How to Become a DME Supplier

Table of Contents

What is a DME Supplier?

Step 1: Obtain a National Provider Identification (NPI) number

Step 2: Obtain accreditation from a CMS-approved organization

Step 3: Enroll in the Medicare program

Step 4: Purchase a DMEPOS surety bond

DME vs. DMEPOS Supplier

What is a DME Supplier?

A DME (Durable Medical Equipment) supplier is a business or organization that provides medical equipment and supplies for individuals with medical conditions or disabilities. DME suppliers offer a wide range of products that help patients with mobility, daily living, and various medical needs. These products are designed to withstand repeated use and typically have three years or more helpful life.

Common examples of durable medical equipment provided by DME suppliers include:

  • Wheelchairs and mobility scooters
  • Crutches and canes
  • Hospital beds and mattresses
  • Oxygen equipment and respiratory devices
  • Prosthetic limbs and orthotic devices
  • Walkers and rollators
  • Blood glucose monitors and test strips
  • Nebulizers and inhalers
  • Home infusion equipment
  • Braces and supports

DME suppliers may operate as standalone businesses or larger healthcare organizations, such as hospitals or medical supply companies. They work closely with healthcare providers, such as doctors and therapists, to ensure patients receive the appropriate equipment and supplies for their medical needs.

DME suppliers must adhere to regulatory standards and guidelines to ensure the safety and quality of their equipment. In the United States, for example, Medicare and Medicaid have specific requirements that DME suppliers must meet to be eligible for reimbursement for their products and services.

Step 1: Obtain a National Provider Identification (NPI) number

The first step to becoming a DME supplier is to obtain your National Provider Identification (NPI) number.

A National Provider Identifier (NPI) is a unique 10-digit identification number used in the United States to identify healthcare providers in transactions with healthcare insurers, such as Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurance companies. 

Below is a list of organizations that require an NPI number:

  • Ambulance Companies 
  • Clinics 
  • Group Practices 
  • Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs) 
  • Home Health Agencies (HHAs) 
  • Hospitals 
  • Laboratories 
  • Nursing Homes 
  • Pharmacies 
  • Residential Treatment Centers 
  • Suppliers of Durable Medical Equipment (DME)

How to Get an NPI Number

First, you must choose what entity type you are:

  1. A National Provider Identifier (NPI) of Entity Type 1 is assigned to healthcare professionals who provide direct patient care or services.
  1. A National Provider Identifier (NPI) of Entity Type 2 is assigned to healthcare organizations or entities rather than individual healthcare providers. Entity Type 2 NPIs identify healthcare facilities, groups, and organizations that provide healthcare services. DME suppliers would fall under the type 2 category.

Second, you must choose how to apply for an NPI number. You have three choices:

  1. Apply through the National Plan and Provider Enumeration System (NPPES)’s official site
  2. Complete and submit a paper application through the Centre for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Email or call 800-465-3203 to receive your application form.
  3. File it through a third party that is an EFIO-approved organization by the CMS. An EFIO-approved organization is one that the CMS has approved to file applications on behalf of others.

Of the three options, we recommend you apply online since it’s the easiest. 

Step 2: Obtain accreditation from a CMS-approved organization

The second step is to obtain accreditation from a CMS-approved organization. Accreditation from a CMS (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services)-approved organization is the formal recognition and certification of a healthcare provider, facility, or organization's compliance with CMS standards and regulations. CMS is the federal agency responsible for administering the Medicare and Medicaid programs in the United States. It sets requirements and quality standards for healthcare providers who wish to participate in these government-funded healthcare programs. 

You must contact a CMS-approved Accreditation Organization (AO) to obtain your accreditation. You'll then embark on the pre-application phase, collaborating closely with the AO to make necessary adjustments to your practices and ensure they align with CMS standards.

You will also need to submit numerous documents to the AO. The AO typically dedicates four to six months to review these materials. They will also conduct a surprise business site visit to evaluate your compliance with CMS standards. Once the AO determines that your practice meets the accreditation requirements, they will submit your information to the National Supplier Clearinghouse (NSC).

Accredited healthcare providers are required to maintain ongoing compliance with CMS standards. This includes periodic surveys or reaccreditation reviews conducted by the AO and ongoing monitoring and self-assessment to ensure continued compliance.

Step 3: Enroll in the Medicare program

The next step is to enroll in the Medicare program. To enroll, you must complete the application on the PECOS online system. You must create an account with this system. Once you've logged in, you can find your Medicare enrollment application. You can check the status of your application with your Medicare Administrative Contractor (MAC). You can find your designated MAC on the Medicare enrollment contact list. 

Step 4: Purchase a DMEPOS surety bond

The last step is to purchase a DMEPOS surety bond. The DMEPOS (Durable Medical Equipment, Prosthetics, Orthotics, and Supplies) bond is a financial guarantee required by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) in the United States. It is explicitly mandated for certain healthcare providers and suppliers who participate in the Medicare program and furnish DMEPOS items to Medicare beneficiaries. The purpose of the DMEPOS bond is to protect the Medicare program and its beneficiaries from fraud and financial losses due to non-compliance or improper billing practices by DMEPOS suppliers.

We’ve helped many medical suppliers get their DMEPOS bond. Our process takes three minutes. We reply within the hour if it's during work hours. 

Need help with your surety bond?
Call 1 (888) 236-8589 to talk to one of our surety experts today.
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DME vs. DMEPOS Supplier

"DME" and "DMEPOS" are related terms in the context of healthcare providers and suppliers, mainly when dealing with Medicare and Medicaid programs in the United States. However, they have distinct meanings:

DME stands for "Durable Medical Equipment." DME is a category of healthcare equipment and supplies designed for long-term use to assist patients with specific medical conditions or disabilities. These items are intended to withstand repeated use. Healthcare providers typically prescribe them to improve a patient's quality of life or aid in their medical treatment. Examples of DME include wheelchairs, hospital beds, oxygen equipment, crutches, and mobility aids.

DMEPOS expands upon the concept of DME. It includes not only durable medical equipment (DME) but also prosthetic devices, orthotic devices, and certain medical supplies. The term encompasses a broader range of healthcare products and services. DMEPOS items include artificial limbs (prosthetics), custom-fitted braces (orthotics), and medical supplies such as diabetic testing strips and catheters.

In the context of Medicare and Medicaid in the United States, both DME and DMEPOS suppliers provide these types of equipment, devices, and supplies to eligible beneficiaries. These suppliers must meet specific regulatory requirements, including obtaining the necessary licenses, adhering to quality standards, and, in some cases, obtaining a DMEPOS surety bond (as mentioned in a previous response) to participate in the Medicare program.

In summary, "DME" refers to durable medical equipment. At the same time, "DMEPOS" encompasses a broader category that includes prosthetics, orthotics, specific medical supplies, and durable medical equipment. Both suppliers are crucial in providing necessary healthcare products to patients and ensuring compliance with federal and state regulations when participating in government healthcare programs.