Your body needs oxygen to live. You may find it difficult to breathe if you have serious illnesses, such as asthma, heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and other lung diseases.
If you think that you’ll be needing an oxygen device at home but haven’t received a prescription from your doctor yet, you may be wondering how much it will cost you without insurance.
How Much Does Home Oxygen Cost Without Insurance?
Your doctor may prescribe oxygen therapy if you have medical conditions that require you to get extra oxygen so you can breathe properly. These conditions include asthma, chronic bronchitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and emphysema.
There are many ways to get oxygen and the best equipment for you will depend on various factors, such as your lifestyle and how much oxygen you need.
You may use a standard oxygen concentrator, which is a machine that runs on either batteries or electricity. This equipment uses regular air and takes out other gases from it to produce oxygen.
New home oxygen concentrators cost between $595 and $2,000 while used ones range from $395 to $1,500.
If you don’t want to buy one, either used or brand new, you can rent a portable oxygen concentrator, which costs around $35 per day or $250 per week.
The upside to this is that you’ll only need the oxygen concentrator, and will not need additional equipment such as oxygen tanks.
Another option is an oxygen tank. You can choose between a liquid oxygen tank (LOX) or a compressed oxygen gas tank.
In a liquid oxygen tank, oxygen becomes liquid at lower temperatures. When liquid oxygen comes out of the tank, it converts into gas so you can breathe it in. This requires refilling every few weeks.
Meanwhile, a compressed oxygen gas tank compresses oxygen using high pressure in a tank that’s usually heavy and immovable. The oxygen it provides may last for a few days. It’s also available in smaller portable cylinders but they only last for a shorter period.
Leasing the tank itself may cost between $20 and $50 per month. On top of that, you have to add around $10 to $35 for swapping or refilling oxygen tanks, depending on their capacity, from a local medical supplier.
Your oxygen mask plugs straight into the oxygen tank so you won’t need other equipment to use the oxygen tank.
Home Oxygen Service
You may also subscribe to a service that includes delivery and maintenance of the oxygen equipment, as well as ongoing support such as refills and emergency services for the equipment.
The average cost of a home oxygen service without insurance is between $150 and $275 per month.
If you have insurance coverage, your insurer will cover home oxygen under your policy if it’s deemed as medically necessary and has been prescribed by your doctor.
Cost of Oxygen Without Insurance
|New home oxygen concentrators
|$595 and $2,000 one time
|Used home oxygen concentrators
|$395 to $1,500 one time
|Rental home oxygen concentrators
|$35 per day to $250 per week
|$20 and $50 per month
|Swapping or refilling oxygen tanks
|$10 to $35 per tank
|Home oxygen service
|$150 and $275 per month
Types of Oxygen Concentrators and their costs
If you expect to be on oxygen therapy for the long term, it might make sense for you to purchase an oxygen concentrator.
While the upfront costs are higher than renting or using oxygen tanks, it works out cheaper over the long term.
There are different types of oxygen concentrators though, and we’ll talk about their costs below.
Stationary Oxygen Devices
Stationary devices, which weigh more than 50 lbs, are perfect for home use. It can be moved from one room to another and provide oxygen at a continuous and steady rate.
Stationary oxygen concentrators are ideal for those who are always at home and use the device when sleeping.
As previously mentioned, the price of a stationary oxygen concentrator depends on its capacity.
For example, a 5L Stationary oxygen concentrator will cost anywhere between $500 and $800. Meanwhile, a 10L Stationary Oxygen Concentrator costs around $1,300 to $1,500.
Portable Oxygen Concentrator
Portable oxygen concentrators use pulse dose technology. Unlike stationary oxygen devices, which provide a continuous flow of oxygen, portable ones deliver oxygen based on your breath.
Through pulse technology, the portable device can sense whenever you inhale and exhale. It releases oxygen when you inhale.
Portable oxygen devices have smaller hardware, making them ideal for people who often go out of the house.
The average cost of a portable oxygen concentrator is between $2,300 and $3,500.
For example, an Inogen One G4 device with a lifetime warranty will cost you $3,495 while the cost of a portable concentrator from a competitor stands at $2,495.
Oxygen Tank Sizes and their Costs
Oxygen tanks, also known as oxygen cylinders, vary in price according to their size. Here will give you the lowdown on the sizes available and how much it costs.
Oxygen cylinders are excellent options for people who need long-term oxygen therapy. They provide supplemental oxygen to improve the level of oxygen in your blood and entire body. They are portable, which means you can have your supplemental oxygen wherever you go. They come in different sizes, too.
There are two ways to differentiate their sizes. The first one uses an alphabetical system. The letter A is used to identify the smallest size, while the letter E is given to the biggest portable oxygen cylinder size.
The other naming system uses the letter M, which stands for medical, and followed by a number that represents the cubic feet of oxygen the cylinder contains.
The optimal size of the oxygen cylinder you need will depend on your lifestyle and your doctor’s prescribed flow rate.
The price for one 300CF (cubic feet) compressed oxygen cylinder ranges between $12 and $85. If you need multiple tanks delivered to you regularly, you may get a price as low as $12 per cylinder for a one-year contract.
Meanwhile, if you only need a single drop-in refill, the price of an oxygen cylinder may reach up to $85.
An e-cylinder with a 679-liter capacity may cost you $2,078 a year, which includes the upfront cost, oxygen refill cost, and tank replacements.
Oxygen cans are an option for recreational oxygen therapy, which increases your breathable oxygen intake from 21% to 40% temporarily. They can be used by people who want to feel more energized, reduce their stress levels, or for athletes who need supplemental oxygen.
Oxygen cans cost less than $50 per unit. It’s a cheap option compared to oxygen cylinders especially if you don’t need to use it regularly.
But for long-term therapy that involves everyday use, you’ll have to pay $1,160 per day or spend a massive $426,000 per year if you rely on oxygen cans.
Obviously this would not be a reasonable option for most people who require oxygen therapy.
Does Your Insurance Cover Oxygen?
Most insurance plans cover supplemental oxygen if it’s considered medically necessary.
The medical necessity will be based on the arterial blood gas measurements or the arterial blood gas.
You may qualify for supplemental oxygen if you meet certain requirements.
For example, if your O2 saturation is below 89% or your arterial blood gas is below 60 mm Hg, you may qualify for supplemental oxygen.
Will Medicare Pay For Your Home Oxygen Therapy?
Medicare covers home oxygen therapy under Part B, which includes home therapies and outpatient care. However, you need to meet some requirements before they can be covered.
The basic requirements for insurance coverage include the following:
- You must be enrolled in Medicare Part B.
- The need for oxygen should be a medical necessity like for people who have serious conditions, such as COPD and heart failure.
- You must have a doctor’s prescription for home oxygen therapy.
- You must have all medical documents that support an applicable medical condition.
- You must present all test results that confirm the need for home oxygen therapy.
What Are the Out-Of-Pocket Costs For Home Oxygen Therapy with Medicare Coverage?
If your condition meets the criteria set above, the next thing you need to do before Medicare covers your home oxygen therapy is to pay your Medicare Part B deductible.
It’s the out-of-pocket costs you need to pay before Medicare covers the eligible health-related products and services.
Your Part B deductible costs around $203. Don’t forget that you also have to pay your monthly premium for Medicare, which is about $148.50 or higher depending on your income.
Once you’ve fulfilled your Part B deductible, Medicare will cover 80% of the rental equipment, also referred to as durable medical equipment (DME), for your home oxygen therapy. You’ll be responsible for paying the remaining 20% of the DME cost.
The DME that Medicare covers for your home oxygen therapy include the following:
- Systems or equipment that provides oxygen
- Containers where oxygen is stored
- Oxygen accessories such as the reservoir tubing, nasal cannula, and oxygen masks that help in the delivery of oxygen and oxygen contents into your body
Aside from that, you can only get the DME from a supplier that’s been approved by Medicare.
If you have a plan under Medicare Advantage (Part C), you may also use it to pay for your DME costs. It offers similar coverage as Medicare Part A and Part B.
How Do You Know if You Need Home Oxygen?
The normal blood oxygen level is at least 95%. You may need home oxygen if your level is lower than 88%.
Your doctor will tell you if you need one. Some prescribe home oxygen therapy when patients sleep or exercise and their oxygen level is 88% or less.
How Much Oxygen Do You Need?
Factors such as flow rate, weight, and volume need to be considered to quantify oxygen.
Your doctor will determine how much oxygen you need per minute and when you need to get supplemental oxygen after they check your usual oxygen levels.
They may use a blood gas test or a pulse oximeter, which is a device that’s attached to your earlobe, toe, or finger.
The number of oxygen tanks cylinders you’ll need per day, per month, or per year varies from one patient to another.
What Are the Types of Oxygen?
The cost of oxygen also depends on the type that you need.
A permanent, on-site liquid oxygen or LOX tank is a good option if you need to use a large amount of oxygen regularly.
You need to sign a contract with a provider at least once a year if you prefer to have this option.
You may be charged up to $20,000 for the oxygen tank, other equipment, and the installation fee. Aside from that, you also need to pay for the LOX itself, delivery charge, and other associated costs.
Delivered tanks come with a fee and it depends on how far you’re located from the company where you ordered the oxygen tank.
You have to schedule delivery ahead of time or you can also pay for expedited service.
You need to pay a rental fee, which varies between providers if you don’t have an oxygen tank.
You also have to expect price increases and possibly a denied service if the provider believes your tank is unsafe.
There’s also the issue of weather. You’ll struggle to find a company that will deliver oxygen tanks to your home during bad weather.
Generated oxygen, as its name suggests, allows you to make your own oxygen, using a High Volume Oxygen (HVO) system. This innovative oxygen-generating equipment is safer, easier to use, and more affordable.
It only costs between 7-10 cents per kilogram, depending on the scale. How much oxygen you’ll need will depend on your medical condition and the prescription of your doctor.
HVO systems are a cheaper option compared to liquid or compressed tanks because there’s no need for ordering, delivery, and logistics of getting liquid or compressed tanks.
What’s the Difference Between Renting and Owning Oxygen Concentrators?
Renting an oxygen concentrator is a better option if you can’t afford the up-front costs associated with purchasing your own equipment.
It’s also ideal if you don’t want to deal with the regular maintenance that an oxygen concentrator requires.
How will you know if buying an oxygen concentrator makes more sense than renting one? Determine the number of units you’re renting and your daily rental rates.
Compare the figure to the cost of buying your own oxygen concentrator and its accessories. Don’t forget to factor in the life expectancy of the machine.
Most oxygen concentrators last for 3 years. So divide the upfront cost of purchasing the equipment by its expected lifespan.
This will give you an idea if it’s worth buying one or if renting makes a lot more sense.
Let’s say if you purchase a portable oxygen concentrator that’s worth $3,500. The cost of the equipment will be $1,667 per year for three years (general life expectancy of an oxygen concentrator).
Now, if you rent an oxygen concentrator, which may cost up to $250 per week, you’ll have to pay $13,000 per year or $39,000 for three years.
If you need to undergo home oxygen therapy for several years, then purchasing a portable oxygen concentrator is a sensible option than renting one. But if you need only for the short period, then renting one is better.
If the price of owning an oxygen concentrator is less than the total amount of your rental fees, then you have to consider buying your own equipment instead.
Keep in mind that renting an oxygen concentrator means you won’t be using a new one. A used unit may be delivered to your door.
If the equipment is already nearing its life expectancy, then it will be prone to issues like equipment failure.
Meanwhile, buying an oxygen concentrator means you’ll get a piece of brand new equipment. But you’ll also be responsible for its repairs and maintenance, which may cost up to $1,361 for the entire lifespan of the equipment.
Oxygen is essential to your survival, especially if you have serious health issues. You need to take note of how much oxygen will cost you with or without insurance. As expected, oxygen concentrators are more expensive without insurance.
But if you have Medicare, it will cover 80% of the costs, provided that you’ve met the basic requirements and you’ve fulfilled your deductible.
Keep in mind that you still have to shell out some cash even if you’re covered and that’s around 20% of the equipment costs for your home oxygen therapy.