Despite most myths and misinformation, getting an electric wheelchair isn’t that difficult providing your physician can document the need.
Clearly have them state that you need a manual, electric or even an electric chair with tilt features–it’s almost straight forward, but people make some simple mistakes.
(1) You can’t walk into a company that provides medical equipment and say ‘I need an electric chair.’ Even though we know many people that need electric wheelchairs may have some ability to stand and walk short
distances, the employees of that company are Medicaid–Medicare licensed, and if they “see” you vertical and walking, they can’t legitimately provide you with a wheelchair.
(It would be my guess that private insurance
companies have the same rules and guidelines so you may want to check with your insurance provider.)
(2) For those of us who are veterans, which I am, you will need a Medical Consult from your VA physician and it is all handled in house by the Physical Therapy Department.
Though do know, there are guidelines
that will help you from having to wait for some unnecessary amount of time.
(3) Whether private insurance, the VA or Medicaid and Medicare, your provider will want to provide a wheelchair for you that may end up being problematic.
Example: If they provide you with a chair that has a 250 pound weight capacity and you currently weigh 235 pounds, you may want to have them upgrade you to a larger model because we all know, being confined to a
wheelchair is going to cause you to gain weight, not lose weight.
As the owner and long-time user of more than ten chairs, I suggest you avoid their kind offering of an electric scooter. In my opinion, they are just too big and bulky for small apartments and for use on city buses and other transit vehicles.
Another hurdle that is a tough one to get around is that unless there is a medical reason why you can’t “self propel” a manual chair, that will be what you get.
My argument with that logic is that despite the ADA of 1990, businesses and communities are rarely accessible and trying to propel yourself around could be exhausting, if not even debilitating.
In their defense, however, the insurance providers will argue that the chair is to provide you with assistance “inside the home,” not outside. I don’t think that makes a lot of sense because what about the “quality of life”
Shouldn’t you be able to travel about, visit friends, go to college and even make medical appointments which are, obviously, outside of your home?
(4) Final argument: what if you don’t have insurance? Good question.
If you were a public safety officer and you had to retire due to injury or disease, such as I did, you are entitled to an unbelievable
cash payment depending on when you separated from your agency. This is through the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance Programs–
Public Safety Officers’ Benefits.
Other than that, this is where fraternal and social organizations have to step in.
Easter Seals is probably the best bet because of their national offices. My saving grace for the last year was a one of a kind organization in Columbus, Ohio called the Veterans First Foundation–but it’s only for vets.
Unlike organizations like Goodwill or Chain Thrift Stores, any item that they have at their facility, if you need it, you can have it at no charge. From medical equipment to clothing, if you can provide them with a copy of your DD-214, stop by and go shopping.
There are no guidelines on having to be from Columbus or even the state of Ohio. http://www.veteransfirst.us/
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