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What to Do if a Patient Doesn’t Pick Up Their DME Product?

Question:

If a DME product was fabricated and paid by the carrier, but the patient does not come to pick it up despite proper scheduling, what is the responsibility of the podiatrist?

Answer:

Medicare Benefit Policy Manual
Chapter 15 – Covered Medical and Other Health Services

Publication 100-02, Chapter 15, Section 20.3

20.3 – Artificial Limbs, Braces, and Other Custom Made Items Ordered But Not Furnished
(Rev. 1, 10-01-03)
B3-2005.3

A. Date of Incurred Expense
If a custom-made item was ordered but not furnished to a beneficiary because the individual died or because the order was canceled by the beneficiary or because the beneficiary’s condition changed and the item was no longer reasonable and necessary or appropriate, payment can be made based on the supplier’s expenses. (See subsection B for determination of the allowed amount.) In such cases, the expense is considered incurred on the date the beneficiary died or the date the supplier learned of the cancellation or that the item was no longer reasonable and necessary or appropriate for the beneficiary’s condition. If the beneficiary died or the beneficiary’s condition changed and the item was no longer reasonable and necessary or appropriate, payment can be made on either an assigned or unassigned claim. If the beneficiary, for any other reason, canceled the order, payment can be made to the supplier only.

B. Determination of Allowed Amount
The allowed amount is based on the services furnished and materials used, up to the date the supplier learned of the beneficiary’s death or of the cancellation of the order or that the item was no longer reasonable and necessary or appropriate. The Durable Medical Equipment Regional Carrier (DMERC), carrier or intermediary, as appropriate, determines the services performed and the allowable amount appropriate in the particular situation. It takes into account any salvage value of the device to the supplier.

Where a supplier breaches an agreement to make a prosthesis, brace, or other custom-made device for a Medicare beneficiary, e.g., an unexcused failure to provide the article within the time specified in the contract, payment may not be made for any work or material expended on the item. Whether a particular supplier has lived up to its agreement, of course, depends on the facts in the individual case.

There are slight variations in the procedure of each DME carrier and the provider has to call and find out and follow those, but for the most part they are similar to what is outlined below.

According to National Government Services, one of four Medicare DME MACs:

1) Submit a claim with the FULL billing amount you usually bill.
a. Date of Service should be Date of Refusal or Date of Death
2) Include in the narrative section a brief explanation of the situation. Mention that the item ‘has no salvage value and is a complete loss’.
3) After receipt of claim, they may ask for more information such as a receipt of the purchase of the item, explanation of your other related costs such as staff time, your own time, etc. It is their discretion depending on many factors such as How often you have claims such as this, the total amount involved, and other DME history of patient and provider.
4) Based on all this, the carrier will pay whatever they feel is appropriate, even up to the full amount billed or….nothing at all!
5) This decision can be appealed up to the various levels following usual procedures