You own it, you pay for it!

You had best watch out, your insurance company is up to no good.

I wear a nasal mask connected to an oxygen concentrator when I sleep, breathing 6 liters of oxygen. (I think it’s 6 liters per minute, but just my luck it is a different measurement.) It’s not a “must-have”, and I can miss a few nights. A few years ago I didn’t use it for ten nights in a row while I was on vacation. But it sure does help my batteries recharge, and after about three nights without it, I sure can feel it.

Needless to say, when this thing breaks down, it breaks down during the middle of the night. When else would it, since I don’t use it during the day? And when it goes on the blink, it doesn’t just shut down… it activates a buzzer that stays on until the machine is reset, fixed, or turned off. I’m sure that it is set up that way for anyone who needs their oxygen 24/7 so I can’t really complain, but when you just need it for a little while it can be irritating.

So my concentrator broke down last week. I know a few “tricks” that can usually fix it – press the reset button, wash the filters (they get washed once a week anyway, a buzzer just gets them an extra wash) and sometimes just turn it off and wait a few seconds does the trick. But not this time.

So I make a phone call to the company that rents and maintains the machine; and they look up the records. No problem, we’ll be out tomorrow, and your fee will be $150.

Fee? What fee?

Your father owns these concentrators, and we charge a $75 per concentrator fee for a repair call. And that is just the repair call. Parts and labor will be figured out once the machines are serviced.

Oh, be assured that my father was thrilled to hear that. So we did some investigating. His insurance did originally pay the rent on the concentrators. But after a period of time (usually a year) the insurance company decides that the concentrators have lost some of their value through depreciation. And when that happens, they just buy the machines outright, and transfer them into your name… and never mention it to you. So when it eventually comes time to have them repaired, surprise! Here’s a bill!

And we couldn’t do anything about it. There was never a question of changing the insurance company’s mind – like that’s going to happen – but my father used to work at a textile mill. As time passed, the mill was purchased, mis-managed, and eventually closed. So there is no mill, no insurance company, no customer service or Human Relations Department to fuss at… all that is left is an empty building. I guess I could kick the building, but that probably wouldn’t accomplish very much.

The original insurance plan was great. An unmarried child of an employee was covered from the time he or she was born until they turned 21 or graduated college, whichever came last. And if the child was disabled, they were covered for as long as the employee was covered under the group policy. (In other words, had a job there) That insurance plan paid for the bulk of three heart operations, hospital time, drugs, and Lord knows what else, so I am very thankful for it. But transferring the concentrators without our knowledge just didn’t seem to be quite on the up-and-up.

So the only thing I can recommend to you is to read that policy. Reread it… often.

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