Mobility Scooters and Chairs…Buyer Beware
By Bob Aronson
We’ve all seen the commercials from “The Scooter Store” and other like them that leave the impression that almost anyone can get one of these vehicles free. Well buyers should have factual information before making a decision.
First, there’s a huge difference between a scooter and a wheelchair and there’s a big difference between a powered and a manually operated chair and there’s an even bigger difference in the chairs and the manufacturers. Selecting such a vehicle takes time and patience. I know because I recently selected a scooter that my sister purchased for me. It took several days of internet research to sort them all out.
Let’s start with those claims about getting Medicare to provide you with a Buck Rogers type chair that will take you anywhere safely and in style. You can read the full report by clicking on this link but I’ll summarize it for you as well. http://tinyurl.com/7guvxx6
Medicare coverage for electric mobility scooters
Medicare Part B will cover most of the cost of electric mobility scooters, but only if your doctor determines that it is medically necessary. The scooter must also be used primarily for moving about your home and not as a “recreational” vehicle. You may have to pay up to 20 percent of the cost after meeting your Part B deductible.
Other requirements for Medicare coverage include:
· Your evaluation must be with a doctor or other qualified health provider
· The evaluation must be documented and say that you need a mobility aid for a medical condition (called a “Certificate of Medical Necessity)
· You must present the order or prescription to the Medicare-approved electric scooter supplier before Medicare can be billed
· You must be able to safely operate, and get on and get off of the scooter
· You must have good vision
· You must have a health condition that causes difficulty for you to move around in your home
Recent changes to Medicare coverage for mobility scooters
There have been several recent changes to Medicare coverage for “Durable Medical Equipment,” which includes medical supplies and electric mobility scooters. It’s important that you read and understand these changes.
In an effort to cut costs, Medicare began to implement what is called “competitive bidding” at the beginning of 2011. The program requires providers and suppliers of Durable Medical Equipment to submit competitive bids for their products in order to stay or become Medicare-approved. Under this new rule, you must use Medicare-approved suppliers, or Medicare will not pay for the item.
There’s a whole lot more you should know about Medicare coverage so if you decide to pursue that route, click on the link I provided. It’s all there.
If you choose to get an electric wheelchair and want Medicare to cover it,you will be pretty much restricted to what they will pay for. Certainly there are some things to look for that are critical and first among them is whether your home is wheelchair accessible. Wheelchair accessible refers to the capabilities of a building or structure to offer individuals that utilize a wheelchair or other mobility device, the ability to maneuver without interference. Will the chair fit through doorways? Are there ramps instead of stairs? Are the rooms big enough for the chair to turn around in (bathrooms in particular) This video will give you some idea of what it takes to make some homes wheelchair “Friendly.” http://tinyurl.com/o6eq4lh
If your residence is not accessible you have three choices. 1) you can remodel it to meet your needs. 2) you can move to a residence that is accessible 3) you abandon the idea of using a wheelchair. Should you choose to remodel your living quarters there may be some federal assistance available according to the Council for Disability Rights. http://www.disabilityrights.org/mod3.htm.
Should your home be accessible and should your physician prescribe a mobility vehicle for you there are several choices ranging from manually powered wheelchairs to power scooters but remember, they must be used in the home. For details see this link http://www.medicare.gov/Pubs/pdf/11046.pdf
Most doctors, health care providers, suppliers, and private companies who work with Medicare are honest. However, there are a few who aren’t. For example, some
suppliers of medical equipment try to cheat Medicare by offering expensive power
wheelchairs and scooters to people who don’t qualify for these items. Also, some
suppliers of medical equipment may call you without your permission, even though “cold calling” isn’t allowed. Medicare is trying harder than ever to find and prevent fraud and abuse by working more closely with health care providers, strengthening oversight, and reviewing claims data.
If you want to use a mobility vehicle outside of the home the expense is yours even though you have a legitimate disability powered vehicles are not covered by Medicare.
I have Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) simply put, my lungs don’t work very well and I run out of breath easily so that means I can’t walk very far without having to stop to rest. Despite that and despite my pulmonologists certification that I have the disease I do not qualify for a mobility vehicle for use outside the home even though it would allow me to do things I can’t normally do like take a walk with my wife (she walks I ride), walk the dogs, go ashore on a cruise or any of a number of things.
The major difference between scooters and wheelchairs is where they can be used and turning radius. Wheelchairs can turn on a dime, scooters cannot but scooters offer more flexibility like outdoor use, carrying capacity, clearance from the ground, speed, portability and some will even pull a small trailer.
According to “Disabled World” here’s the difference between an electric wheelchair and a scooter. http://www.disabled-world.com/assistivedevices/mobility/scooters/scooters-vs-wheelchairs.php.
An electric powered wheelchair for long-term use is a high-tech piece of equipment with a host of advanced features to vastly improve mobility.
An electric wheelchair usually has four to six wheels and is steered by a programmable joystick. Electric powered wheelchairs are highly maneuverable and can be used both indoors and on even terrain outside.
An electric wheelchair offers the widest array of seat movement options of any personal mobility vehicle. Many wheelchairs offer motorized stand, tilt, and recline functions which make them more comfortable to use for long periods of time. They also offer more support for people who have posture issues.
Powered wheelchairs are very heavy, which makes them durable and stabile, but which also makes them impossible to carry and limits their ability to be used with lifts. Powered wheelchairs generally do not fold, which means they cannot be easily transported in a standard car. Furthermore, their weight makes them too heavy for simple scooter lifts and trailers.
The tradeoff, however, is that electric wheelchairs offer four-point tie downs, which make them safer to use as a seat in a moving vehicle.
Electric power wheelchairs are the most expensive type of personal mobility vehicle; the models with advanced speed, power, and features rival or exceed automobiles for cost. Wheelchair prices can go up to around $15,000.
What Advantages and Disadvantages Does an Electric Medical Scooter Offer?
An electric mobility scooter is an excellent, low-cost way to be able to travel independently, both indoors and outdoors. Many people prefer a medical scooter over an electric wheelchair because they simply look cooler. There is a psychological advantage to not being confined in a wheelchair, and scooters offer a wide variety of styles, colors, and designs to make using a scooter more fun.
Mobility scooters can be broken down into three general types: the 3-wheel mobility scooter, the 4-wheel mobility scooter, and the compact mobility scooter. These three types of medical scooter cover a wide range of uses, from travel on rough terrain to navigation in tight areas such as store aisles.
A 3-wheel mobility scooter offers a tight turning radius and more room for long or stiff legs. A 4-wheel mobility scooter is more rugged and stabile, and can support weight of up to 500 pounds. A compact mobility scooter can be easily folded or disassembled for transportation in the trunk of a car.
A compact mobility scooter is also a good choice if the storage room in your home is limited. These medical scooters can be easily kept in an out-of-the-way corner or closet.
An electric mobility scooter is usually controlled with handlebars similar to those found on bicycles. They can reach speeds of up to 10 miles per hour, and some models can be used on roads, across fields, and up steep hills.
Another option for transporting a medical scooter is to use a simple trailer attached to the back of the car. With this kind of personal mobility vehicle, you do not have to buy a specially-equipped handicapped van to be able to travel in comfort.
A medical scooter is a cost-effective way to restore your mobility and independence. Even feature-packed models cost only a fraction of the price of an electric powered wheelchair. You can expect costs ranging from $1,000 to $5,000.
The scooter given to me by my sister and brother in law was one I selected after a lot of research. My criteria were as follows:
1. At least 5 inches of ground clearance so uneven pavement, curbs, knobby grassy areas and other uneven paths would not hang me up or cause damage.
2. Portability. It had to come apart in at least two pieces with no piece heavier than 50 lbs. It also had to be easy to assemble and disassemble with a minimum of lifting or bending.
3. Capacity. I weight about 180 and wanted a scooter that would carry twice my weight just as a safety factor. It also offers me the ability to carry some cargo like groceries or tools.
4. Lighting. Studies show that mobility vehicles with appropriate lighting are far less likely to be involved in an accident so mine has head and tail lights, brake lights, turn signals and hazard lights.
5. Speed. Most mobility vehicles are turtle slow like about 4 miles an hour. The one I bought will go 8. Obviously not speedy but fast enough.
6. Distance. Batteries ought to give you enough power to travel up to 20 miles. Some only go 5 or 6 and that diminishes as you go faster or up hills.
7. Transaxle. A good scooter should be able to get up and down city hills. A Transaxle acts like a transmission in a car and allows the vehicle to select the right gear for the grade
8. Ease of mounting and dismounting. The term speaks for itself.
9. Leg room. Again, the term speaks for itself
10.Cargo capacity. Mine comes with a rear mounted basket that will hold up to 3 bags of groceries.
11. Reverse gear. You don’t want to be up against a tree or curb and have to get off to lift and turn the vehicle. It must have a reverse gear.
12.Cane or crutch holder. Many mobility riders need canes or crutches when they dismount and go on by foot. Your vehicle should be able to accommodate this need.
13.Cup holder. You are going to carry a drink, where will you put it?
14.Rear view mirror. Just like a car, you need to be able to see what’s behind you.
15.Keyed ignition. If you need a key to start and run it, it is more difficult to steal it.
16.Comfortable, adjustable seating. It must be comfortable and adjustable for height and other needs.
17.Easy battery connectivity. Batteries should be easily removable and replaceable without connecting wires or using tools.
18.Battery charging. Your mobility vehicle should have the capacity to be charged by the car or truck’s electrical system instead of waiting to get home to plug it in.
19.Tires. The bigger the better.
20.Number of wheels. A four wheel scooter is more stable but a three wheel scooter is more maneuverable.
21.Warranty and repair. Make sure you get a good warranty and that your mobility vehicle is repairable nearby.
That’s my list of criteria, you may develop your own but I think you can see that selecting a mobility vehicle is more complicated than going to Wal-mart and picking the first one you see. Remember, too, that prices vary. They range from as little as $500 to well over $5,000 depending on what you are seeking.
In some cases, should you choose a heavy duty, non-portable scooter you may be faced with the added expense of adding a lift or carrying platform to your car or truck. Those items can also run into the thousands of dollars.
The point of all of this is, do your homework. Carefully determine just exactly why you want a scooter and what you will use it for. And always ask yourself this question, “Is this the scooter I want, or is it the one I need.” There could be a huge difference between the two.
Bob Aronson of Bob’s Newheart is a 2007 heart transplant recipient, the founder of Facebook’s nearly 3,000 member Organ Transplant Initiative and the author of most of these donation/transplantation blogs.
You may comment in the space provided or email your thoughts to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. And – please spread the word about the immediate need for more organ donors. There is nothing you can do that is of greater importance. If you convince one person to be an organ and tissue donor you may save or positively affect over 60 lives. Some of those lives may be people you know and love.
Please view our new music video “Dawn Anita The Gift of Life” on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eYFFJoHJwHs. This video is free to anyone who wants to use it and no permission is needed.
If you want to spread the word personally about organ donation, we have another PowerPoint slide show for your use free and without permission. Just go to http://www.organti.org and click on “Life Pass It On” on the left side of the screen and then just follow the directions. This is NOT a stand-alone show; it needs a presenter but is professionally produced and factually sound. If you decide to use the show I will send you a free copy of my e-book, “How to Get a Standing “O” that will help you with presentation skills. Just write to email@example.com and usually you will get a copy the same day.
Also…there is more information on this blog site about other donation/transplantation issues. Additionally we would love to have you join our Facebook group, Organ Transplant Initiative The more members we get the greater our clout with decision makers.
Puede comentar en el espacio proporcionado o por correo electrónico sus pensamientos a mí en firstname.lastname@example.org. Y – por favor, difundir la palabra acerca de la necesidad inmediata de más donantes de órganos. No hay nada que puedas hacer lo que es de mayor importancia. Si usted convence a una persona de ser donante de órganos y tejidos puede salvar o afectar positivamente a más de 60 vidas. Algunas de esas vidas pueden ser personas que conoces y amas.
Por favor, consulte nuestro nuevo video musical “Dawn Anita The Gift of Life” en https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eYFFJoHJwHs YouTube. Este video es libre para cualquier persona que quiera usarlo y no se necesita permiso.
Si quieres correr la voz acerca de la donación de órganos personalmente, tenemos otra presentación de PowerPoint para su uso libre y sin permiso. Sólo tienes que ir a http://www.organti.org y haga clic en “Life Pass It On” en el lado izquierdo de la pantalla y luego sólo tienes que seguir las instrucciones. Esto no es un espectáculo independiente, sino que necesita un presentador pero es profesionalmente producida y sonido hechos. Si usted decide usar el programa le enviaré una copia gratuita de mi libro electrónico, “Cómo obtener un pie” O “que le ayudará con habilidades de presentación. Sólo tiene que escribir a email@example.com y por lo general usted recibirá una copia del mismo día.
Además … hay más información sobre este sitio de blogs sobre otros donación / trasplante temas. Además nos encantaría que te unas a nuestro grupo de Facebook, la Iniciativa de Trasplante de Órganos Cuantos más miembros que obtenemos mayor será nuestra influencia con los tomadores de decisiones.