Oxygen Therapy is used to increase blood oxygen levels for diseases that impair or restrict the lung's ability to absorb oxygen. To determine need and benefit, doctors will most commonly use a pulse oximeter to measure oxygen levels. Medicare may cover Oxygen Therapy when pulse oximetry tests meet the following criteria:
- Room air at rest is at or below 88%
- Room air with exercise is at or below 88%
- And documented improvement with oxygen
Medicare covers Oxygen Therapy for chronic conditions. All acute conditions, such as pneumonia, must be resolved before qualifying tests may be conducted and coverage determined. If tests are conducted with an acute illness, coverage will be denied.
What options exist?
Oxygen Therapy comes in a variety of forms, the most common are Oxygen Concentrators, Gas (Cylinders), and Portable Oxygen Concentrators.
Oxygen Concentrators are devices that take oxygen from the room, concentrate it for therapeutic use, and remove other naturally occurring gases. The benefits of concentrators are that they are less expensive and don’t require filling like tanks. Portable versions are available. However, most models are too large to be truly portable.
Oxygen Gas (cylinders) is compressed gas stored in a portable tank. Gas systems are used for portability and emergency back up. Tanks come in a variety of sizes. Oxygen Conserving Devices can be used in conjunction with tanks to extend the oxygen supply.
Filling stations or more commonly known as Homefill Systems, provide greater flexibility and portability for Oxygen tanks. These units allow tanks to be refilled in the home as needed.
Portable Oxygen Concentrators (POC) are smaller versions of Oxygen Concentrators that may have battery-powered capabilities. POC's range in size and features. Due to size, some POC's may not generate enough oxygen for therapeutic use.