Steve Heronemus

O Woe is Wheelchair

If you have read my book Shells: Sustained by Grace Within the Tempest you already have an intro to the absurdity of power wheelchair pricing and insurance coverage. With a couple of years more down the road, so to say, I have an update that tips the absurdometer beyond full.
My original power wheelchair was covered by private insurance and included the standing function which promotes better health and well-being. As my capabilities have changed, I need a couple of modifications to the chair. I need a joystick that requires less effort to push and a second set of controls in the back for someone else to drive me if I am stuck, particularly backing out of the van.
That sounds simple enough. Two parts, just order them and install. But of course it can’t be that simple.
The complication is who pays. I now get my insurance coverage through Medicrazy, er, Medicare. Medicrazy doesn’t cover standing power wheelchairs because, well, better health and well-being aren’t on the political agenda. What if everyone with some leg strength wanted a standing wheelchair? That would cost the entire American health care system literally $500,000 every. single. year. A preposterous sum what with having to support the nation’s billion-dollar Oxy habit.
Because it doesn’t cover standing wheelchairs, Medicrazy also doesn’t cover modifications or service to standing wheelchairs. For me, that meant I would have to pay out-of-pocket for my two parts. And for whatever parts and service I might need in the future. So I made the best financial decision and ordered a new wheelchair that would be covered, including the two parts I really need. It doesn’t matter to Medicrazy that the parts are exactly the same and interchangeable between the two chairs.
With my apologies to the American taxpayers, because I couldn’t pay the many hundreds of dollars for parts, you ludicrously bought me a brand-new $35,000 power wheelchair. Which is now the most expensive vehicle to have ever graced my garage because it isn’t driveable. But that’s another tale.