Some people undergo special surgical procedures that create ostomies. An ostomy is an opening that connects an internal organ with the body's surface. These openings can be temporary or permanent. Those that are used for the short term are generally necessary to remove stool and other harmful contaminants while the body heals. Permanent ostomies are generally necessary for people suffering from conditions that cause impairment of an organ, such as inflammatory bowel disease and rectal cancer. To use the opening, patients attach a pouch to the site that collect the substances.

There are many different types of these openings, and they're generally named for the organ that pertain to, such as a colostomy (that leads to the colon) and an ileostomy (that attaches to the small intestine's ileal). No matter the kind you have, it requires special care to keep the site clean and minimize irritation as well as to ensure the pouch is properly attached. That's where ostomy paste comes into play.

What is ostomy paste?
Ostomy paste is used to help attach the pouch to the body for contaminant collection. It is applied to the rubber rim of the pouch before the bag is placed on the skin, and it serves as a gentle caulking material or filler to prevent leakage and help keep the pack in place. The paste resembles glue, but there are no adhesive qualities to it. It can generally be removed by peeling off after 48 hours. Cleansing wipes can also be used to remove any paste residue. Note that this paste often contains alcohol and can irritate the skin, especially if it comes in contact with the opening.

Does Medicare cover ostomy paste?
Beneficiaries who have ostomies can get coverage for their related supplies, including paste. Medicare Part B pays for 80 percent of the cost, and you take care of 20 percent. The cost of your product must be approved by Medicare in advance, and you are also responsible for meeting your plan's deductible.

How do I qualify for coverage?
To be eligible for coverage of your ostomy paste, you must have a surgical opening necessary to facilitate in the treatment or recovery from a condition. Medicare only helps pay for the cost of urinary ostomies, colostomies and ileostomies, which are the most common types of these openings. Your doctor must also determine that you require the paste for proper use of the ostomy system. If the skin around the site is smooth, you may not need any. However, if the area is uneven or in a difficult-to-attach part of the body, your physician may determine that a paste will help reduce leakage and make the ostomy treatment more effective. Depending on the state of your condition, the national health care program may limit the amount of paste for which you can get coverage.

How much will ostomy paste cost?
Depending on the brand of paste you purchase and the size of the tube, you might end up paying as little as $5 for 2 ounces before Medicare assistance. Some higher quality varieties, such as those intended for people with scar tissue or gaps around the site, can cost more than $40 for a 2-ounce tube.

Where do I get ostomy paste?
You can generally purchase ostomy paste through your pharmacist if you have a prescription from your doctor. You can also buy it through medical supply companies. When shopping for your ostomy supplies, be sure to go through a provider that has been approved by the national health care program. Otherwise, you may end up having to cover the entire cost on your own.