People who experience both chronic and acute respiratory issues may need to use supplemental oxygen in order to breathe easier and prevent their symptoms from worsening. Oxygen therapy can be provided in a clinical setting or through portable devices like the Inogen 4.

How Does Oxygen Therapy Work?

When used at home, oxygen therapy is usually administered to a patient via a nasal cannula or a face mask that is connected to an oxygen source. The type of oxygen source a patient uses can depend on a variety of factors.

Common types of at-home oxygen therapy devices include:

  • Oxygen concentrator. These devices can be bulky and meant for use only in the home or, like the Inogen 4, can be designed as a wearable unit for better portability. They operate by drawing in the surrounding air and filtering it so that only pure oxygen is delivered to the patient.
  • Compressed oxygen. This method of oxygen delivery relies on a metal tank filled with compressed oxygen. While these tanks can come in multiple different sizes, most patients prefer a portable size that isn’t too heavy to move around. A drawback of this type of oxygen delivery is that the tank needs to be refilled or replaced frequently.
  • Liquid oxygen. This type of device shares characteristics of both the compressed and concentrated oxygen devices. Oxygen is compressed, then cooled, until it can be frozen. These devices usually do not require electricity in order to function and are typically comprised of two units, one stationary and one portable.

All oxygen therapy devices allow users to control the rate of flow, but patients should clarify with their doctor what this rate should be and how often they should use devices like these. A doctor may advise some patients to keep a pulse oximeter on hand, which can provide a measure of a person’s oxygen saturation, so that they can prevent dangerously low oxygen levels.

What is the Inogen 4?

The Inogen 4 device is described as a small, lightweight and quiet oxygen concentrator that can connect via Bluetooth with the company’s own mobile app. It can be powered by a single or double battery or it can be plugged in to provide continuous oxygen support around the clock. Extra batteries and accessories can be purchased as a package with the unit or separately as needed.

Inogen 4 is designed to be used with a nasal cannula and can maintain an appropriate flow rate with up to 25ft of tubing. The device operates with the company’s Intelligent Delivery Technology, which controls the pulse dose according to certain environmental factors, such as during sleep or daily activities.

Medicare Coverage for Inogen 4

Original Medicare coverage through Part B sets the standards that define what counts as durable medical equipment and how much of the cost Medicare insurance will pay. Currently, portable oxygen concentrators like the Inogen 4 can be considered durable medical equipment if the Medicare recipient has a qualifying medical need to use one. Your doctor may need to provide documentation of your current health needs and any related lab work that can prove you would benefit from oxygen supplementation.

With Medicare Part B insurance, cost-sharing obligations for recipients in need of durable medical equipment usually include meeting the deductible and paying 20% of Medicare’s approved amount for that equipment. Recipients may be able to reduce their out-of-pocket expenses for an oxygen concentrator if they purchase a Medicare Supplement that helps cover costs associated with deductibles, copays and coinsurance amounts, or, alternatively, by enrolling in a Medicare Advantage plan that will include your Part A and Part B coverage and additional benefits. Low-income Medicare recipients may be eligible for Medicaid assistance in their state, which can also help cover cost-sharing obligations like these.

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