Hospital beds are very beneficial for seniors and often necessary. The only problem? They aren’t cheap- not by a long shot! The average hospital bed and mattress costs about $1,400, and some models cost more than twice that amount.
Many seniors cannot afford to spend that amount on one item, which leads them to wonder if they might get one for free. Free hospital beds for elderly people can be gotten from a few different methods, from simply searching around, to going through the Medicare/Medicaid system.
In this article, you’ll learn the best ways to get a hospital bed for free, and find helpful links to help you in your search!
How to Get a Free Hospital Bed for Home Use
How to Get Used Hospital Beds For Free
The biggest trouble of finding a used hospital bed for free is knowing where to look. Because hospital beds are heavy, hard to move, and don’t have a lot of resale value, lots of people are willing to give theirs away for free. If you have the means to pick one up, the easiest way to find a used hospital bed is by checking places like Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace to see if someone in your area has a bed they’re looking to part with.
Another simple method, albeit one with no guarantees, is by asking around your local community. Many people use hospital beds, and there is a decent chance you could track one down by asking a local church, sportsman’s lodge, or senior citizen’s group. Of course, there is an equal chance that you’ll have no luck at all!
There is a better way to get a used hospital bed for free- local charities. There are charities in every state that provide free hospital beds to seniors and other people who need them. For a complete list of these charities, you can check this directory.
Charities like these are reserved for people who need a hospital bed but cannot afford to pay for it themselves or get it through any other channel. This means that, if it’s determined you have more options, you likely won’t receive a hospital bed from a charitable organization. But, for those who do qualify, these charities are the absolute best way to get a used hospital bed for free!
Free Hospital Beds for Veterans
There are many charities, organizations, and groups that look out for veterans, no matter how many years it has been since they’ve left the service. First, the Veteran-Directed Care Program provides cash to veterans who have a demonstrable medical need and can be used to pay for a hospital bed. Contacting your local VA is the best way to find out if this program applies to you, and get the paperwork started!
Though it may not be completely free, Tricare has a supplemental health insurance program available to veterans. Tricare is managed by the Defense Health System, a government organization responsible for making sure military personnel and their families have access to healthcare.
Tricare itself offers health insurance of all types to active and former service members of their families, but we will focus on the benefits for retired veterans for now. If you are an individual, retired from military service, and enrolled in Medicare, Tricare costs only $12.50 each month.
The plan will cover almost any healthcare costs leftover by Medicare, including hospital beds. So, if Medicare pays for 80% of your hospital bed (more on that below), Tricare will cover the remaining 20%, making your bed free! Well, not technically free, but $12.50 is about 1% of the overall cost of a hospital bed!
Free Hospital Beds Through Medicare and Medicaid
Medicare will cover 80% of the cost of a hospital bed for seniors who need one. If you are approved for a hospital bed, your supplemental private insurance, personal money, or Medicaid (if applicable) will cover the final 20%.
How to Get Approved
How do you get approved for a free hospital bed through Medicare? It all boils down to need- that means getting a prescription from a doctor. If you are in the hospital for a sickness, injury, or surgery, your doctor might determine that you will continue to need the benefits of a hospital bed even while receiving outpatient care. If that is the case, they will write you a prescription before you are discharged, and you may even be able to have your new hospital bed waiting for you when you get home!
If you are not prescribed a hospital bed during your stay, or realize you need one but aren’t currently in a hospital, you should make an appointment at a physician’s office immediately. Share with your doctor your medical concerns and needs, and they will write you the prescription if they determine you need it!
Free Hospital Beds Through Medicaid
Medicaid is a bit of a different story. Whereas Medicare is open to all seniors 65 or over, Medicaid is reserved for seniors and younger people who have disabilities and can demonstrate financial need. Furthermore, Medicare is a federal program, while Medicaid is run at the state level. So, while Medicaid does pay for hospital beds, the rules and guidelines for eligibility vary from state to state.
People who are approved for a hospital bed through Medicaid will receive it completely for free, but getting approved is a different process from state to state. You can check your state’s guidelines here, but the general rule of Medicaid is that you’ll be approved if you have a serious medical need and cannot afford to pay for it yourself.
Medicaid is notorious for being difficult to deal with; state Medicaid offices tend to be underfunded and understaffed. This could lead to you waiting several weeks for paperwork to go through, applications to be reviewed, and funding to be approved. But, for seniors and people with disabilities who live in low-income situations, there is no better option than getting a hospital bed completely for free through Medicare!
How Hard is it to Get Approved?
It depends on the doctor, but most of the time it isn’t very hard to get approved for a free hospital bed through Medicare and Medicaid. If you meet the criteria, it’s a breeze. If not, you’ll have to figure something else out.
The good news is, though, that your doctor gets paid when they prescribe you a hospital bed (and they don’t get paid as much when they decline to write it). That doesn’t mean they’ll give you a prescription for no reason- they could lose their medical license. But, it does mean they have an incentive to decide in your favor on “close calls”!
That means that the odds are on your side for getting a free hospital bed through Medicare and Medicaid!
The Downside of Medicare/Medicaid
You may already have some experience getting medical devices through Medicare. In that case, you’ll be familiar with your options being limited to what providers are in Medicare’s network, and how much they allow you to spend on each item. Often, the options Medicare gives you are on the lower end of price and therefore quality.
Some people who are approved for a free hospital bed through Medicare are disappointed to find out that they have a pretty limited selection of hospital beds. Often, seniors are only able to choose beds that are semi-electric and generally less expensive. This leads some seniors to seek out a hospital bed elsewhere, even if it isn’t free.
Of course, getting a free hospital bed that is of “just okay” quality is better than nothing at all. But, for seniors who might have other options, Medicare isn’t the best way to obtain a hospital bed. If you have the money, it’s worth it to buy a top-quality hospital bed out-of-pocket. If you don’t have the money, you can still trust that your Medicare-provided hospital bed will be functional- it just won’t be luxurious.
Conclusion: Getting a Free Hospital Bed
Getting a free hospital bed isn’t easy, but it is worth it. Medicare and Medicaid should be the first option for most seniors, but veterans should take advantage of veteran-specific programs that may be better than Medicare alone. Finally, for people who cannot get a hospital bed in these ways, many charities will help you get a new or used hospital bed for free!
Have you had much luck finding a hospital bed for free? Do you have anything to share with other readers that might help them out? Feel free to leave them in the comments section below! And, as always, thanks for reading!