if multiple bandages are used to treat a venous stasis ulcer.

Under Part B, you’ll pay nothing for the supplies themselves. However, you’ll pay 20% of the Medicare-approved amount for doctor services, and the Part B deductible applies. If you get surgical dressing services in a hospital outpatient setting, you’ll also owe a fixed copayment.

Elastic bandages aren’t covered if they’re needed for non-surgical issues, such as tears, sprains, or swelling (edema). Medicare only covers certain wound care supplies if they’re needed to treat a surgical wound. First-aid type bandages and gauze are also usually not covered by Medicare.

Would you like to learn more about Medicare coverage of durable medical equipment and supplies? I can help you find plan options that help with out-of-pocket costs. Feel free to schedule a phone appointment with me or request more information by email; use the links below for both of those options. Or, if you’d like to start browsing on your own, click the Compare Plans button on this page; you can even enter in your medications to view plan options that cover your prescription drugs. If you need to talk to someone at any point, give us a call during business hours at the number below to reach a licensed insurance agent.

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