This is what I have to assume goes through durable medical equipment / wheelchair vendors minds. Yes I have a disability. I was born with Cerebral Palsy, a physical disability that effects my ability to control many of my muscles. No, I do not see a doctor any more regularly then the average person. I go to the doctor for my regular check-ups once a year. I get immunizations for grad school. I get the odd bout of the flu every couple years. That’s all I go to the doctor. But people must assume that because I have physical issues that I go all the time.
The reason that this came up is that after only using fore-arm crutches to help me get around for near a decade, I have decided that I need to get a properly fitted wheelchair for simi-regular use to help me get around the city easier. I just want to be able to go more then a few blocks without being wiped out once I get there. So I decided to buy a custom ultra-light wheelchair.
Did some searching around, and found that I could get what I wanted for around $1,000 USD. I figured out pretty quick that I did not really want to do the measurements myself, so I figured it would be the best idea to work with one of the local vendors to help me get what I want. I finally find one after a couple of weeks of looking around. Come to find out they want customers to go to a physical therapist for an evaluation before they will do a fitting and help with an order. I think ok fine. I don’t really need it. I know my physical issues and can rattle them off any time of day, but ok we’ll do that.
Then I find out they really want to deal with insurance. I do have medical insurance. I have a pretty good one in fact, but I’d rather not have to deal with them for this. I have the money to spend on a wheelchair. I am a student and the money will be a little tight, but I’d rather just hand over a credit card and pay it off then deal with the aggravation of insurance paperwork. They don’t seen to get this concept. I am trying to give them money. I am trying to pay them for a service, and they don’t want to take it. As far as I am concerned this is not a medical issue, it’s a business transaction. None of these people seem understand that.
So to continue the story, following the vendors instructions I contact a physical therapist that does wheelchair evaluations. First thing out of the schedulers month is for first time evaluations, send us a doctors order and we will get you an appointment. I attempted to explain that while I have a disability, I do not need to see a doctor. I told them that I have insurance that does not require a referral to see a specialist, and baring that I would be happy to pay out of pocket. I would just like to get the process moving along. As of this post, it has been three days and I have yet to hear back from them.
I was born with CP (Cerebral Palsy). I have lived with it for 26 years now. I know what I need much better then any doctor I have ever seen. It should be a fairly simple process to buy a piece of equipment that would help me. I know what I need and what I want. But no. If I had been hit by a car a couple months ago and a doctor refereed me though the process I would have had a top of the line titanium chair by now. But having been born with a disability and not wanting to waste my time jumping through hoops that don’t apply to my situation, I am having a hard time being seen, even when I am attempting to shove money into their hand. So I can’t even order a basic custom chair that I would be comfortable with and that work perfectly for me right now, for the simple fact that I don’t need a physical right now, and don’t want to waste an afternoon or the money to have a doctor take one look at me and be ready write out an order for a wheelchair evaluation.
Could I waste an afternoon and the co-pay to have a doctor look at me for five minutes to move the process along? Yes I could. But I should not have to.