Monday, September 17, 2007

How much does yellow cost?

So my quest to try to get a power wheelchair that will take me outside continues. And I've discovered something - I can't even afford to buy yellow!

Here's how buying a wheelchair works if your medical condition requires a custom chair, with your measurements, so that you fit properly in it and don't get any skin problems or other complications. Features on a chair, which add to the base price, like tilt and recline, may be necessary depending on your health. Or suspension which, if you're prone to spasms, may be needed. And, of course, there's the all important question of the color. Since I plan to use this outside, I want a bright color so I'm seen if I go out and about in the neighborhood crossing streets where folks like to play zoom zoom with their cars.

Anyhow, based on my medical needs, the chair I need was narrowed down to two or three possible models. I've been looking for a gently used chair in these models that has the most important configurations I need or what they call a demo or a "quick ship" model which some folks provide that is configured for quick sale and can save money. So far no luck so I made the mistake of looking at new chairs.

By the way I did find two chairs this weekend for other folks and I'm very happy about that. It was through private individuals, which is usually the way I find chairs for people after doing lots of reading. I want to thank the people who stepped up who had chairs and made deals possible. Like many other people I've assisted, these folks have insurance (be it Medicare or private) but their claims were denied. (So as presidential candidates talk about everyone having insurance, my question is: will it cover wheelchairs and other equipment we need? Those are the kinds of tough questions those of us in the disability community need to be asking.)

Anyhow back to trying to get a chair for myself. I called one place up this weekend. Even with cutting out some of the things I need, the price came to eight grand- which is daunting. So I said to the guy "Can I buy this in pieces?"

"What do you mean?"

"Could I buy just the piece that's yellow?"

"I can't sell you just part of a wheelchair," he said. Then he added "I don't think."

I think he can. Because, let's face it, I was chopping off parts I need left and right just to get the price down.

It would help to have a 3D model here to inspire me . And I really like yellow so that would particularly help me along. In fact I might hold that piece in my lap and pretend I'm outside rolling around. Zoom zoom. Just think - kids in wheelchairs would get great training to become engineers. Their parents could hand them each piece as it came in the mail and say "Here, Johnny, Daddy worked some overtime so the cross bar came in today. Why not add that to the rest of the frame? Why, in about a year or so you'll be able to get out of that chair that no longer fits you and into this one!"

And Johnny could roll across the room to his Daddy, exhausted on the couch whom he hasn't seen in three weeks because of working overtime and say "Thanks, Dad! Could you get the wheels next? I think I can duct tape the rest together."

It might even lead to new wheelchair designs if they gave us just the pieces. I can imagine people would get very resourceful putting the pieces together if it meant they could get out. I know I would.

In fact, maybe that's what they're afraid of...


hotwheelz said...

I'm glad you're writing about how hard it is for people to get wheelchairs. My chair got bent in my accident and I bought a used one but it doesn't fit me which is causing pain. But I had to get one for work. I can't even imagine trying to afford a power chair.

Jeff said...

They nickle and dime us on every option. I ordered a manual chair but need certain options and the base price was doubled so I had to cross off things and just do without safety features and other items. It's ridiculous but I'm paying for this chair myself and just can't afford to get what I need even though I work.

Anonymous said...

My parents had to buy me a used wheelchair when my other one broke because it took so long and then insurance wouldn't pay for one that took me outside. We looked a long time for one but found one.