For me, one of the most frustrating aspects of living with Cerebral Palsy is dealing with health insurance. I am constantly frustrated that a team of presumably non-disabled bureaucrats are the ones who decide what I need and don’t need. Sometimes, I wish I could have them live a day in my shoes. Back in March of this year, I finally received my new power wheelchair after a year and a half of waiting.
My health insurance denied the chair in its entirety at first. However, with more substantial letters of medical necessity from my team at Boston Children’s Hospital, they eventually approved the chair. I was relieved when I received that news in the mail. Letters of medical necessity have to be very detailed and precise for insurance to approve anything. For me, this meant showing how a manual wheelchair and other pieces of equipment wouldn’t meet my needs. My insurance, however, denied the seat elevation function on my new power wheelchair because they deemed it not to be “medically necessary.” Sure, I don’t need the seat elevator to survive or to prevent health complications. However, the seat elevator helps maximize my independence and allows me to enjoy activities more.
From a practical standpoint, I utilize the seat elevation function to help me accomplish tasks such as brushing my teeth and reaching high cabinets in the kitchen of my apartment or filling up a glass of water. In fact, one of the first things I did in my new chair was poured myself a glass of water. It was a relief not having to worry about my balance. This function has also proven beneficial when I am in science classes and doing a lab.
When it comes to enjoying leisure time, I use my seat elevator to be at eye level with my friends and family. It feels good not to strain my neck to talk with people when I am in my chair. Before the pandemic, this function made trips to the arcade more enjoyable for me as well. I was able to play air hockey with a friend on my own because I could reach the table.
I want health insurance professionals to know that disabled people deserve to live life to the fullest like any other person. Just because someone may not need something for medical reasons doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t have access to something that could enhance the quality of their life.