“Good news! Your claim has been approved!” Errr … sort of. Local wheelchair user Samantha Freeman, 24, felt a rush of adrenaline upon seeing the subject line of a morning email from Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield, knowing that it must be in reference to her long-awaited new power wheelchair. Her excitement, however, was short lived upon learning that Empire had only approved one tire on the entire chair. Said Freeman, “I mean, people insist all the time that they don’t even see the wheelchair. Except this time, it won’t be bullshit. It will be true because, well, there’s not much to see. A lone tire.”
Freeman’s current chair is sputtering its last breath and is not expected to last beyond the next couple months. Despite the current chair’s looming demise, the Empire representative that took Freeman’s frantic call is confident that the single authorized tire will not only meet all of Freeman’s needs but will also serve as an innovative model for the future of mobility. The representative, whose only experience with mobility equipment is her cousin’s friend’s brother who once broke his leg, mused, “Sure, the one tire will do the job. Isn’t a seat kind of overdoing it anyways? Besides, I didn’t think those people went out much.”
The representative, who asked to be identified only as Miss M. for the purpose of reducing company transparency, encouraged Freeman to use her imagination if she found herself longing for frivolous extras, like a motor and a base. “If you close your eyes, have a positive attitude and make some ‘beep beep’ sounds like your annoying neighbor Carl, it will almost be like you’re moving!” Miss M. said, inviting Freeman to take a brief satisfaction survey after being on hold for two hours prior to their conversation.
When reached for comment, Empire CEO Chris Sunnywood stated that the elimination of unnecessary wheelchair parts is an exciting element of the new Subscriber Wellness Program, expertly designed without the input of any disabled folks. The goal of the Subscriber Wellness Program is simple, said an excited Sunnywood. “Through the provision of lone tires, which we like to think of as efficiency models, we envision a future in which those with lifelong neuromuscular disabilities follow the unsolicited advice of local church ladies and give walking a sincere try.”
While Sunnywood could not comment on Freeman’s specific case, citing privacy laws, he emphasized that Empire “cares deeply for the health of its subscribers” and “thinks of its so-called disabled enrollees as limited only by their attitudes.”
Freeman, while distraught, was unsurprised by the decision on her claim and even found a hidden silver lining. “Well,” she sighed, “at least Martha at the grocery store will stop asking ‘how fast that thing goes’ because I won’t be moving at all.”