Original Medicare Part B covers oxygen and equipment for use at home, though certain conditions apply. Part A covers oxygen therapy during an inpatient stay.

A person may need oxygen therapy if they have a lung disorder such as severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a heart problem, or asthma.

This article looks at Medicare’s coverage of oxygen equipment, supplies, and therapy. It also discusses the types of equipment and supplies covered, eligibility and costs, and alternative therapies.

Glossary of Medicare terms

We may use a few terms in this piece that can be helpful to understand when selecting the best insurance plan:

  • Deductible: This is an annual amount that a person must spend out of pocket within a certain time period before an insurer starts to fund their treatments.
  • Coinsurance: This is a percentage of a treatment cost that a person will need to self-fund. For Medicare Part B, this comes to 20%.
  • Copayment: This is a fixed dollar amount that an insured person pays when receiving certain treatments. For Medicare, this usually applies to prescription drugs.
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If someone has Original Medicare, Part B covers the cost of outpatient health needs, such as durable medical equipment (DME), that a doctor deems medically necessary. Medicare includes oxygen equipment and accessories in the DME classification.

Part B covers the rental of DME for people to use within their home. However, a person’s doctor and the DME supplier both need to be enrolled in Medicare and accept the assignment.

If someone stays in a hospital as an inpatient and needs oxygen therapy, Medicare Part A covers this cost.

Medicare Advantage (Part C) plans have to offer the same health coverage as Original Medicare (parts A and B), including oxygen therapy.

Doctors can prescribe different types of oxygen therapy, which a person may receive at home or in a hospital.

These include:

Home oxygen therapy

When a person needs oxygen therapy in their home, Medicare covers the rental of the following equipment:

  • systems to provide oxygen
  • containers to store oxygen
  • tubing and accessories to deliver the oxygen

If the oxygen machine works with a humidifier, Medicare may also cover this equipment.

A DME company supplies the oxygen equipment for 36 months. The supplier makes sure that the equipment and accessories are in working order, which may include repairs, servicing, and maintenance. The monthly payments include these services.

If a person still needs the equipment after 36 months, the supplier will continue to provide the supplies for another 24 months.

After these 5 years, the supplier will have completed their contract. People can find a new supplier or continue with the original supplier if both parties are happy to do so.

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy

In HBOT, the person uses a special oxygen chamber to expose the whole body to oxygen with increased atmospheric pressure. This therapy takes place in a hospital or specialized clinic.

Medicare may cover HBOT for several conditions, such as:

Portable oxygen concentrators

If someone wants a portable oxygen concentrator, they will need to purchase the equipment.

Oxygen concentrators are small, mobile devices that deliver oxygen through pulse dosage. This delivery system means that the person receives only the oxygen that they need, avoiding waste.

Medicare pays monthly for stationary oxygen equipment, including concentrators and stationary gaseous and liquid equipment. However, to get a portable oxygen concentrator or tank and a machine that can fill a portable tank in the home, a person will need to make an add-on payment.

Learn more about oxygen therapy.

The person who needs oxygen therapy must have Medicare insurance and meet each of these conditions:

  • A doctor has diagnosed a severe lung condition that prevents the person from getting enough oxygen.
  • The person’s health might improve with oxygen therapy.
  • Their arterial blood gas level falls within a specific range.
  • They have tried other measures, but their health has not improved.

If someone is eligible and needs oxygen therapy as an outpatient, their doctor can arrange the supply of home oxygen therapy from a Medicare-approved DME provider. This Medicare search tool can help a person find a DME provider in their area.

Medicare does not pay all the costs of oxygen therapy. For example:

  • An individual with Original Medicare must pay an annual Part B deductible, which is $240 in 2024. They will also have to pay 20% of the Medicare-approved amount for HBOT or home oxygen therapy.
  • There is a 36-month limit for Medicare payments for oxygen equipment rental. After that time, a person will pay 20% of the Medicare-approved amount if they use equipment that requires the delivery of gaseous or liquid oxygen contents.
  • A person must also pay 20% of the Medicare-approved amount for a rented or purchased humidifier, as long as they use it with a respiratory assist device or a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) device.

For individuals with a Medicare Advantage (Part C) plan, the costs of coverage may vary. People should contact their plan provider to find the coverage guidelines for oxygen therapy.

Equipment rental vs. owning

Medicare covers 80% of the costs of oxygen equipment rental after a person has met the yearly deductible.

If someone wishes to purchase a portable oxygen concentrator, Medicare will help pay for the supplies that the person needs to use alongside the machine. The cost may be either a flat monthly rate or based on use.

The price of a new home oxygen concentrator depends on several factors and ranges from $595 to $2,000.

Some DME companies allow people to finance a new portable oxygen concentrator with monthly payments. Individuals must decide which is more cost effective for them: buying the oxygen therapy equipment or paying the 20% copayment to Medicare and renting the equipment.

How much oxygen costs may depend on factors such as:

  • the type of oxygen therapy
  • what equipment a person requires
  • whether a person receives oxygen in the hospital or at home
  • whether a person is renting or purchasing DME

A person can ask their doctor about the type of oxygen therapy they recommend and its costs.

Typically, Medicare covers oxygen and equipment for use at home, as well as oxygen therapy during an inpatient stay.

Certain conditions apply, and a person will need to cover some costs out of pocket. A doctor must certify that the oxygen therapy is medically necessary in order for Medicare to cover it.