If you are a veteran, or related to a veteran, you should get the medical equipment and care that you need. It’s the least that your country can do for you after you have served it. Specifically, you can get a free hospital bed through the VA (Department of Veterans Affairs). You deserve the best hospital beds available without any cost. Luckily, the VA will cover durable medical equipment (DME), which includes hospital beds.
There is a bit of a process involved, but if you follow the instructions below, you should be able to have a free hospital bed in your own home.
VA Free Hospital Bed: First Step
Before you do anything, the first step for you to receive a free hospital bed is a physician needs to prescribe the hospital bed and deem it to be medically necessary for you. In many cases, this is just a formality, as most doctors will prescribe a hospital bed, as long as you need it. So make an appointment with your doctor and get the ball rolling.
VA Coverage of Hospital Beds
If you have Medicare Part A and Part B, the program will cover eighty percent of the hospital bed and TRICARE For Life (TFL)— a supplemental healthcare plan for uniformed service members, as well as those who are retired and their families — will cover your twenty percent copay, leaving you with no out of pocket costs.
Similarly, CHAMPVA (Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs) will pay for the cost of a hospital bed for the spouse or children of veterans. In other words, if you are not eligible for TRICARE For Life, CHAMPVA may cover your hospital bed. CHAMPVA will even cover a hospital bed for the spouse and children of some deceased veterans.
Obstacles to Getting a Free Hospital Bed for Veterans
Getting a free hospital bed for your home is not an easy task, but it is completely doable. You just may have to deal with some obstacles along the way. In the case that you are not able to receive a prescription for a hospital bed from your doctor, the VD-HCBS (Veteran-Directed Home and Community-Based Services) program will likely provide you with support.
What’s more, you may find state organizations that will give you additional support. Such state organizations often cover the cost of hospital beds or provide a free refurbished bed, if you reach out to them directly.
What Kind of Hospital Bed Are You Eligible for Through the VA?
According to the “Clinical Practice Recommendations for Prescription of Electrical Hospital Beds for the Home Setting” given by a working group in the VHA Prosthetic Clinical Management Program (PCMP), a veteran is eligible for an electric hospital bed if the veteran has “a permanent or temporary mobility impairment that would preclude him or her from using a conventional bed.”
This can be a bit confusing, but it really comes down to one thing: If a doctor feels that you need a full electric hospital bed then that’s what you will get. If you need something more or different than a full electric bed, then you can make a request through VACO (Veterans Affairs Central Office) for approval using VA Form 10-2641 (Authority for Issuance of Special and or Experimental Appliance), or you can make your request through a VISN (Veterans Integrated Service Network) Prosthetic Representative.
The aforementioned working group found that many people preferred a full electric hospital bed to a manual one (no surprise there). And so the group recommended full electric hospital beds be provided for those who need them.
Also, side bed rails, standard size pressure reducing mattresses, and trapezes were recommended as part of the group’s contract initiative. These are the elements of a good hospital bed and you should not settle for anything less.
Additional Grants for Veterans
Once you have your free hospital bed in your home, you may find that you need or want to make alternations to it so it fits your needs and circumstances better. The entire goal of getting a hospital bed is for it to improve your quality of life, so you want it to work for you. You don’t want to have to adapt to fit it or be stuck in an uncomfortable bed.
And so, you may want to look into getting additional grants, like HISA, SAH, and SHA. Such grants are not guaranteed and they might not cover the costs of what you need. They typically cover home modifications rather than alterations to durable medical equipment. But sometimes DME is considered part of the home and will be covered by the grants. It’s worth a shot at getting the alterations covered.
What Medical Conditions are Covered?
While it may be ultimately up to your doctor whether a hospital bed is deemed to be medically necessary for your medical condition, the PCMP working group recommended that individuals with certain conditions be given beds. These conditions include severe arthritis, cardiac conditions, multiple limb amputations, strokes, severely debilitating diseases, and spinal cord disorders.
The group also suggested that hospital beds be approved for patients who have a higher risk of falling and those with special medical needs, like cognitive and physical impairment requiring adaptive equipment.
As a veteran or a loved one of a veteran, you have made sacrifices and served your country. Now, it’s time to get the medical equipment and care that you deserve. If you find yourself needing a hospital bed and cannot afford one (like most people), then you should have one in your home free of charge. If you follow the instructions above, you may get one sooner than you think. Then you can focus on healing and getting the care you need.