Many Medicare recipients are in such poor physical shape as to not necessarily be aware of any measures to treat their specific conditions. This is not only sad, but it is a situation ripe for the picking for unscrupulous service providers to bilk the Medicare system of millions of dollars, either by billing for services not rendered or using substandard, less expensive equipment.
As a case in point, I will relate a personal experience. Recently, I was prescribed round-the-clock oxygen treatment. The company providing the treatment had all the necessary equipment dutifully delivered to and set up in my home. They delivered oxygen tanks and the carts to move them around, as well as the regulators to dispense the vital oxygen in the prescribed amounts. Additionally, a concentrator was sent out to provide oxygen while I slept so I wouldn’t have to mess with oxygen tanks throughout the night.
The company providing all the necessary equipment did so in a very professional and adequate fashion as far as I could tell. It promptly replaced any used oxygen tanks or other essentials quickly; by simply making a phone call, the necessary replacement was replaced and refurbished within short order.
With the concentrator, I was given a reconditioned model but was assured it worked equally as well as a brand new concentrator. Not knowing anything different, I was OK with that. After a period of time, the concentrator was paid for through the insurance and the concentrator was mine to keep. That is known as the rent-to-own program.
When I was told that the concentrator was mine after a period of usage, I asked the providing company when they were going to bring out the new unit. There was a lengthy silence on the other end of the phone before the answer came back that the unit I had was the unit I was going to keep. I replied that the insurance company had been charged for new concentrator and that the providing company had an hour to get the new, paid-for unit out to my home or I would arrange a meeting between the state insurance department, the insurance company, myself and the medical supply company to resolve the matter.
After another quiet moment on the other end of the phone, the providing company said it would have the new unit out to my house within the hour and it was. I returned unused bottles of oxygen to the company and was told there was no credit given for returned unused bottles as they were medical equipment, and although the seal on the bottles had not been removed or altered in any way, the bottles had to be drained and refilled. No credit was given for that reason. I know full well those bottles were just put back on the shelf and sold to someone else later, but I have no way of confirming that. The cart and the regulator were not given back as there was no credit for those items either so I kept them rather than allowing the company a chance to sell them to some other person.
Had I not been in a condition to challenge the medical equipment company, heaven knows what other shyster business practices they would have pulled on me.
I am the first person to want to limit government, but in cases such as mine, there should be policies and practices to ensure that costs are not exceeded by unscrupulous company practices that could deal the death blow to those in dire need.
Larry Wilson is a 50-year resident of Sparks and a retired elementary school teacher. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.