Veterans sacrifice to preserve our freedom. Many of those who have served in the United States Armed Forces endure service-related injuries and disabilities receive medical and home-based care from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Some veterans have even received an adjustable bed in their home for either free or a low price.
Similar to Medicare, the VA will cover the cost of a hospital-style adjustable bed in a veteran’s home. To secure this free or reduced price adjustable bed, the veteran and his family or support system must complete required paperwork claiming there is a medical need for the adjustable bed and have documentation that supports their request. A physician must issue a prescription for the bed and claim it is medically necessary. The processing of requests sometimes takes a substantial amount of time.
Circumstances may vary in different regional locations and hospitals in the VA system. Sometimes, an approval leads to the veteran getting the bed in short order; in other circumstances, veterans have had to appeal the VA’s decision to deny their request.
In certain situations, such as when a veteran needs an adjustable bed for a set period after surgery or treatment, the bed may come as a rental. In other situations, where the veteran’s injuries require long-term care, the bed may arrive as a “rent-to-own” plan with federal dollars covering many or all of the payments. The VA has a co-pay schedule that outlines the veteran’s cost based upon the earnings and other factors.
VA Prosthetics Bed Program
An action approved in August 2004 approved the parameters of the VA’s Prosthetic Clinical Management Program (PCMP) that covered electric hospital beds at home. Full electric hospital beds with standard mattresses and appropriate rails for the veteran’s needs were approved for placement in a veteran’s home if they experienced a mobility impairment –either permanent or temporary — that made it difficult or impossible to use a conventional bed.
These prosthetic beds allow the individual to rest with proper respiratory function, keep their body in good alignment and posture, and alleviate pain. Some diagnoses of service-related injuries that may lead to the placement of this bed in a veteran’s home include:
- Amputee ( multiple limbs)
- Cardiac conditions
- Debilitating conditions or diseases
- Injury to lower extremities
- Serious cardiac conditions
- Spinal cord disorders care
- Stroke patients
The VA provides fact sheets and other information about some of the prosthetic and sensory aids that are available.
Adjustable Beds Are Considered Durable Medical Equipment
Under Medicare, if a person has certain medical ailments or conditions, an adjustable bed may be provided as a type of durable medical equipment (DME). Hospital beds and adjustable beds appropriately prescribed by a doctor are DME, according to Medicare. Certain beds, such as lounge beds, are not covered. Adjustable beds are not considered medically necessary if a person is not injured or sick.
Not all adjustable beds are covered by Medicare. A bed that may fall under Medicare coverage includes those that meet the following criteria:
- Adjusts either at the head or foot for necessary elevation
- Has a specified medical purpose
- Able to handle repeated use for a minimum product lifetime of 3 years
- Includes side rails that can be raised or lowered
- Placed in the person’s home for their exclusive use
Medicare requires individuals to pay a portion of the cost for adjustable beds and other DME. The adjustable bed must be rented or bought from a supplier that has accepted the price Medicare has established for rental or purchase. If a person cannot pay the difference between the total cost and the amount covered by Medicare, they have to seek financial assistance or other resources to cover their co-pay.
VA and TRICARE for Life (TFL): A Comparison with Medicare
Similar to Medicare and Medicaid, the VA will cover some or all of the expenses associated with a hospital or adjustable bed in your home if you served in the US Armed Forces and suffered service-related injuries or disabilities. A doctor must evaluate your condition and issue documentation affirming that this bed at your home is medically necessary to help your condition stabilize or improve.
Retired veterans may take advantage of supplemental medical insurance that assists with the cost of this equipment. TRICARE for Life (TFL) covers those enrolled in Medicare that may not have coverage for the full price of the medically necessary equipment. When retired veterans purchase DME, TFL assumes responsibility for the 20% co-payment that Medicare will not cover. TRICARE does cover the costs of either hospital and adjustable beds that are rented or purchased, as long as they have received the appropriate approval from a doctor.
In addition to TFL, another benefit — CHAMPVA for Life — also covers the same benefit for spouses of older vets who perished or were injured in service. Officially known as the Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs, CHAMPVA is a resource that helps family members of veterans.
Other Possible Options
Veterans have other options. In some situations, a veteran may be unable to get a prescription for an adjustable or hospital bed at their home. This lack of approval from a physician may occur even if the veteran believes they are entitled to this bed. The Veteran-Directed Home and Community Based Services Program (VD-HCBS) offers an option that may allow veterans to acquire a bed even without a prescription. This program offers veterans some degree of latitude to locate services and care practices that meet their needs.
The VA’s Aid & Attendance Program (A&A) offers another possible source of funding. To help some veterans who need assistance to cover funds for their daily life, this pension program provides some support through a beneficiary system. Some states and local governmental authorities may also have funding support available for veterans.
Locally inspired initiatives have gained regional and even national traction. For example, the Beds for Our Troops initiative gained notice in 2013 when Easy Rest Adjustable Sleep Systems, a company that sells adjustable beds, donated some to injured soldiers in this Beds for Our Troops program. Other programs have taken place at the local level in some communities.
If you have served our nation as a veteran and require an adjustable bed for improved sleep and overall health, explore your options. Contact your local VA office and veteran support organizations. Get assistance, if required, with completing any necessary documentation to share with a physician. If your request is denied, please keep fighting.