Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Why So Shortsighted?

When insurance companies just get it plain wrong.

If you've been disabled for long (or have cared for someone with a disability) you no doubt have discovered by now that insurance companies are rarely all that pleasant to deal with... or even when pleasant, they often are not as helpful as they should be. Case in point: Medical or adaptive equipment.

I get around, and I hear stories. One woman needed new batteries for her wheelchair, for instance. Her insurance wouldn't pay for batteries (a consumer expense, said they) but they would pay for a new wheelchair if she qualified. Hello?

In my own case, new rubber tips were not allowed (at a cost of under $10) for my crutches, but new crutches were available, at a cost of $100. Hello?

And finally, a case I heard about just this week, about a woman with a speech impediment who found a less expensive option than the text-to-speech converting computer her insurance had purchased for her. She'd learned that a common off-the-shelf iPhone ($300) and a certain app ($1) combo worked better for her than the computer her insurance had approved -- which totaled an astounding $8000. Her request for the iPhone was denied.


Insurance agencies, and especially MediCare, are strangling in rules and red tape. State MediCaid is sometimes even worse. Applying for a durable good or medical service is a process that could try the patience of Job. All too often, people are denied over and over because the goods or services in question fail to meet one criteria or other, forcing persons in dire need to wait, or worse, to be denied altogether.

Technology is advancing way ahead of the bureaucracy when it comes to insurance coverage, and this is a shame, given that newer technology often comes at a much lower cost. Take the iPhone as one example. A simple and yet powerful device that can be used to make calls, of course, but also comes with the capability to run literally hundreds of applications (like tiny computer programs) to perform a plethora of useful functions, like speech translation, navigation, information searches, and so on. Useful to the disabled? You bet! covered by insurance? Yeah, nice try.

So do I have a solution to this problem? I wish I did. For right now, all we can do is seek out these modern answers to our problems, and then begin the arduous task of lobbying our insurance companies, and government, to make them available to us through insurance. The irony is, the insurance companies will thank us (sort of) for saving them a bundle.

Or will they? Nah. What was I thinking? :)

No comments:

Post a Comment