Published – 7/15/2022
Reviewed By: Seana Kenefick

Your needs are likely to increase with age, especially the need for medical supplies. Durable medical equipment (DME) is any kind of device or appliance that has an exclusive medical purpose, like wheelchairs or orthopedic devices. This equipment may help you live with or recover from an illness, improve your mobility or keep you safer at home by reducing the risk of a fall.

Brand new durable medical equipment can be expensive. The average cost of a wheelchair, without all the bells and whistles, for example, can run up to $500 for most consumers. Other types of durable equipment can be similarly expensive, and if you need more than one device at a time, you could easily be overwhelmed by costs.

In this guide, you’ll get familiar with how medical equipment banks can be a great resource for helping you or your loved one find the DME items needed quickly and at a discounted price. It also includes approximate prices for various items and where in your state durable medical supplies can be lent or sold at a reduced price while waiting for insurance approval.

Medical Equipment Banks Close the Gap

Medicare and Medicaid can often help with the cost of DME expenses, but the process is slow, and you need a prescription from a doctor for every piece your coverage will pay for. Medicare and Medicaid also impose requirements for what can be covered. For example, the DME these programs can cover has to be deemed medically necessary for you. Prescribed DME must also be used in your home or on your body, as a shower chair or back brace would be. These rules can limit what kind of DME you can get and how much you wind up paying. 

Medicare pays for durable medical equipment through Part B, the outpatient benefit offered under Original Medicare. Medicare Advantage beneficiaries have these benefits folded into their unified coverage plan. State Medicaid programs also pay some or all of the cost for necessary medical supplies, though you may have to pay a portion of the cost before your coverage kicks in.

Fortunately, you have options that can help you get around the limitations of Medicare and Medicaid coverage. Medical equipment banks are like lending libraries for durable medical equipment. People who no longer require their DME can donate their used equipment to a local bank, which will inspect, sterilize and clean it before redistributing it to someone in need who meets the program’s eligibility rules.

When you’re done using the DME, either because you’ve recovered to the point you don’t need it or your prescribed DME has been delivered, you can return the borrowed equipment to be refurbished and offered to somebody else.

What Are Durable Medical Goods?

Unless you have experience working with it, you may not know exactly what counts as durable medical equipment. While there isn’t a single official definition of what is or isn’t DME, the term generally describes non-consumable medical supplies that have no particular use outside of their medical applications.

Some of the more common individual pieces include: 



Diabetes supplies

Blood sugar meters, compression garments, insulin pumps and medical alert bracelets

Mobility devices

Canes, crutches, patient lifts, walkers, wheelchairs and scooters 

Safety and comfort

Commode chairs, hospital beds, continuous passive motion devices and pressure-reducing support surfaces 

Medical treatment

Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machines, home infusion services, infusion pumps and supplies, nebulizers and nebulizer medications, oxygen equipment and accessories, suction pumps and traction equipment

DME is not to be mixed up with consumable medical equipment or non-durable supplies. This category includes any kind of medical items you only use once or just a few times before they have to be disposed of. Bandages, test strips, syrettes and other things you can’t use a lot or share with someone else are usually treated as consumables and not included as DME.

Likewise, durable items that are not intended exclusively for medical use are not DME. If you think a specific item would help you with safety, mobility or comfort, but you aren’t sure whether it counts as durable medical equipment, ask somebody at your doctor’s office. They can usually look up specific DME items to see what Medicare and Medicaid will cover.

Costs for Common DME Items

If the insurance you have will not cover the cost of DME, you may have no choice but to buy it yourself. Some items are affordable and relatively easy to find, while others are not. Walkers, canes and bedside commodes, for example, are generally available in every pharmacy in the country. CPAP machines and oxygen compressors are in limited distribution and can be very expensive. Below is a list of some of the most commonly used DME items, along with their typical price range for consumers who have to pay for them out of pocket.

DME Item

Approximate Price Range

Blood sugar meters 

$20 to $80 for basic units; prices for some models run from $10 to over $1,200


$15 to $20 for standard canes; $15 to $40 for foldable and quad-foot canes; $20 to $80 for canes with wheels, folding seats and other features

Commode chairs

$35 to $200

Continuous passive motion devices 

$2,000 to buy; $450 a week to rent new 

Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) devices

Basic CPAP: $250 to $1,000; Bilevel devices: $1,000 to $6,000; Automated devices: $450 to $1,800


$40 to $100 for basic crutches; up to $500 for hands-free designs

Hospital beds

$500 for manual beds; up to $10,000 for powered units

Home infusion services

$1,500 to $6,000

Infusion pumps

$2,000 to $7,000


$50 plus the cost of cleaning supplies and accessories

Oxygen equipment and accessories

$500 to $3,500 for oxygen concentrators

Patient lifts 

$400 for manual lifts; and up to $4,000 for power lifts

Pressure-reducing support surfaces

$150 to $400

Suction pumps

$150 to $200

Traction equipment

$15 to $2,700 for a range of products


$30 to $100

Wheelchairs and scooters 

$100 to $2,000, depending on make, model and features

Medicare and Medicaid may pay for some or all of the costs for DME. Your Medicare supplement or private insurance may also kick in and pay for some of the cost. Many seniors sign up for pharmacy discount programs that can take 30% to 80% off of the price of various items. Not everything is covered under these plans, however, and you are probably still going to be responsible for your share of the cost. It can also take a long time to obtain pre-approval for many of these items, causing you to be without the DME you require during the critical early stages of an illness or recovery from an injury or surgery.

What Role Do Medical Equipment Banks Play?

Gaps in the availability of DME can be a real problem for many seniors, especially if you need the equipment for safety or to manage your recovery after a stay in the hospital. That’s where medical equipment banks can be very helpful. Medical equipment banks act as a lending library for used medical equipment, taking in donated equipment from the public and lending it back out to those who need it for a short time.

In this system, a piece of DME is purchased new and used until the original buyer no longer requires it. The item, which is still in usable condition and can be efficiently refurbished, is then donated to a local nonprofit or government equipment bank to be recirculated. After the device is restored to service, it’s offered for a steeply discounted sale or a relatively short-term loan. These new consumers may be people waiting for their insurance to authorize a new device, or they may be unable to afford a new piece of DME at the time. Used DME sales operate similarly to new equipment sales, with loans typically lasting 30 to 90 days before being renewed or returned.

Is Used Medical Equipment Safe?

Given how personal the use of DME can be, it’s natural to wonder whether it’s safe to use pre-owned medical equipment. For some items, this is probably not an issue. Walkers and canes are not likely to have been used overly hard or contaminated with infectious material. Other items may seem more personal, such as a bedside commode, but there’s no reason to worry about the goods that medical equipment banks offer their consumers.

Before a used item can be sold or leased, it must be inspected by trained personnel who can certify that it is in good working order and safe to use. All pieces of DME have to get a thorough cleaning and sanitizing with germicidal agents, such as bleach, to effectively render them germ-free. This cleaning also removes dust, grime or other surface contaminants.

How to Use a Medical Equipment Bank

Medical equipment banks vary in size. Some banks are small shops that keep a few dozen or hundred items in stock for consumers, while others are state-supported agencies with tens of thousands of items in stock. Some are even referral services that function like online exchange communities to connect you with private individuals who no longer need their DME.

Cost is another area where there’s a pretty wide diversity of models. Some DME banks charge a small application or membership fee. Others charge a flat fee for equipment loaned, while others directly lend money to members so they can purchase new equipment. Still, some are organized like thrift stores, with second-hand equipment on the shelves for anyone who wants to buy it at a discount or rent it. These banks’ rental terms typically range from 30 to 90 days, and while some require that the equipment be returned at the end of the term, others make it simple to renew from home.

Who Can Get DME From an Equipment Bank?

Medical equipment banks operate in a variety of ways, and the rules for who can participate in their programs differ from one state to the next. Many DME bank programs are open to everyone in their state. Kansas’ Assistive Technology program, for example, is open to any resident of Kansas who needs access to affordable medical equipment. A similar project in the District of Columbia, however, has strict income limits that effectively close it off to residents who don’t also qualify for low-income insurance and other benefits.

You can usually call and ask about enrollment requirements if you’re wondering whether you can borrow equipment from one of your local banks. If the bank you’re looking into also operates as a secondhand store, it’s likely to be open to the public without significant restrictions. If the program is an informal peer-to-peer exchange or referral service between private lenders and borrowers, you’re likely to be welcome to join regardless of your income. 

Programs that offer discounts and free services often verify your income before you can join. If you also qualify for Medicaid in your state, you’ll most likely meet your local program’s requirements, but this isn’t always the case. Things can also get tricky if what you need is a cash loan to buy equipment for yourself. Various governments regulate lending in different ways, and it’s better to ask a program worker about your specific situation.

Where to Access Free Medical Equipment in Each State

Every state has at least one program to borrow or buy second-hand durable medical equipment. Many states operate an equipment bank with state funds, which makes these effective government programs. Others lean on private nonprofit charities, or they use these entities as supplements to the state program. Each charity has its own standards for enrollment and its own list of available services.

To know what any resource can do for you, it’s a good idea to check with the bank you’re planning to go with. If the first place you call isn’t quite what you’re looking for, don’t be afraid to ask for a referral to another local program.

Listed below is a medical equipment bank for each state. These programs can help you find the second-hand medical equipment you need, and most of them operate at no cost to you.






CARE Program

Easter Seals operates Alabama’s medical equipment bank from its headquarters location in Montgomery. Contact the program office for information about the bank location closest to your area.

(334) 288-0240


Assistive Technology of Alaska

Alaska’s program has assistive devices for daily living, helping with blindness or limited vision, hearing impairments and other limiting conditions.

(800) 723 – 2852


Arizona Assistive Technology Exchange (ATEX)

ATEX can help you get equipment to help you with communication, mobility, vehicle modifications and assistive technology.

Online only


Increasing Capabilities Access Network (ICAN)

ICAN has a large inventory of durable medical equipment available for free or at a low cost for Arkansas residents.

(800) 828-2799


AT Exchange

California’s AT Exchange lends used DME for up to 30 days. The program also offers new and used equipment for sale at discounted prices. Occasionally, the center gives away some equipment for free. Project staff can provide referrals to several of California’s dozen other access medical equipment outlets.

(800) 390-2699


Good Health Will

Good Health Will has a rapidly shifting inventory of used DME you can stop in to borrow. The program operates centers in Loveland and Greeley.

(970) 624-6002


Assistive Technology Loan Program (ATLP)

The Connecticut Tech Act Project provides loans on generous terms to help participants buy their own new or used medical equipment.

(860) 424-4881


Assistive Technology Resource Centers (ATRC)

There is no statewide agency that operates a medical equipment bank in Delaware, but each county has its own nonprofit ATRC operation. These are:

Contact the agency in your county for hours of operation and their current inventory.

(302) 856-7946

District of Columbia

Assistive Technology Program

The District of Columbia’s Assistive Technology Program has an income limit similar to the threshold for receiving public benefits. The program loans assistive devices and durable medical equipment.

(202) 547-4747


Florida Alliance for Assistive Services and Technology (FAAST)

FAAST offers device loans and technology demonstrations at locations around the state.

(844) 353-2278


Friends of Disabled Adults and Children (FODAC)

FODAC provides used medical equipment and some advanced assistive technology for participants. The program charges a one time sign-up fee of $25.

(770) 491-9014


Assistive Technology Resource Centers of Hawaii

Hawaii’s program has DME you can borrow or buy for free. You might also be able to get a low-cost loan on extended terms for up to $30,000 that can help you purchase new equipment.

(808) 532-7112


Idaho Assistive Technology Project

The Idaho Assistive Technology Project can set participants up with low-cost loans to buy DME, as well as giving out free device demonstrations.

(800) 432-8324


Illinois Assistive Technology Program

Illinois’ Assistive Technology Program gives out free used medical equipment through a project called AT Classifieds. The program can also offer low-cost loans to finance the purchase of new DME.

(800) 852-5110


Easter Seals Crossroads

Easter Seals Crossroads is a central clearinghouse for local DME lending agencies. Contact the program’s main office for a referral to your local provider.

(317) 466-2013


Easter Seals Iowa

Easter Seals Iowa has an assistive technology program and can lend you items from a large inventory of durable medical equipment.

(515) 289-1933


Assistive Technology for Kansans

Kansas’ program is open to all state residents and offers equipment loans, funding assistance and informative demonstrations.

(620) 421-8367


Kentucky Assistive Technology Services (KATS)

KATS operates an equipment lending library at five locations around the state.

(800) 327-5287


Louisiana Assistive Technology Access Network

Louisiana’s program helps you avoid investing substantial amounts of money into a device that winds up not being what you need. The program offers equipment on loan for up to 35 days. You may have to pay a nominal fee for this service.

(800) 270-6185


Spurwink AllTech

Maine residents can borrow DME from Spurwink, which also helps train users with device demonstrations.

(207) 232-6421


Maryland Technology Assistance Program

The Technology Assistance Program issues low-interest loans and a free equipment lending plan.

(800) 832-4827


Massachusetts Assistive Technology Loan Program

Massachusetts’ program issues short-term loans at low-interest rates to help finance the purchase of durable medical equipment.

(800) 564-9700


Michigan Assistive Technology Program

This program provides free equipment loans and informative demonstrations for participants.

(800) 578-1269


System of Technology to Achieve Results (STAR)

STAR offers device demonstrations, loans of equipment and a reuse program.

(888) 234-1267


Mississippi Project START

Project START offers device loans, reuse services and computer refurbishment services statewide.

(800) 852-8328


Accessibility Medical Equipment

AME sells low-cost medical equipment, including CPAPs and therapy beds, for beneficiaries.

(866) 201-3829



MonTech can lend up to 12 items per person for terms of 30 to180 days at a time.

(406) 243-5511



AT4ALL is Nebraska’s statewide directory for local nonprofits that offer short-term loans and equipment demonstrations and rentals for participants.

(877) 713-4002


CARE Chest of Sierra Nevada

CARE Chest of Sierra Nevada is a free statewide service that offers equipment rentals, diabetic supplies, prescription assistance, medical and nutritional support and several other services to low-income residents of Nevada.

(866) 206-5242

New Hampshire

Refurbished Equipment Marketplace

Refurbished Equipment Marketplace does not lend DME, but it does sell equipment to low-income residents of the state for up to 90% off the usual retail price.

(603) 226-2903

New Jersey

Richard West Assistive Technology Advocacy Center (ATAC)

ATAC hosts device demonstrations and offers loans and gently used DME for those who need them.

(800) 922-7233

New Mexico

New Mexico Technology Assistance Program (NMTAP) 

NMTAP operates a needs-based program for low-income residents who need equipment and financial loans on a short-term basis.

(877) 696-1470

New York

Technology-Related Assistance for Individuals with Disabilities (TRAID)

TRAID operates 12 distribution centers with an inventory of thousands of items around the state. Services offered include equipment loans, product demonstrations and some other benefits based on participants’ needs.

(800) 624-4143

North Carolina

North Carolina Assistive Technology Program

This program offers short-term loans of medical equipment and assistive devices across North Carolina.

(800) 662-7030

North Dakota

North Dakota Assistive 

North Dakota Assistive offers cash grants and a loan program for financially needy residents. The program also hosts device demonstrations and offers short-term equipment rentals at no cost.

(800) 895-4728


Ohio Easter Seals

Ohio Easter Seals offers equipment to needy adults for up to 90 days per item. Extensions may be possible with advance notice.

(440) 838-0990


Oklahoma ABLE Tech

ABLE Tech loans and sells DME at a discount.

(800) 257-1705


Access Technologies

Access Technologies maintains a no-cost library of assistive devices that are offered at no cost to borrow. There is a one time charge of $9 to cover the cost of refurbishment that must be paid before your first item checkout.

(503) 361-1201


Medical Equipment Recycling Program

This is one of many programs that are available for Pennsylvanians with medical needs but no insurance. Most other programs in the state are local or regional, but this program operates statewide.

(724) 656-4100

Rhode Island

New England Assistive Technology (NEAT) 

NEAT rents devices and offers a few other health-related benefits for participants.

(860) 242-2274

South Carolina

South Carolina Assistive Technology Program (SCATP)

SCATP hosts demonstrations, loans devices, refurbishes DME, trains beneficiaries on new equipment and offers assistance with unfamiliar technology for seniors.

(803) 935-5263

South Dakota


AT4ALL links assistive technology suppliers throughout the state via an online inventory.

(800) 645-0673


Tennessee Technology Access Program (TTAP)

TTAP offers device demos, loans and funding assistance for eligible program participants.

(800) 732-5059


Project Mend

Project Mend offers assistive devices for Texans with a medical necessity or a doctor’s prescription.

(210) 223-6363


Utah Assistive Technology Program

Utah’s Assistive Technology Program works statewide through various local partners. Applications may be submitted directly through these providers:

  • Active Re-Entry (serving Eastern Utah)
  • Ability First (serving Utah, Wasatch, Juab, and Sanpete Counties)
  • Options for Independence (serving Box Elder, Cache and Rich Counties)
  • Red Rock Center for Independence (serving Southwest Utah)
  • Utah Independent Living Center (serving Salt Lake, Summit and Tooele Counties)

(800) 524-5152


Assistive Technology Program

Vermont’s ATP offers DME to buy or borrow, and it offers technology demonstrations for program participants.

(800) 750-6355


Virginia Reuse Network (VRN)

VRN has a financial need requirement for participants, who may borrow inventory items at no cost.

(800) 552-5019


Washington Assistive Technology Act Program

This program provides equipment loans, demonstrations of equipment and direct funding assistance to state residents in need.

(800) 214-8731

West Virginia

Mountain State Centers for Independent Living

All West Virginia residents are eligible to borrow or buy assistive devices from the Mountain State inventory.

(800) 518-1448



AT4ALL works with more than a dozen agencies to offer an inventory of thousands of items for Wisconsin residents who need them.

(608) 514-2513


Wyoming Assistive Technology Resources (WATR) 

WATR operates an assistive technology inventory for over 1,500 items that may be borrowed or bought at a discount. The program occasionally gives DME away at no cost.

(888) 989-9463