Rant On - DME providers - The full story
Let me preface this with a brief (and calm), explanation:
I provide this rant for understanding and commiseration. I hope you can get something out of it to take to your DME to get them to provide BETTER service and maximize your outcome.
RANT ON (WARNING... VERY LONG)
Time line: September through late November 2014
Visited Dr. who referred me to Sleep Dr..
Sleep Dr. wanted me to have a sleep study.
Hospital study was refused by insurance, so I was set up with a home study.
Home study returned with MILD Apnea (AHI 5.5). But since I have many other complications, I was given a prescription for an APAP.
Time Line: Fast forward to late December on my way to vacation.
Schedule an appointment with DME (Durable Medical Equipment), provider referred to me by the Sleep Dr. And the technician. (Not a random choice. It seems that the technician had a hook up with them. But wait it gets better).
I opted to wait until January (January 13th) to get my machine from the DME provider, so that I could start a fresh year on my deductible ($1500). I asked for a temporary rental. Was given a machine and I was on my way to my 2 plus week vacation from just before Christmas to New Years.
First stop was Pittsburgh to meet up with friends. I used the CPAP rental machine the first night. I awoke at 4AM in severe pain only to discover that the machine was a BiPAP rather than an APAP, (I hadn't realized that at the DME). I was in such bad shape, I nearly stopped breathing. ER was looming large and I was not able to breathe because I was producing drainage faster than I could drain it. I tried to sleep sitting up in a chair to no avail. Fortunately, as a last ditch effort, I grabbed some Claritin which helped me get some sleep. Since I got to "sleep" at 4:00 AM and had over 1000 miles to drive, I needed to extend my stay in Pittsburgh an extra night. Needless to say I discontinued use of the BiPAP.
Being just before Christmas, calling the DME, I arranged to swap out the machine with the correct one, once I arrived at my destination in Florida, after Christmas. I called the DME and the technician offered an apology and a replacement APAP machine for the erroneous BiPAP. NOTE: Same technician that gave me the BiPAP.
Followed by a call about 3 days later asking why I returned my machine (HUH. You, The DME, offered the replacement). They mentioned that the Tech, (that provided the BiPAP and the APAP), had been fired days before, (supposedly unrelated), and refunded my $130 rental fee for the temporary machine. (That didn't even cover the inconvenience.)
Timeline: January 13th
Not wanting to fault the DME company for the bad time with the BiPAP, I scheduled my initial setup for January 13th. The earliest that I could get. I got limited instructional use of the machine from a new technician, (which you all helped me figure out, THANK YOU), and a mask picked by the DME supplier. Results were ok. I began my treatment and was getting better sleep. I was provided with the supply schedule and told that the DME would call me to remind me in 30 days (Minimum between supplies).
Timeline: Around February 13th
No call for several days before or after so I called them. I was shipped the first batch of supplies. Nose pillow for the Opus 360 mask and some white paper filters to go in the back of the machine.
Timeline: Around March 13th
No call for several days before or after so I called them. All supplies got lost in the mail and I had to call back to ask them to trace or ship a new set of supplies. Mind you, this DME is in the same metro area as I live so shipping from one post office to another is standard operating procedure. I could have driven about 20 miles round trip to pick the supplies up if I could get there during 9AM to 5PM business hours. No Saturdays. I work so that isn't happening. Just ship them already. Trace proved fruitful as they arrived the next day. Only a week late, March 18th. My 30 day supply schedule is slipping LOTS here.
Timeline: Around April 18th
No call, text, email. Nothing. They are too lax for me. I put a trigger into my calendar to remind myself. This is my 3rd month so I am supposed to receive a new mask MINUS the head strap, new hose, and the white filters and nose pillow. I inform them that the head strap wore out and I needed to get a new one. Cost to me $25. They don't do whole new masks. What? The whole mask is one heck of a lot cheaper than the parts. Who are they zooming?
Meanwhile, I am paying as I go because the DME doesn't want to be out too much cash and the Insurance is getting billed THREE times for each item. And the paperwork is ALL messed up, (I for one compage Explanation of Benefits, EOB, with the bills). I spent HOURS on the phone between the DME and the insurance company. I even called the PRESIDENT of the Insurance company, (got Voice Mail), and he politely called me back. I called the DME to get the paperwork put through, (this time via eMail of scanned documents). It seems that the DME was messing up BIG TIME. (BTW, they never billed for one of the components on the ORIGINAL order).
Timeline: Around May 18th
This is the LAST straw. I have not heard from the jokers at the DME except when I owe them money. I called them to order my supplies. I have an appointment for my 3 month review on May 29th.
Timeline: Around May 29th
See Sleep Dr. All is well from my compliance and the number are better but not perfect. I discussed all of what you see in the RANT above with the Dr. and ask if I can change DMEs. I have "HAD IT" with the issues. Dr. says sure. And gives me a HINT of what to do to RETURN the DME to the supplier and rent from another supplier. I confirm that the new supplier is covered by the insurance. But for some reason the Dr.'s Technician is bent out of shape and claims I cannot do what I planned. I believe she has an ulterior motive, namely $$$. I am determined and unswayed by the technician. Dr. says see you in 1 year.
I called and related this ENTIRE story to the Insurance company and let them know what I was planning. The answer from them was "go right ahead". They don't need 3 bills each month and certainly want happy patients/customers.
Just last week I finally got the billing straight with the ORIGINAL DME.
Today I returned the APAP to the ORIGINAL DME and this afternoon I have an appointment with the NEW DME.
BTW, I met with the NEW DME 1 month before I met with my Sleep Dr. The reason for that was to try out the AirFit A10 mask, (on the forum's suggestion). I was so happy with the NEW DME that I started this process. The match with their service first policy, hours of operation (til 6pm M-F and Saturday from 10am-3pm), courteousness, and prices, have made a customer for life. I also paid cash for an A10 on the spot. That's how impressed I was with the NEW DME.
Please feel free to comment. PM me for names of DME Suppliers etc. I would like everyone I know to avoid all of this mess.
Thanks for reading this far,
P.S. NEW DME does 3 month supplies all at once with a NEW MASK, (including strap), under my insurance. They provide 5 nasal pillows for 3 months because the new masks come with 3 (They trade for your correct size), and they provide the other 2 on the monthly cycle.