"Common coverage limits we see are annual caps of $1,000, $2500 or $5,000," for prosthetic devices, which are often covered as durable medical equipment, said Dan Ignaszewski, director of government relations for the nonprofit Amputee Coalition.
Coverage limits may help patients get braces, crutches or limbs, but they don't touch the cost of newer devices which are now powered by microprocessors and made with sleek materials.
"As the devices have become higher functioning and more expensive, insurance coverage hasn't kept up," Ignaszewski explained.
Also, policies may limit coverage to a single prosthetic limb over the course of a lifetime. Lifetime limits are especially hard on children, who quickly outgrow their devices.
If patients don't have insurance or their plan doesn't fully cover the costs, the coalition has pledged to provide the first prosthetic leg for Boston victims. They just need a letter from their doctor attesting to the fact that they were hurt in the Boston attacks and describing the kind of device they need.
"There's no reason why every American amputee shouldn't be fully functional, except that some health insurance isn't willing to pay for it," said Kendra Calhoun, president of the Amputee Coalition.
While Calhoun said she was glad to see companies stepping in to help victims of the Boston attacks, she urged people not to forget the estimated 500 people who undergo amputation each day in the United States.
"Arms and legs are not luxuries," Calhoun said. "Medically necessary prosthetic devices should have the same insurance coverage as implantable devices like hips and pacemaker."
The U.S. Department of Defense and the VA recently completed a study that found five-year prosthetic costs to be as high as $450,000 for a patie
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