When a person has trouble with one or more of their organs, they sometimes require the help of an ostomy, also known as a stoma. Ostomies are holes created during a surgery that serve as an opening connecting the organ to the surface of the body. A pouch is generally placed over the incision to collect fluids that are excreted. The most common type is the colostomy, which collects feces. Another widely-used variety includes the ileostomy, which attaches to the iliac portion of the small intestine.

Depending on your condition, your ostomy may be permanent or temporary. Those that are used for the rest of your life are generally necessary when you have a disease that causes irreparable damage to the organ, such as rectal cancer. Those that are temporary might be used to collect pus, stool or other contaminants that can harm the body as you heal from a surgery or ailment.

What are ostomy barrier wipes?
When attaching an ostomy bag to the site, people tend to use pastes to create a seal that stops leakage. In these cases, you may want to use barrier wipes. These soft towelettes – they are generally alcohol-free to avoid irritating the skin – are soaked in a liquid that dries after you wipe it on your skin. It works to protectant by creating a clear film that guards your skin from the paste, which often contains alcohol and can cause rashes or itching. These wipes are disposable after one application and should not be reused to avoid spread of bacteria and the onset of infection.

Does Medicare cover ostomy barrier wipes?
If you have an ostomy, you may be eligible for coverage of your barrier wipes through Medicare Part B. The national health care program will take care of 80 percent of the price of your supplies, leaving you responsible for the remaining 20 percent. Note that you are required to meet your Medicare Part B deductible.

How do I qualify for coverage?
To be eligible for coverage of your barrier wipes, you will need a doctor's note stating that you require them to protect your skin from ostomy paste. That means your physician must also determine that you require the paste itself to securely attach the ostomy pouch to the stoma site and properly heal from your treatment or manage your condition. Keep in mind that Medicare only provides coverage for the most common types of ostomies: colostomies, ileostomies and urinary ostomies. The national health care program may also limit the number of barrier wipes that you receive coverage for, depending on the severity of your condition.

How much will ostomy barrier wipes cost?
The price of ostomy wipes varies according to the brand and quality you choose as well as how many come in the package. Most come in boxes of 50 and tend to cost between $8 and $12. However, some come in larger varieties that are meant to cover a greater areas of the body, and these may run you more than $40 for a box of 50. When buying yours, make sure to get the price of your barrier wipes approved before you order them. If Medicare does not authorize the cost, you may find yourself paying for the entire thing.

Where do I get ostomy barrier wipes?
These ostomy products are generally available for sale through a medical supplies wholesaler or home health care products manufacturer. You may also be able to find them at select pharmacies. Beneficiaries must buy through a durable medical equipment supplier that is approved by or under contract with Medicare to get coverage.