Did you watch Secret Millionaire last night? I was nearly giddy with excitement when I learned that one of my favorite charitable organizations, Limbs for Life, was being featured. By providing a prosthesis to those who cannot afford one, this charity changes lives not only for the amputee but also for their community of friends and family.
many erroneously believe that Medicare will cover the cost of a
prosthesis when the amputee is financially drained. In reality, many
insurance plans (Medicare included) cap their costs at 80%. The
individual is responsible for coming up with the remaining 20%.
that a low-tech above knee prosthesis can run in excess of $15,000, the
amputee must pay $3,500 just for the "luxury" of being able to walk.
Assuming that the individual was able to secure the payment, the cycle
will need to be repeated in 3-5 years, which is the average life of a
prosthesis. Raising at least $3,500 every five years is a financial
burden that many are simply not able to assume. Many amputees are
bankrupt after the costs of the surgery, hospitalization, rehabilitation,
and missed work relegating obtaining a prosthesis to nothing more than
I become frustrated and depressed when I
think about all of my amputee peers who are living in a wheelchair or
using crutches simply because they don't have enough money in their bank
accounts to pay for the leg that they so desperately need. My friends
who have struggled to pay their 20% are often relying upon the same
device long after it has become antiquated and dangerous. I have seen
too many legs fixed with duct tape and super glue because the wearer
can't afford the necessary repairs. Some things simply should not be
dependent upon wealth--the ability to walk or use both arms being one of
I am lucky that my amputation falls under the
Workman's Comp umbrella. Although I have to fight for liners and
devices, I have yet to be denied a leg outright. The quagmire of
paperwork and court appearances that I manage is simple compared to
those who struggle to raise the sometimes unattainable 20% for the most
The volunteers at Limbs for Life work tirelessly to bridge
financial gap for amputees in this country. People from all over the
United States have received a prosthesis at no cost due to the efforts
of this group. These individuals have been able to ditch the crutches
and wheelchairs, many times enabling them to return to work and get off
SSI Disability. Despite their outreach, too many amputees are not
ambulatory because they can't afford it. Something must be done to
secure prosthetic devices for every amputee who wants one.
I've identified the problem. If I could only come up with a solution!