How much do ostomy supplies cost? $192 or $45? $63.58 or $14? And where can you buy them?

Filed Under: Costs, Health plans, Patients

A friend asked me to tell her where to buy ostomy supplies, preferably the Cymed brand — because she had a friend coming to visit, and as a good hostess, knowing her friend, felt that having ostomy supplies was important for comfort.

So I did some research.

As always, Reddit is an interesting source of information. Here’s a post on usage of supplies from the subreddt r/ostomy. Here’s a post on the cost of supplies from the same place.

Here’s another page, with reference to ordering on Canadian websites.

An acquaintance (not the woman who made the original request) asked, and said her circles told her this:

Two recommendations so far:
1) “I’ve used EdgePark for years. They have Cymed pouches.”
2) Byram Healthcare

I went to both sites — both want you to sign up for an account and give insurance information, which I did not do.

People on Reddit talk about buying on Amazon. I see Amazon does offer this brand, though I am not sure if it’s exactly what my friend is after — there are some subtleties in sizing which I did not grasp.

Reddit has a couple of pages where people talk specifically about prices, but not of that particular brand. The prices seem to be all over the map.

Not having a specific size, and not having access to several sites, I did not do a one-up shopping comparison of several sites.

Pay less buying on cash, instead of using insurance

One thing that people agreed: You might pay less if buying on cash than using insurance.

It may seem strange to seek advice from the internet, instead of from your doctor or insurer.

Also, quite often, U.S. citizens will leap to buy from Canadian websites, having heard that all things Canadian are better in the medical field. Turns out, not quite so much.

About Canadian websites: This Canadian website, innergood.ca, sells ostomy products, but I did not see the brand name my friend was seeking.

This Canadian website, Canmeddirect.ca, definitely has that product. The person answering at 1-855-422-6633 tells me “We cannot ship across the border.”

This site, lifesupply.ca, also has that product. They also say they cannot ship to the U.S.: “If you have a Canadian address, you can ship there and have someone pick it up.” 1.855.755.5433

Paylessmedical.ca also has that product. 1-(866)-533-0772. She, too,  said they cannot ship to U.S. She also gave me a price for the pouching system: This one a one-piece in a box of 10 is $160,28. two-piece system box of 10 $83.58. The adhesive barriers are box of 5 for $84.17.

Startlingly, she said prices are higher in Canada.  Many medications etc are cheaper in Canada. When I asked why, she mumbled something about the exchange rate.

What else she said: “We have a Canadian and U.S. division; the first price I looked on the U.S. side. The box that’s $83.58 in Canada in the states is $55.25.”

She added: “Call Best Buy Medical Supplies, our US branch. And the pricing is way cheaper. Phone is 866-940-4555. Web site is bestbuymedicalsupplies.com. Type in the brand and all the items pop up for you.”

Not a recommendation, but a few thoughts

I told my friend: “There are subtleties in sizing and again I don’t know which exactly you want so cannot compare on Amazon, but I think this U.S. branch of a Canadian site and Amazon would be good choices.

“If you’re thinking of using a Canadian site to buy medications, you want to be sure it’s reputable. Pharmacychecker.com verifies sites; here’s their list. This place is not on their list. I looked at a few others, and didn’t find the brand you mentioned, so I’m not sure if it’s not carried there, or what. The Canadian International Pharmacy Association also verifies sites; here’s their list and search tool. This site is not on their list either.

“Not sure what to make of that, that it’s not on either list — it comes up in searches, and I would think it’s fairly reputable, though it does give me pause that it’s not on either site. I guess I would not buy medications from them, but it seems that the supplies you are seeking are a different kettle of fish.”

In a related development, a community member told us this:

“I have been struggling to figure out WHY and HOW my supply company charges almost $192 for a box of 5 colostomy bags (I need 4 a month) and $63.58 for a bottle of deodorizer that I can buy outright online for $45/pouches $14. Deodorizer. I pay almost $400/mo for my insurance, after subsidy. (It’s an $800/mo policy). The mark ups on these products is Mind boggling and depleting my retirement fund. I’m 57 and not eligible for Medicare for many years.”

She was charged $1,265.92, of which insurance paid nothing. The $322.92 she was asked to pay fell under her deductible. But if she had purchased on cash, she would be richer. By putting away her insurance card, she’d be ahead.

We have learned about this before for various medical equipment and devices — we have heard from CPAP users, for sleep apnea, that sometimes using insurance for a device and the supplies is more expensive than paying cash.

The same can be true for things like wrist braces, knee braces, Aircasts and similar equipment. We’ve heard much the same about prescription medications — sometimes buying on cash is much less expensive than your co-pay.

Every plan is different, and it may depend on where you are in your deductible, etc. So in every case, you should ask: “How much will that cost me on my insurance? What’s the cash price? Can I have that in writing?”

A support group in Florida

Ostogroup.org is a nonprofit based in Florida that gives supplies to those who can’t afford them. The site says:

“Osto Group has been serving ostomates around the country since its move in May 2008 from California to Florida. Osto Group is a not-for-profit organization that receives donations of unused ostomy products from all over the country and serves ostomates from all around the country. It is always our objective and heartfelt commitment to show you respect, devotion, high-quality and expeditious service while continuing to meet your specific personal needs.

“We realize that as the economy takes a downward turn all of us might tend to become concerned as to where our provisions will come from month to month. In light of this situation it is human nature to begin to stock up or maybe even feel you need to hoard supplies. Because we are donation based and do not have an over-abundance of any specific stock items, we are asking each of our customers to consider their neighbor and to only order for a maximum of one month trusting that when you have a need it will be here at Osto Group waiting for you. This will be difficult for some, but it is necessary for us so that we can be fair to all. We thank you all in advance for your restraint and know that ALL will be served according to their needs. We want to reassure you that Osto Group will be here for you regardless of what the economy or world situations may appear to be.

wholeness-house-logo

 

Osto Group is an affiliate of Wholeness House, a not-for-profit organization that provides outreach to people, who have encountered the storms of life, and a residence to women of all ages, who need a place of refuge.”

If you have knowledge or expertise to share, please email us at info@clearhealthcosts.com or put your information in the comments.