People having an ostomy know that it will cause an economic impact on their budget, especially if they are non-insured or under-insured. All types of questions arise: How much do ostomy bags cost? What are the most important criteria when choosing an ostomy bag? What is the average bag price difference for most popular brands? Where can I find ostomy bags for sale? Will the ostomy diminish my quality of life and work?
“While ostomy surgery may improve health-related quality of life by reducing disease burden, it can often decrease the general quality of life in other ways. Common themes in health-related quality of life for ostomy patients include factors such as social adjustment, fatigue, pain, leakage, physical functioning, changes in clothing, and diet. A significant concern of patients with an ostomy bag is the return to work, work efficiency, and worries about social and personal life due to the presence of the ostomy bag. While factors such as coping, acceptance, and availability of ostomy specialist to patients have been identified as methods to improve health-related quality of life of ostomy patients, there have been few technological advancements geared towards improving health-related quality of life of individuals with an ostomy bag.”1
First of all, to calculate your expenses, you must know what equipment and accessories you will need. When you have a new ostomy, sometimes the hospital provides you with free pouch samples to decide what pouching system and manufacturer suits you best. Once this stage is over, you will have to purchase bags, wafers, and accessories on your own.
“There is a multitude of stoma accessories that are used in conjunction with stoma appliances. These are available on prescription. Accessories can be used to prevent leaks, to remove adhesive and to protect the peristomal skin. The nurse needs to carefully assess the situation to ascertain whether accessories are necessary and if so, that accessories are used correctly. While it is important not to waste products, as they are expensive, it is also necessary to provide the ostomate with a secure appliance that does not leak. Following a careful assessment by the community nurse, it still might be necessary to refer to the stoma specialist or stoma care nurse (available in the local district hospital), but it is possible to resolve some situations in the community setting. Often the community nurse can guide the ostomate on the correct usage of stoma products and educate them as necessary.”2
If you are insured and have not spent your annual coverage limit, you have no concern. However, that is not the case for most under budget patients, especially if they require additional accessories and supplies
“When choosing and appliance, make sure you take into account whether or not you can afford that particular system for the length of time that you will have your stoma. Some systems can be quite expensive. The coverage of ostomy supplies varies between countries, with some covering all the cost and others covering none. Find out what government or private plans are available where you live. […]
Lots of healthcare stores also sell ostomy appliances online, and will often have sales or sell cheaply in bulk. Finally, your stoma nurse may have a few sources of her own, such as patients who no longer need the supplies they have stockpiled. When you are buying supplies outside of a pharmacy or healthcare store, make sure that you check the expiration date on the supplies and ensure, to the best of your ability, that they are in good condition; bags that have deteriorated or are damaged will often result in leaks. […]
Buy the best system that you can afford, even if you would rather spend the money elsewhere. You need to view your ostomy system as a necessity; it’s not worth having an appliance that doesn’t work.”3
How much do ostomy bags cost?
Purchasing regular pouching systems for an ostomy (not considering unforeseeable events) could cost an American patient around eight hundred dollars per year. Health insurance coverage will regularly allow you to have enough ostomy supplies and get extra accessories that provide more freedom. The problem arises when people have limited insurance coverage or when they are non-insured.
Another way of lowering costs is through online shopping. Some people find that purchasing online products offers considerable savings compared to buying at retail shops. This way, they can shop freely and without the hassle of the selling merchant. It also allows you to check bag price differences between the most popular brands in the comfort of your home.
For instance, you can buy a box of 5, 10, 20 or 30 pouches at one time, but this often depends on your budget. Additionally, consider that your bag changing frequency and routine will influence your expenses.
What are the most important criteria when choosing an ostomy bag?
Choosing an ostomy bag and the stoma accessories depends on multiple aspects: personal preferences, your type of work, outdoor activities, such as performing heavy sports, type of ostomy surgery (whether you have a colostomy, an ileostomy or a urostomy) and, the availability of financial resources, such as health insurance coverage. This last element often impacts your lifestyle after an ostomy.
Selection of the Ostomy Appliance
“Careful selection and fitting of the appliance after surgery will aid the patient’s comfort, raise morale and reduce the chance of later complications.
To enable the color and condition of the stoma to be checked in the early post-operative period, the appliance should be transparent.
Later the choice of appliance may depend upon factors such as climate, availability, and cost. However, any appliance used for the management of stomas should fulfill the following criteria:
(a) It should fit well and be acceptable to the individual. If the appliance is too tight, it may constrict and damage the stoma; if it is too lose it may cause leakage and skin soreness.
(b) It must be easy to manage.
(c) It should be safe and reliable to give confidence.
(d) It should be odor-proof, as deodorants are a poor camouflage.
There are many appliances available to the ostomate. The all-rubber non-disposable types are seldom used today except perhaps in the remote areas where patients are unable to get a regular supply of the plastic, odor-proof disposable type.
Two principles to be observed when selecting an appliance are:
- The diameter of the stoma. The stoma is often edematous in the initial post-operative phase.
In the operating theatre and thereafter the diameter should be measured with a cardboard measuring guide. The appliance chosen has a hole 1cm larger than the diameter of the stoma, to allow for edema and to prevent damage of the stoma.
- Efflux (effluent) from the stoma. The type and amount of efflux will depend on the site of the bowel exteriorized.”4
Choosing the right pouching system
“An ostomy pouching system has two parts: an adhesive barrier that attaches to the skin around the stoma and a pouch connected to the barrier that collects effluent. Determining the right ostomy pouching system for your patients will depend on their needs and preferences. Let’s look at some of the important choices. A pouching system may come in one or two pieces. With one-piece systems, the barrier (also called the wafer, flange, or baseplate) and pouch come as a single unit. One-piece systems are easier to apply and more flexible. Plus, they’re flatter and thus more discreet.
With two-piece systems, the barrier and pouch are separate components that must be attached. Depending on the product, the patient may need to press the pouch onto the barrier or use a locking ring mechanism or an adhesive coupling system. Two-piece systems allow the patient to remove the pouch without removing the barrier. Also, a patient can apply a smaller pouch, such as a stoma cap or close-ended pouch, before exercise or intimate relations.
Today, ostomy pouching systems offer many options that weren’t available just a few years ago—options such as built-in, varying levels of convexity and integrated closures. Skin-friendly barriers now eliminate the need for accessory products, such as skin prep, ostomy powder, and stoma paste. By knowing the new options, you can help simplify the pouch application process for your patient and increase patient satisfaction.”5
What is the average bag price difference for most popular brands?
Different types of ostomy bags have different prices: drainable or closed ends, one or two-piece systems, transparent or opaque, flat or convex, pre-cut or cut-to-fit, moldable, mini, and so on. Since the presentation and use are different, the prices vary as well. Ensure you select the one that fits your requirements and budget.
All things considered, several types of pouching systems and brands are available. Therefore, your expenses will depend on your specific needs and the type of ostomy bag you select. Consider asking other ostomates about their experience with certain manufacturers or brands before making a decision.
(1) Rouholiman, D., Gamble, J. G., Dobrota, S. D., Encisco, E. M., Shah, A. G., Grajales III, F. J., & Chu, L. F. (2018). Improving Health-Related Quality of Life of Patients With an Ostomy Using a Novel Digital Wearable Device: Protocol for a Pilot Study. JMIR research protocols, 7(3), e82. Available online at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5891667/
(2) Burch, J. (2011). Resuming a normal life: holistic care of the person with an ostomy. British journal of community nursing, 16(8), 366-373. Available online at https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/20fe/fe3fae8a1edf50a6defe7b668b09e4aa556b.pdf
(3) Cross, A.W. (2016). My Other Bag’s a Prada: Quick and Dirty Tips for Surviving an Ileostomy. Glory Box Press. Available online at https://books.google.co.ve/books?id=xUlLDwAAQBAJ&pg=PT27&dq=stoma+collars&hl=es-419&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiK54Xk8pviAhXLnOAKHR6dDikQ6AEIJjAA#v=onepage&q=stoma%20collars&f=false
(4) Vlok, M. E. (2002). Manual of nursing (Vol. 2). Juta and Company Ltd. Available online at https://books.google.co.ve/books?id=bxR2OEnjlowC&pg=PA43&lpg=PA43&dq=ostomy+selection&source=bl&ots=W47cCfY_yh&sig=ACfU3U0IJ_YcY9FboyyqTwv9HXxCeFMgvA&hl=es-419&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwiXjeK6-pviAhXEl-AKHSOSDh44ChDoATACegQICBAB#v=onepage&q=ostomy%20selection&f=false
(5) Bak, G. P. (2008). Teaching ostomy patients to regain their independence. American Nurse Today, 3(3), 30-35. Available online at http://woundcareadvisor.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/Ostomy_S-O12.pdf