Magazine article The Exceptional Parent

Equipment Exchange Programs

Magazine article The Exceptional Parent

Equipment Exchange Programs

Article excerpt

I've received letters from several readers with self-insured health insurance policies who reported limitations in their insurance coverage for durable medical equipment equipment intended for long-term use). Although I still cannot suggest a mechanism by which people can persuade health insurance companies to approve the purchase of durable medical equipment that is excluded from the contract, I am happy to report on a new way for parents in many states to locate inexpensive, used durable medical equipment.

In 1988, the federal government passed the Technology-Related Assistance for Individuals With Disabilities Act. That law, generally known as the "Tech Act," provided for the development of state programs to help consumers learn about and access disability-related technology. The Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America (RESNA) serves as the technical consultant for Tech Act programs. (See "State Assistive Technology Programs" in EXCEPTIONAL PARENT'S 1996 Resource Guide, January, for a state-by-state listing.

Each state's program is unique; however, most states offer certain basic services, including information and referral, assistance in obtaining funding for technological devices and opportunities for consumers to try out different types of equipment.

Now, according to RESNA, many Tech Act programs are also offering equipment exchange or recycling programs. Exchange programs match people who have agreed to sell or donate specific durable medical equipment with people who need such equipment. Available equipment--which may include wheelchairs, scooters, vans, wheelchair lifts, augmentative communication equipment, specialized computers, hospital beds, prosthetic devices, stair lifts, walkers and crutches--may be listed in a newsletter or on a BBS (a computerized bulletin board system accessible through a computer modem). Or the information may be accessed through a telephone call to the program office. Equipment usually remains in the owner's garage or basement until sold.

Equipment recycling program operate somewhat differently. In this case, the equipment is usually stored in a central location and may be refurbished before going to a new owner. Both new and used equipment may be available.

In some states, the Tech Act programs operate an exchange or recycling program directly In other states, programs are operated in cooperation with other organizations. Tech Act programs do not usually charge fees for listing items, although there may be a fee to have a photograph of the item displayed in a catalog of available equipment. Some Tech Act programs have certain restrictions, usually related to safety or liability issues, on equipment that may be listed. …

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