Health Care Waste: The Walker Nobody Wants

Health Care Waste: The Walker Nobody Wants
Eileen St. Pierre, The Everyday Financial Planner

While I was recovering in the hospital last December from major spine surgery, a medical equipment representative paid my husband Jeff a visit in my room. I was completely out of it – I had no idea he was there. He showed Jeff all this equipment that he said would greatly aid me in my recovery. Jeff was like “I don’t know what she is going to need.” Most of the stuff was complete overkill that Jeff could probably fashion himself out of stuff around the house. Jeff settled on just getting me a walker because the representative gave him paperwork showing it would be 100% covered by my health insurance.

Walker_Front1The hospital is in on this.

The medical equipment provider was somehow connected with the hospital. The scariest part for me was that this representative had all my information when he came to visit my room. He had all the paperwork ready for my husband to sign. What if Jeff wasn’t there? I was in no condition to give consent.

I guess if we had to do it all over again, we should have just told him no and we’d contact him later if we needed anything. But my husband was put in a rough position and this representative knew it. Do you know that many medical equipment providers now let you rent equipment? It would have save us a lot of grief knowing this.

The walker was not 100% covered.

The first bill I received after I was discharged was for this stupid walker. My insurance company was billed $195.97 (our invoice said it would cost $185.42). It was reduced down to $110.87 and the insurance company paid $88.70. We had to pay $22.17. Yeah, this annoyed the hell out of us but we read the fine print and realized we got screwed. We decided to pay it because I had to go in for a follow-up surgery in January and I did not know if I would need it. It turned out I never needed it. It’s still in its original packaging.

Now we can’t get rid of it.

We tried returning it even though the 30-day window had passed. The representative from the office that originally sold us the walker just laughed at my husband. A rep from another office (same company) was a lot nicer but could not help us. We asked independent medical equipment companies across Oklahoma if they would buy it from us – all we wanted was to recover our $22.17. One offered us $10. All the others said they could not help us.

We tried selling it on eBay, but there are competitors who are selling theirs for less than it costs us to ship it. Not sure how they can afford to do that, but that’s probably another scam I really don’t want to find out about. Now we have it listed on Craig’s List. We’d even be willing to just donate it to someone who really needs it.

For those who really need the walker, Medicare and supplemental insurance covers the full cost. Why buy mine for $22.17? Just get it from that nice representative who takes the time to visit you in the hospital.

It’s all waste.

The cycle just keeps continuing. And I don’t expect Congress to do anything to end it anytime soon. One suggestion would be to give Medicare permission to purchase medical equipment from eBay and Craig’s List. They’d save us taxpayers a whole lot of money.