If you’re about to enter the ostomy world, you need to know the difference between product manufacturers and distributors. There are several manufacturers, some worldwide, but three of them are gorillas in the marketplace:

Hollister — www.Hollister.com

Covatec — www.Convatec.com

Coloplast — www.Coloplast.com

The hospital will have a contract with one or more of these companies, and that’s the brand you’ll be sent home with. All manufacturers provide free Starter Kits, so ask if your hospital will order the one they contract with before you’re discharged. After you’re home, you can call each company directly and ask for their Starter Kit. You can never have too many supplies, and you’ll find handy accessories in each of them.

HOWEVER, you CAN NOT order your monthly supplies directly from the manufacturers. You can get free samples from them (which I strongly encourage) and they have ostomy nurses available for you to speak with. But in order to get your supplies to your home on a regular basis you MUST go through a distributor. Again, there are many, but these three are popular:

Shield Healthcare – – 800-765-8775

Byram Healthcare – 877-902-9726

Edgepark Medical Supplies – 888-394-5375

(The image above is from STLMedical. I’m not that familiar with them, but I believe they are also rather popular)

These distributors all accept Medicare, but if you have supplemental insurance, call first to make sure it’s accepted. I have Medicare with AARP Plan F, and all my supplies are fully covered. There is one caveat – Medicare limits the number of some supplies that you can receive each month. It’s mostly generous, but you are limited to 20 pouches/flanges each month. When you’re first home from the hospital you may need many more than that while you adapt. One option I’ve found is the website Stomabags.com. They don’t take any insurance, but offer a wide variety of pouches and accessories. Typically, the cost for 10 flanges/pouches is $50-100. These things are expensive! Still, I’ve found Stomabags to be a good resource for getting extra supplies quickly in between my usual orders. They also have ostomy nurses available for you to speak with.

And one last thing — before leaving the hospital, make sure you know what size your stoma is! As you set up your supplies, you’ll be ask that. Ask your nurse, and measure often when you first come home!