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Urological supplies are used in the treatment of chronic urinary retention or, in rare cases, permanent urinary incontinence. With chronic urinary retention, you may be able to urinate, but have trouble starting or emptying the bladder completely. You may also urinate frequently or feel like you still have to go after you've finished. Some people with chronic urinary retention feel an urgent need to urinate but have little success emptying the bladder.
Although anyone can experience urinary retention, it is common for men in their fifties and sixties because of prostate enlargement. Urinary retention can also be caused by an obstruction in the urinary tract or by nerve problems that affect signals between the brain and the bladder.
What kind of urological supplies are available?
The most common type of medical device for urinary care is the catheter, which is a tube used to drain and collect urine from the bladder. Every type of catheter also requires additional supplies such as non-petroleum lubricating gel, irrigation supplies, drainage bags, and an appropriate container to collect the drained urine.
Your healthcare provider may recommend that you use a catheter if you have:
- Chronic urinary retention
- An obstruction in the urinary tract (such as a bladder stone or, in men, a swollen prostate gland)
- Rectocele or cystocele (when the bladder sags or moves out of normal position)
- A condition that affects the nervous system, such as spinal cord or brain injury, cerebral palsy, or multiple sclerosis
- Serious trauma to the spine, pelvis or bladder
- Other medical conditions such as heavy metal poisoning, stroke, diabetes, or dementia
- Any condition in which you are confined to bed and cannot get to the toilet
- Urinary incontinence, if all other types of treatment have failed
Catheters come in many sizes, materials (latex, silicone, Teflon), and styles. Some catheters are specifically designed for men, while others can be used by males or females. A healthcare provider can determine the correct type and size of catheter for you.
There are three main types of catheters available:
- Indwelling catheter: Indwelling urinary catheters, such as the Foley catheter, are left in the bladder and attach to a drainage bag. You can use an indwelling catheter for a short time or for an extended length of time. Although indwelling catheters can be used by women and men, some come with a curved tip specifically for men to make it easier to thread the catheter past the prostate.
- Condom catheter: Condom catheters are external catheters designed for men, and can lower the risk of damage to the urethra or urinary tract infections often associated with indwelling catheters. With condom catheters, a condom-like device is placed over the penis and a tube leads from this device to a drainage bag. There are several ways to attach the external catheter as well as a variety of sizes to choose from. Condom catheters are intended for a single-time use between 24 to 48 hours.
Reusable condom catheters are also available for men who have undergone prostate surgery and are experiencing urinary incontinence, but do not want to use bulky pads or adult diapers.
- Intermittent (short-term) catheter: Intermittent catheters are generally used by men and women for short-term use to drain urine from the bladder when needed. The procedure for emptying the bladder with this type of catheter is called Intermittent Self-Catheterization (ISC). Intermittent catheters are one-time-use devices that are thrown away after each use.
There are two main types of drainage bags available:
- Leg bag: A leg bag is a small device that attaches to the leg by elastic bands. You can wear it all day, because you can hide it under pants or a skirt and easily empty it into the toilet.
- Down drain bag: This is a larger bag that is generally used at night because it will hold more. You can place the device on the floor or hang it from your bed.
Does Medicare cover urological supplies?
Yes, Medicare Part B covers urological supplies for the treatment of permanent urinary incontinence or permanent urinary retention. Medicare will pay 80 percent of approved amounts from a participating Medicare supplier.
Quick overview of Medicare coverage guidelines for urological supplies:
|Urological Device||Quantity Covered|
|Intermittent urinary catheter||200 per month|
|Condom catheter||35 per month|
|Indwelling catheter, Foley type||1 per month|
|Irrigation tray||1 as needed, but not routinely|
|Irrigation bulb or syringe||1 as needed, but not routinely|
|Bedside drainage bag||2 per month|
|Urinary leg bag, latex||1 per month|
|Urinary drainage bag, vinyl||2 per month|
|Lubricant||1 packet per episode of intermittent catheterization|
|Extension drainage tubing||2 per month|
How do I qualify for urological supplies?
In order to qualify for urological supplies coverage, you must meet the following criteria:
- You have permanent urinary retention or permanent incontinence
- You have a doctor's order or prescription
- You (or your caregiver) are qualified to administer the procedure
Additional medical records may be necessary for certain situations.
How much will I pay for urological supplies?
How much you pay will depend on whether or not you have Part B coverage. However, in general, if you are enrolled in Medicare Part B:
- After you have paid your yearly deductible, you will pay 20 percent of the approved Medicare amount.
- You will pay less if you buy from a supplier who accepts assignment. A supplier who accepts assignment has agreed to charge only the Medicare-approved amount.
- You may pay less if you have a Medigap or Medicare Advantage Plan, depending on your benefits with the plan.
Where do I buy urological supplies?
You can buy urological supplies from any retail or online store that sells them; however, you will save money if you order from a supplier who accepts Medicare assignment. It's important to know that many suppliers accept Medicare assignment on only some urological items. So you will need to check if the supplier you choose accepts assignment on the items you need.