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Ostomy Supply Basics


There are many different types and sizes of ostomy bags and accessories. When it comes to ostomy bags and pouching systems, one size does not fit all.  Your body and your stoma are unique.  While you are in the hospital, you will be fitted with an ostomy bag that fits you and your stoma.  Initially, you will be fitted with a clear ostomy pouch, which allows clinicians to monitor the health and function of your newly created stoma.  Typically, you will be sent home from the hospital with 1-2 weeks’ worth of ostomy supplies.  After you are discharged from the hospital, you can explore the multitude of ostomy bag sizes, types, and features.  Most ostomy bag manufacturers will send 1 or 2 free samples upon request.  Find manufacturer contacts and tips for ordering samples HERE.

Ostomy bags are prescription items but are not typically available at pharmacies, box stores, or medical supply stores.  Ostomy supplies are delivered by mail discretely to your door by an ostomy supply company (provider).  Most insurance companies cover at least a portion of the cost of ostomy supplies. Establishing a supplier that works with your insurance will ensure the lowest copay. Some insurance companies consider ostomy supplies as “DME” (durable medical equipment) and may provide additional coverage.

Like medication, insurance companies limit the amount of ostomy bags they cover per month. The number of ostomy bags allowed per month is standardized and should be enough to last a month.  If you are using more than the allowed number of ostomy bags, make an appointment with an ostomy nurse (WOCN: wound, ostomy continence nurse) to troubleshoot the problem. You can buy extra ostomy bags by paying out of pocket, but these are not covered by insurance and can be expensive. 

The types of products and quantities typically covered by insurance CLICK HERE

Before you leave the hospital, you can ask for help establishing a Supplier for ostomy supplies.  If this isn’t possible, you can find a Supplier contact information under  Find Ostomy Supplies.  With your insurance card in hand, call the Supplier and ask if they work directly with your insurance.  If you are discharged into the care of Home Health or a Skilled Nursing Facility, they will oversee securing your ostomy supplies only while you are under their care.  You will need to establish a supplier when you are no longer under the care of Home Health or Skilled Nursing.

Click here to see a complete list of essential ostomy supplies

Click here to learn about how to choose ostomy supplies


There is a difference between an ostomy Manufacturer and an ostomy Supplier.  These terms are commonly confused and have quite different functions.   Suppliers, also called Providers, warehouse, ship, and distribute ongoing ostomy supplies and work with your insurance. Manufacturers make ostomy-related items and can send you 1 or 2 samples.  Manufacturers often send samples but are prohibited to send monthly supplies directly to consumers.

If you don't have insurance:

Low-cost ostomy supplies for the uninsured:



Many Ostomy product manufacturers offer free or low-cost ostomy supplies for people who qualify. 

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