Suction Machine

Suction Machine

A suction machine is used to remove excess mucus and saliva that can accumulate in your mouth when your mouth and throat muscles become weaker and your swallowing may be impaired.

Clearing these secretions can help you breathe more easily, choke less when eating and drinking, and generally feel more comfortable. The suction machine is often used in conjunction with the cough assist machine, which pulls secretions from your lungs and throat up into your mouth for removal. The suction machine has an internal battery, so you can take it wherever needed.

How can I get one?

If you are having trouble managing secretions, your neurologist will order you a suction machine. No test is needed, and you do not need to meet any other specific criteria. A durable medical equipment (DME) company will process the order through insurance and deliver the suction machine to you at home or at your ALS clinic. A respiratory therapist will train you how to use and maintain it. Suction machines are often ordered in conjunction with bilevel machines.

How much will I have to pay?

Suction machines are fairly inexpensive. They are considered rentals for the first 13 months and are covered through Medicare, Medicaid, and most private insurance plans. After 13 months, the machine becomes yours and your supplies will continue to be covered by your insurance.

Medicare will cover 80% of the cost of your monthly rental. Medicaid, supplemental plans, and secondary private insurance should pay for the remaining 20%. If you have Medicare but do not have Medicaid, a supplemental plan, or secondary private insurance, you will likely have to pay the remaining 20% out of your own pocket.

If you do not qualify for Medicare—but have Medicaid and/or private insurance—find out what your durable medical equipment (DME) benefits will cover. If you have a Medicare Advantage Plan, be sure to ask about your DME benefits.

If you are facing out-of-pocket expenses that you cannot afford, talk with your DME provider and/or your ALS United Greater Chicago Care Services Coordinator about financial assistance options. Respiratory equipment is not generally available from loan closets, but you can always ask.


This guide was created by the ALS Hope Foundation and Your ALS Guide, an educational website for families impacted by ALS.