Getting your wheelchair covered by Medicare

Working in DME (durable medical equipment) and getting items covered by insurances is a lot like purposely asking for 1,000 paper cuts. There is no degree that prepares one for medical supplies (I have a bachelors from the University of Washington in English with a minor in History).

We struggled for years fighting with doctors, patients and especially Medicare getting the necessary paperwork to get one’s wheelchair covered by insurance.  Even when you think you have everything, process the claim and get it paid, Medicare will come back with post-payment audits and can take their money back! What I learned in getting my college degree though is nothing is more valuable than doing your own first-person research on an individual area of study.

The Breezy Ultra 4 is our standard high-strength lightweight wheelchair we are currently using at Howards.
The Breezy Ultra 4 is our standard high-strength lightweight wheelchair we are currently using at Howards.

We have been in business now going on our second decade at Howard’s and we are very optimistic given the difficult environment CMS (i.e. Medicare) has us follow.  Some of the things Howard’s does to get our wheelchairs covered is we have a staff of four full-time team members devoted just to wheelchairs.  We have a team member (Alyssa) who is in our retail store daily to take all phone calls. We have two ATP’s (Daryl and myself) who do all fittings and build wheelchairs. Last, we have Aleah (my wife) who masters the LCD (local coverage determination or in Medicare’s words: their pages and pages of requirements for an individual item to be covered).

Unfortunately this is not the most efficient way of getting equipment into our patient’s hands.  A lot of time I dream of saving our government money but in life we have to play by the rules that our government gives us.

If you or one of your family members needs a wheelchair, give Howard’s a call 654-9899 and ask for a member in our wheelchair/rehab department.  We pride ourselves on staying up-to-date on the latest technology as well as the requirements for the equipment you need and deserve.

Erik Mickelson—ATP Howard’s Medical

What happens when you are sick or hurt?

Last year I came down with a terrible back injury and it has taken me almost 12 months to recover from it. I managed to herniate my L5/S1 disc.

No one plans on getting hurt or sick but

Here is the MRI of my herniated disc before it was repaired.
Here is the MRI of my herniated disc before it was repaired.

when it happens it is vital to have your team in place to help you recover.  In Yakima we have incredible doctors and therapists in this city to get you back on your feet. If something unexpected comes up and you need medical equipment  needs, whether  crutches, braces, nebulizer, or other items, the team at Howard’s Medical is here to help you offering two locations and delivery services for the entire valley.

The good news is after herniating my disc, I am finally healed!  Last year I did try: two rounds of physical therapy, chiropractic care, massage therapy, inversion tables, back and SI braces, etc. No two of us are the same when it comes to injuries which is why it is imperative you have a good team in place.  Howard’s is the medical supply/pharmacy to come alongside your other important team members if you ever find yourself injured or sick.

Here is hoping that your 2015 is filled with health and wellness,

Erik—Howard’s team lead

Yakima’s air

If you have to have a nebulizer treatment, might as well have a cool looking fish or dog!
If you have to have a nebulizer treatment, might as well have a cool looking fish or dog!

Winter and springtime can be a really difficult time for people with respiratory problems in the Yakima Valley as the air goes from stagnation to being filled with pollen.  At Howard’s Medical, we come alongside doctors by offering home oximetry testing which tests one’s oxygen saturation level as well as heart rate which is a great respiratory screening tool.

It is mid-February and my family has each already had the flu.  Our doctor in Selah told us that the flu is pretty much epidemic in the valley right now unfortunately.

So what does this mean? If you unfortunately need a home nebulizer, you can pick these up at either or Selah or Yakima store.  If you can’t come, give us a call at 654-9899 and we offer deliveries anywhere in the Yakima Valley.

If your doctor does order an oximetry test, we have to have a valid prescription on file for this.  These tests are a wonderful diagnostic tool and really helps him/her figure out how much of a respiratory problem one person may have.

Last, we also offer home and portable nebulizer units which dispense prescription medication.  For super active patients, a portable nebulizer if great because a child with asthma can get a treatment before soccer practice in the car as an example. For other young kids, we have kid-centric nebulizer units like a doggie-neb.

Looking for an operations team member

We have a job opening at Howard’s!


● Serve the customers of Howard’s Medical Supply by offering superior customer service and top quality medical supplies.

• Must be flexible, dependable, and have the ability to solve problems while on the go
• Communicate effectively with seniors, people of all ages and coworkers, smile and make people feel welcome; be willing to “go the extra mile”
• Must be competent with use of computers, email, and internet.
Responsibilities Include:
• Cleans and repair dirty equipment that comes back from rentals (estimate 20 hrs/week)
• Processes telephone orders by preparing patient paperwork
• Coordinates the delivery, set-up and pick-up of equipment, supplies and services with appropriate personnel
• Schedule appointments
• Helps load delivery vehicles in the warehouse picking orders
• Keeping an orderly warehouse
• Work as delivery technician delivering oxygen, hospital beds, wheelchairs and other medical equipment directly to patient’s home explaining how to use equipment (estimate 15 hrs/week) and be on-call on average one out of every 4-6 weeks (depending on the number of technicians we have on staff)
Education and/or experience:
• No experience necessary but recommended. Must be at least 18 years of age or older and be able to lift 50 pounds with valid driver’s license.

• 401k, Profit Sharing, Fitness Membership

● Flexible (30-40 hours/week) depending on customer traffic Monday-Friday. Work one Saturday whenever on-call each month.

*** If you are interested in this position please put Attn: Mr. Ferguson in the subject line. This way we know you are not a robot. If you do not have a resume or don’t know how to use email, Howard’s is not the right place for you to work because we love using technology at Howard’s! Last, when you send your email to us with your resume, we will email you back a few questions. You will have 48 hours to respond to these questions and from this, it will decide whether or not we call you or not for an interview.***

If this is something you are interested in, email your resume to “chad” “at” “howardsmedical” dot com.

We will be taking applications through February 28th.  If you see this post after that, feel free to email us your resume anyway as we always keep these on file if another job ever opens up.

2015 Insurance Deductibles

One of the first things everyone should do in the new year is spend five minutes calling their insurance asking what the requirements are for any of your prescription medications, verifying that your pharmacy, doctors, and durable medical equipment providers such as Howard’s are in-network and going over your current year deductibles so you can plan your cash flow. Taking these five minutes at the beginning of the year can spare yourselves hours and sometimes hundreds of dollars in out-of-network charges.

In 2015 the Medicare deductible is $147.00.  Other insurances have different deductibles and you need to be aware of where your requirements are.  With the Affordable Care Act, we have seen deductibles as high as $12,000 for a family plan.  This means that an individual must pay out-of-pocket expenses of $12,000 before any insurance kicks in if you fall into this category.

One more thing is just because you have a deductible, the regular insurance requirements for an item (valid prescription and justifying chart notes) usually need to accompany the order. As an example, you need PAP supplies such as a mask, headgear and tubing, when you come to Howard’s you will still need a valid prescription before picking up these items.  Some insurances also require a valid sleep study as well!  If you are confused or have any questions, give our store a call and we will walk you through the process. One of the advantages of doing business locally in the Yakima Valley is we are here to help you and walk you through the process.  We are here to call your doctor’s office for you to help you get the right paperwork so you can get the supplies you need to have a healthy and happy year.

Happy New Year from Howard’s Medical where we are looking forward to having our family serve your family’s healthcare needs in 2015.