Just what we need -- another hysterical rant about the medical system in the United States.
Why do we, the American People, put up with this shit for even a New York minute?
You won't need any Kleenex for this this screed. Neither my life, nor the life of someone I care about was threatened during this incident. This is just a typical rant about the kind of rampant fuckwittery, bureaucratic assholery, and unsympathetic butt fucking that people with medical problems put up with on a daily basis.
Let me first say that I have insurance. In fact, I have fucking fabulous insurance. I have both Medicare and a "Cadillac" policy from a good insurer to cover the crap Medicare is too cheap to cover. I have no deductible and no copays, even for specialists.
Look below the fold to see what transpired. I'll try to make it as brief as I can.
I recently had extensive foot surgery and my doctor prescribed a knee walker (a kind of non-powered scooter I can rest my bad foot on and tool around the house). According to my doctor, this thing is medically necessary so that I can get around while keeping my foot somewhat elevated during the healing process. The technical term is "durable medical equipment." According to my policy, it covers 80% of the cost for stuff like this.
My insurer doesn't have these lying around, so I had to go to a medical equipment rental place where I was told that my insurance didn't cover the knee walker at all. This came as quite a surprise because I had surgery on my other foot last year and they covered it with no problem.
I called Member services and was told that the knee walker was absolutely covered. I called the rental place and they told me again that it wasn't. I asked them to call Member Services and they refused, saying that they would only talk to the billing company my insurer uses. The insurer contracts out the payments so that they don't have to fuck with billing. The billing company told the rental place again that it wasn't covered.
This time, I at least got a reason. Medicare no longer covers knee walkers and the insurer doesn't cover equipment Medicare doesn't, even when a doctor considers it medically necessary.
I called Member Services again, who told me that they absolutely will cover durable medical equipment not covered by Medicare if a doctor prescribes it.
You might wonder why I didn't just go to another rental place. I called three of them. All three told me my insurance didn't cover the knee walker and the original place is near my home.
I called the original rental place back and at first they told me that they wouldn't rent me a knee walker at all. I called back later and got someone a little less rude who said that they would rent me one but I'd have to sign a paper saying that I would pay the full rental price if the insurer didn't come through.
Here's where things get fucking weird. I need the thing for two months. The rental cost is $120/month, and with my insurance picking up 80%, I get it for a very reasonable $48. But, if I'm not insured, the cost goes up to $240/month. If the insurance doesn't come through, I'm out $480 dollars!
Let that sink in for a minute. If I'm insured, my insurance company pays 80% of $240. But if I can't afford insurance, the rental cost doubles! In what universe does this make any sense at all? Do we, as a country, hate poor people so much that we're willing to say, "not only are we going to charge you for shit that is considered a basic human right in all other industrialized countries, we're actually going to charge you double."
But that's not the end of it. The exact same used knee walker that they're renting me can be purchased brand new at Amazon.com for $299!!! The rental company gets them wholesale, so we can assume that they're charging poor people more than twice the cost of the walker for a fucking two month rental! How do these people sleep at night? How much of that $480 is going to go to the CEO of the rental company to help pay for another bathroom at one of his vacation homes? What exactly is that asshole's contribution to society?
Now, I can afford the $480 if it comes to that, and the several Kafkaesque hours I've spent on the phone and god knows how many more hours I'll be spending trying to get my insurer's billing agency to actually pay the fucking bill, but here's what has me ready to go downtown and start screaming at strangers on the street: what if I couldn't? What if I wasn't retired and couldn't spend hours on the phone during working hours trying to convince brain-dead, ass-hat bureaucrats to do what my policy requires? What if it wasn't a knee walker, but an oxygen tank that some poor, less-fortunate bastard needed to breathe or some other piece of "durable medical equipment" that helped keep him or her from dying?
How can anyone with even a thimbleful of human compassion possible defend this system? If you assembled a team of crack scientists to design a way to completely fuck over poor people who are unlucky enough to get sick, they would have a hell of a time coming up with anything better than what we now have.
I think it's time to declare war on the "war on the poor." I repeat myself, why do we, the American People, put up with this shit for even a New York minute?