If you or a loved one uses a wheelchair, I am sure you are well aware of the cost. It’s like buying a car! Hopefully, you have insurance to help cover the cost, right? My wife Bonnie uses a powerchair due to MS. If you use a chair, you know—or maybe you don’t—that with good insurance, you can get a new chair once every 5 or 6 years.
My wife and I both receive disability. We have additional insurance coverage through Medicaid. This allows us to update her chair every 5 years. That’s pretty good. What we both found shocking was the cost of any chair accessories. I mean things that you might consider standard including items like a backpack, a cup holder, or maybe a USB port…
My wife was interested in these things because, despite being wheelchair-bound, Bonnie is a very active businesswoman, teacher, and professional musician. Bonnie uses her cell phone to keep track of her schedule, students, and performances, etc. A USB port in her chair would be a great feature, not just for business but for safety as well.
If your phone is charged, 911 is accessible when needed. That is always good to know. When Bonnie was getting fitted for her new chair, she asked the technician about available accessories. He responded that he did not know specific costs but that he would find out and contact her. The gentleman was extremely nice and Bonnie was impressed with the new method of molding the seat cushion for your chair to your body. It was a pretty cool process!
The shock came a few days later. Bonnie received an e-mail from the tech with the quotes for the accessories she asked about:
I ask you, who in their right mind would pay $280.00 for a backpack that you weren’t planning on climbing Mount Everest with? AND, to be honest, the “backpack” isn’t even very big, nor is it even accessible to the person IN the chair! $80.00 for a cup holder? Really? C’mon. This is just ridiculous.
My wife told the tech to immediately cancel all the extras she was considering and that we would go to the nearest convenience store and buy a simple backpack and cup holder just as we have done in the past. This sparked a discussion between me and my wife. (The discussion prompted this article!)
My wife and I agree. That these companies that “offer” these accessories are really trying to take advantage of the disabled community that they are supposed to be serving and supporting. It appears that these companies think that the disabled people they are helping might not be paying attention to details.
PAY ATTENTION: “DANGER! DANGER!… Will Robinson, DANGER!.. do NOT pay $80.00 for a cup holder!”
I’m thinking that it might be smarter for these chair companies to offer some of these accessories at a *gasp* discount price more compatible with Target or Walmart. Or, maybe they could even offer them for free as a thank you for choosing their chair company. Why not offer a cool backpack on a new power chair that has a bold company logo? It's a free advertisement. Plus, a happy customer speaks volumes.
Keep moving ya'll!
Image credit: Bonnie Slater