Whether you’re recovering from an injury or you’re coming into the golden years of your life, there can be times when using a regular bed can be a challenge.
You may have difficulty getting to your feet in the morning or your bed may not be comfortable for sleep anymore.
In these cases, having a home hospital bed can be a huge help. If you’re looking at getting a hospital bed for your home, you have two options: buying the bed or using a hospital bed rental.
Hospital bed rentals can seem like a good idea at first, but there are a lot of factors you need to consider. Read on to learn more about rental concerns and what you really need to know about your hospital bed.
Should You Get a Hospital Bed?
Before we dive into whether you should get a hospital bed, let’s take a look at what makes them special.
These beds have height-adjustable heads and feet and may often come with rails that can be raised and lowered. They are designed to help the elderly, infirm, or disabled patients get in and out of bed safely.
If you or a loved one have reached a point in your life where getting in and out of bed is a problem, having a hospital bed can be a great help.
You may have trouble sitting up to get out of bed or you may have a partner who you can no longer lift to their feet. Balance issues can also pose a risk of falls when you’re getting out of bed, an injury that causes the deaths of more than 645,000 people each year.
Hospital beds can also be a huge help for people who are bedridden. Laying in a regular bed all day every day can cause a host of problems, not the least of which are pressure wounds and decreased circulation. But the patient’s mental state may suffer as well since lying flat on your back makes it hard to do much at all.
Some hospital beds can also be helpful in treating certain conditions or injuries. We’ll get into specifics more in a moment, but there are special beds designed to help severe burn victims or patients with spinal injuries. These beds help keep them more comfortable and make caring for them much easier.
Ten Things You Should Know Before Getting Hospital Bed Rentals
Most modern hospital beds are electric beds. The bed can be controlled by a remote with various buttons to raise and lower the head and foot of the bed, as well as the level of the entire bed itself. This can be helpful for caregivers or patients who may need help getting the patient into an upright position.
Gatch beds are the old-school cousin of electric beds, with everything on the bed being controlled by hand cranks. These are located at the foot of the bed and can be dropped under the bed frame when not in use to avoid any smacked shins. These beds require a caretaker who can bend down to use the cranks and the patient has no control over their bed position.
Low beds are ideal for patients who may be prone to fall out of bed even with side rails, such as in the case of seizure patients or sleepwalkers. They usually sit no more than two feet off the floor and they often do not come with an option to raise or lower the entire bed.
People using this bed will need to be able to stand up from a low position on the floor or will need a caregiver who can help them do so.
Low air loss beds are somewhat similar to an air mattress, with special inflated sacs throughout the mattress. They help to relieve some of the pressure of a person’s body weight pressing into a bed, which can be important in preventing ulcers and bedsores. They can also be good for burn victims or skin graft patients whose skin needs a more gentle touch.
Circo electric beds are used for patients with severe burns or spinal injuries who cannot be moved in the usual ways. These beds allow you to reposition and turn the patient to keep their lungs and circulatory system working properly. If you or your loved one has such an injury, there are few substitutes for this type of hospital bed.
Clinitron beds are a higher-tech model of the low air loss beds. Instead of being filled with air, these beds are filled with a sand-like material through which warm air gets pumped. This maintains a constant temperature in the bed and helps relieve any developing pressure wounds.
Hospital Bed Rentals vs Purchase
If you’ve decided that you do need a hospital bed, you have a couple of options as to how to get one. You can, of course, buy a hospital bed; your insurance may cover some of the purchase and you can get help from your doctor in buying one. You can also rent a hospital bed if you don’t want to or can’t afford to buy one outright.
One of the most important questions you’ll need to ask when you’re deciding whether to rent or buy a hospital bed is how long you’ll need it.
If you’ll only need the bed for a few weeks or months while a patient recovers from an injury, renting may be cheaper. This option can also work well for people who want to end their lives in their own homes and need medical support to do so.
But if you’re planning to have the hospital bed for several months or even years, the cost of renting will quickly start to catch up to you. There are also several more issues you’ll run into with hospital bed rentals that become more drastic over the long term.
Hotel beds have proved to us time and again that sharing a bed with a stranger can mean crossing paths with some questionable substances. In hotel rooms, the worst of these substances tend to be unmentionable bodily fluids. But in the case of a hospital bed rental, you could run into more serious pathogens.
The truth of the matter is that rented hospital beds have held sick people before and germs can stick around for a long time. MRSA can survive for weeks outside of the body and will live longer on hard surfaces than on soft. C. difficile can survive on a hard surface for five months and can be life-threatening, especially for people who are over 65, are on antibiotics, and/or have a severe underlying medical disorder.
It is all but impossible to clean every single surface germs can lurk on in a hospital bed. And if you have someone who is immunocompromised as a result of their illness, these bugs can present an enormous threat.
Another downside to renting a used hospital bed is that it will be, well, used. Things break down with wear and tear and you can bet the bed will have seen plenty of that already. In electric beds, in particular, you may see things like remotes that don’t work, parts that get stuck, and wires that need replacing.
If you’re renting the bed, the rental company may pay for those repairs, but in the meantime, the bed will be out of commission. Not to mention that the patient may have to get out of the bed while it’s being repaired, which can be a huge problem in some cases. With a new bed, you’ll know you’re getting top quality, and there may be a warranty period to boot.
Like with rental homes and cars, hospital bed rentals come with a variety of regulations you as the user will have to follow.
You won’t be able to modify the bed in any way, and any damage to the bed can cost you big-time. If you have pets in the home, this can cause additional worry and the bed will never feel like a truly comforting place the way a bed should.
But if you buy a bed, it’s yours to do with as you please. If your granddaughter comes over and wants to sign the bed rails in Sharpie, she can do so and you’ll get a smile every time you see it. Having pets around isn’t a worry and you can make the bed yours in all the most important ways.
One of the uglier possibilities when it comes to hospital rental beds is that you may run into limited availability. Depending on where you’re located, rental companies in your area may only keep a few beds. They may also have a limited selection that doesn’t include the specialized sort of bed you need.
Instead of having to hope the right bed is available when you need it, you can have exactly what you want when it matters most. Settling for a gatch bed instead of an electric bed or a standard bed instead of a low bed may not seem like a big deal at first. But with something that will be so intimately involved in your life, you want to get the right tool for the job.
The biggest question for most people when it comes to buying versus renting a bed is how much it will cost. In either case, your insurance may cover it and we’ll talk about that more in a moment. But for now, let’s take a straight look at how much each option will cost.
On average, it costs between $200 and $500 a month for a hospital bed rental. Let’s split the difference and say you’re paying $350 a month for your bed; in six months, you’ll spend $2,100 on your rental. And that’s before any fees, repair costs, or additional costs associated with the rental.
Buying a hospital bed outright costs anywhere between $500 and $10,000 depending on how specialized a model you need. But standard electric hospital beds, the most common model, cost around $2,000. So for just six months of a hospital bed rental, you could own the same bed.
If you’re planning on having the bed in your home for many years to come, buying the bed upfront can save you thousands. And even if you only use it for the six months it would take for the rental costs to equal the buying price, at the end of that time, you’ll own the bed.
From there, you can sell it to recoup some of your money or keep it in case of future need.
Look at Insurance
Luckily, in many cases, patients do not have to pay for their own hospital beds whether they’re renting or buying.
It is important to note that every policy is different and what your insurance covers may vary. You should talk to your insurance company to get more information about their policies regarding home hospital beds.
In general, Medicare plans will pay for 80 percent of the purchase price of a hospital bed. For a standard bed, this means you will have to pay only $400 and the bed is yours. Medicare can also provide financial assistance for hospital bed rentals, and under the current policy, after thirteen months of renting, you will own the bed.
Get a Referral
If you’re having trouble getting insurance to cover your hospital bed costs, or if you’re having trouble finding a company in the first place, talk to your doctor.
They can write you a prescription for a home hospital bed that should help you get insurance to cover it. And they may also be able to recommend reputable companies in your area that you can use.
Having a home hospital bed can make a huge difference during a recovery period or in the twilight years of your life. And while hospital bed rental may seem like a good option on the surface, in reality, it can cost you a lot of money and quality of life. Buying a hospital bed can be a much better long-term solution to your health care needs.
This top-ranked site now has over 4,000 pages of humor, nostalgia, senior advocacy and useful information for seniors 50+. Updates weekly!
The daily e-zine for everyone over 50 who feels way too young to be old.
"...the perfect mix of Andy Rooney, Dave Barry, and Garrison Keilor, combining knee-slapping humor with useful information and genuine compassion."Retired.com
"Thousands look to and trust Suddenly Senior. Other Websites pale in comparison to the real-life, intimate look into senior lives. What sets apart Suddenly Senior is its blistering honesty and its incomparable encouragement. Millions need guidance."Suzette Martinez Standring
"Best Senior Site ever on the Web! Great, up-to-date information on how seniors can save money on drugs. Wonderful nostalgia. Hard-hitting senior advocacy pieces that get read in high places. Wonderful humor. It's all at Suddenly Senior."Alexa.com