Nineteen years ago things were a lot different the way my health insurance regarded the kinds of wheelchairs one needs. Back in 1998, I was able to get a supplemental wheelchair, a manual one, in addition to having a power wheelchair. All I needed was a physical therapist’s letter of recommendation, and it was a done deal.
I didn’t realize how lucky I was at the time, but now that I’ve started searching to get a new one I’ve learned something quite staggering – my insurance no longer covers a backup Manual wheelchair. They now see it as unnecessary. If you have one wheelchair, why do you need a second? I know. It doesn’t make any sense. What if one breaks? You’re in a very bad situation usually when it does. I don’t think politicians realize wheelchair repairman don’t appear out of thin air.
But now that is the law of the land, which has forced me to change my plans. They no longer will even consider me for a new manual wheelchair if I still want to have my power wheelchair serviced and replaced next year when it is up. I literally have to decide between the two, which for me was a huge disappointment upon learning this last week. They make me feel like a diva for wanting both a power and a manual wheelchair.
Fortunately, I know a lot of nice people. All I had to do was put the word out on social media and I have already received several kind people’s offers of letting me have their old manual chair. Some may work and some may not, but the kindness I have found in these people is refreshing. Many are high-end rigid frame chairs that are worth a lot too. I need to make sure I get the measurements right; something I’m nervous about. But to get a free manual wheelchair from literally a stranger online is going to be a really great day.
Now that I know this new law, I emailed my caseworker to ask her if there was still a possibility of assistance in this department. Since I’m on a Community Access for Disability Inclusion (CADI) Waiver, she said there might be, especially if all I request is power assist & not a new wheelchair. All I have to do is get a used (new to me) manual wheelchair and there is a strong chance they’ll approve the power assist. It is after all saving my insurance about $10,000. I’m excited to get the ball rolling with the approval process.
I will need to wait a couple more weeks however for the request letter to be written by my physical therapist. Unfortunately, it’s a waiting game when it comes to having access to testing this equipment. And unfortunately again, this is necessary before the therapist can write a request letter. I do however have hope that at the end of the day I will get what I need.
I know I won’t be able to do crazy wheelies or win any marathons with the equipment, but the freedom of movement the equipment will lend to my life will be priceless. From being able to ride in vehicles to being able to get into inaccessible homes and buildings easier, it’s going to change my quality of life in a great way. Stay tuned to see how this tricky procurement phase develops.
Did you have to fight to get a second chair? What did you do?
Photo courtesy of Flickr