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Fri Jul 27, 2018, 02:07 AM

Breathing by Permission

My portable oxygen concentrator gave up the ghost a few weeks ago. Just quit working altogether. Provider picked it up and left me with a supply of tanks, after giving me a rather stern lecture about new Medicare rules that limit how many tanks I can have on hand. Anyway, today I called and asked if there's an ETA for the portable machine, and he said the factory had determined that the innards were completely fried. So, I'm on the list to get a new one "as soon as one becomes available."

Being the curious type, I had to ask what that meant, and was more than a little amazed when he told me that demand is far outpacing supply; they're making them as fast as they can, but there's a huge waiting list. Then he told me that it could be as long as six months! I commented that the delay could put a crimp in any travel plans (conventional oxygen tanks are not allowed on planes), and he told me that I could always rent a machine -- but he also made it clear that Medicare would NOT cover the rental, and fees for that go $75-250/week.

Meanwhile, I've presently got a mixed supply of tanks, different sizes ranging from wine-bottle size to small watermelon size. And they took my two larger tanks that I'd kept in reserve in case of a power outage; I'll get them back only when I get the new machine. Kinda hard to keep up with the rule changes. It's a common problem; most of the people in my pulmonary rehab group are having similar experiences. What's harder is learning to accept that the provision of my medical needs is now being determined by accountants instead of medical professionals.

Are we greater, yet?



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Arrow 17 replies Author Time Post
Reply Breathing by Permission (Original post)
madamesilverspurs Jul 2018 OP
PoindexterOglethorpe Jul 2018 #1
Hugin Jul 2018 #3
PoindexterOglethorpe Jul 2018 #7
cyclonefence Jul 2018 #13
Hugin Jul 2018 #2
SemiHalfling Jul 2018 #4
KT2000 Jul 2018 #5
Hamlette Jul 2018 #6
madamesilverspurs Jul 2018 #15
Hamlette Jul 2018 #16
Scarsdale Jul 2018 #8
PatSeg Jul 2018 #9
spinbaby Jul 2018 #10
lapfog_1 Jul 2018 #11
handmade34 Jul 2018 #12
cyclonefence Jul 2018 #14
frogmarch Jul 2018 #17

Response to madamesilverspurs (Original post)

Fri Jul 27, 2018, 03:05 AM

1. Oh, dear.

I want to learn more about the fact that demand for oxygen tanks is far outpacing the supply. Why? Why do so many people need oxygen tanks? What has changed to make this happen?

And no matter what the answers are (although I really do want to know the answers) no one who needs an oxygen tank should be deprived of same. And alas, you should have learned a long time ago that accountants determine your medical needs, not medical professionals.

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Response to PoindexterOglethorpe (Reply #1)

Fri Jul 27, 2018, 03:15 AM

3. It's not the tanks, it's the oxygen concentrator machines.

They have a membrane in them which separates the O2 in the air from the nitrogen which makes up the majority of the atmospheric gas.

I believe it works because oxygen is a smaller molecule. Sort of how a reverse osmosis system purifies water.

The problem with tanks is they're like batteries, once they run out... They run out and the user is dependent on someone bringing them another tank.

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Response to Hugin (Reply #3)

Fri Jul 27, 2018, 04:30 AM

7. The OP seems to have conflated oxygen tanks with oxygen concentrator machines.

Which is probably why I'm confused.

I know that oxygen tanks only hold a limited amount of oxygen, and need to be replaced when the oxygen runs out. Can the oxygen concentrator machines work longer? Or not as long?

It does seem terrible that this is an issue.

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Response to PoindexterOglethorpe (Reply #7)

Fri Jul 27, 2018, 08:02 AM

13. OP isn't conflating anything

An oxygen concentrator "makes" oxygen by running air through a, well, a concentrator. There's no limit to its capacity because it isn't a matter of capacity but a matter of taking air and getting the oxygen out and to your lungs.

Oxygen tanks are tanks full of oxygen. After you breathe in all the oxygen in the tank, it's no use to you at all. The concentrator never "runs out" of oxygen unless there's no more air in the room.

A portable oxygen concentrator is one you can carry around with you so that you always have oxygen available--until the machine itself fails. Until you can get a new one, you have to use tanks of oxygen, which do run out.

I hope this helps--until I started using a concentrator myself I was unaware of their existence. They are a boon to those of us who are lung-impaired.

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Response to madamesilverspurs (Original post)

Fri Jul 27, 2018, 03:10 AM

2. Wall Street has turned breathing into a commodity.

Interesting the machines seem to be available for rent, but, not to buy.

My Mom had similar problems.

I hope they get on the ball for you. I'm sorry you're having these issues.

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Response to madamesilverspurs (Original post)

Fri Jul 27, 2018, 03:26 AM

4. And I thought I had it bad, it's appalling how basic functions are commoditized

When do economics professionals start making room in their models for normal human life instead of hoarding money?

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Response to SemiHalfling (Reply #4)

Fri Jul 27, 2018, 03:36 AM

5. +100

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Response to madamesilverspurs (Original post)

Fri Jul 27, 2018, 03:44 AM

6. I have used oxygen concentrators for 17 years

for the first 16 years I used them for blowing glass. Now I need them for sleep. What pisses the hell out of me is how Medicare payment is set up. Medicare pays $100 per month to rent a stationary oxy/con but they only cost $500-600 to buy. You can also get a great used one for far less than that. (That's a 5 lpm, if you need a 10 or 15 they are more expensive.) And, when you die? The company Medicare uses doesn't want them back.

My mom and a friend of a friend died. We called the number on the machine and they said they didn't want them back (oddly, same city but different companies) so they came to me for glass blowing. About once every 2 years I have to take them in for new filters (when the buzzer goes off) at a cost of $85.00.

So, if Medicare is buying them, somewhere along the way they (we) are getting ripped off.

Portable oxy/cons are a different matter. They coast $2500 for the best on the market. I just bought one when Medicare gave me pushback. So I thought all oxy/cons for medical use cost that much. When I found out the real price, and how much Medicare pays, I was pissed. (For craft use, you buy a used one that has been "modified". I honestly think the only modification is they have clipped the wire that goes to the battery that rings the damned buzzer telling you your machine needs service.)

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Response to Hamlette (Reply #6)

Sat Jul 28, 2018, 12:25 AM

15. Crazy.

I did lampworking for about 30 years, and never knew concentrators existed until I had to go on oxygen. And being on oxygen (along with a very noticeable loss of feeling in my hands) meant I could no longer do that work. When I finally accepted that I was permanently "retired" from that field I started parting out supplies and equipment to other shops, and was amazed to discover that they were using concentrators. And here I'd been wrestling around those big green tanks for decades!

Meanwhile, still waiting. And waiting.


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Response to madamesilverspurs (Reply #15)

Sat Jul 28, 2018, 07:28 PM

16. wow! lampworking 30 years ago, you were a pioneer.

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Response to madamesilverspurs (Original post)

Fri Jul 27, 2018, 05:07 AM

8. Meanwhile,

the orange mistake in the WH has control of BILLIONS of taxpayer $$$, to spend as he sees fit. Military parades, bailouts for farmers after he has screwed them and others over with his stupid decisions on tariffs. The gop is ready to give the wealthiest among us another tax break. What a country, eh? "Best medical treatment in the world" IF you are either a politician or wealthy. When will people demand universal healthcare like other CIVILIZED countries?

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Response to madamesilverspurs (Original post)

Fri Jul 27, 2018, 05:27 AM

9. Perhaps you should call your doctor

This does not sound right at all. A reputable company should be able to supply you with a regular oxygen concentrator while you wait for the portable one. Some of these companies are making a killing off of Medicare. I've dealt with three of them and two of them were pretty sleazy. This last one seems okay so far, but I don't trust them.

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Response to madamesilverspurs (Original post)

Fri Jul 27, 2018, 05:49 AM

10. Same sort of thing going on with CPAPs

Used to be you got a new one every five years. Now they won’t replace your CPAP until it goes bad. Replacement, of course, takes time. Breathing while sleeping is apparently not vital.

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Response to madamesilverspurs (Original post)

Fri Jul 27, 2018, 05:55 AM

11. so I have this idea for a different type of oxygen concentrator

that doesn't depend on filters.

Someone here smarter than me can tell me that it's either a) impossible or b) impracticable

We need three elements... a battery or electrical source, a fuel cell, and a regenerative fuel cell

The fuel cell combines Hydrogen and Oxygen to produce water plus electricity
The regenerative fuel cell takes water plus electricity to produce hydrogen and oxygen

For the first reaction we use oxygen from the atmosphere (air) plus hydrogen from the second reaction
The second reaction uses stored water (taken from the first reaction plus storage) and provides the oxygen to the user and hydrogen to the first reaction
The battery is needed because this is not a perpetual motion (infinite reaction) system... the electricity from the first reaction will not be sufficient to completely power the second reaction.

So... battery... and refill the water tank occasionally.

Fuel cells of both types exist... the rest is just plumbing and wiring. Don't know if the volume of pure oxygen generated from such a system would be sufficient to meet the needs of both portability and cost (fuel cells aren't cheap). Haven't worked out the math of the size of the battery or fuel cells required.

The result of such a system is one where oxygen is taken from the atmosphere and combined with hydrogen to form water... water is essentially electrolyzied at low temperature and low pressure to make pure oxygen for the consumer plus the hydrogen that goes back into the system to make more water (instead of bleeding it off into the atmosphere).

random thought.

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Response to madamesilverspurs (Original post)

Fri Jul 27, 2018, 06:27 AM

12. so much is so wrong right now...

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Response to madamesilverspurs (Original post)

Fri Jul 27, 2018, 08:10 AM

14. Ebay has some

used brand name ones, and some new ones from companies I've never heard of for around $400. It might make sense to buy a used one for around $150 or a new no-name for $400 rather than rent.

I don't have a portable one, just the big machine to use at home, and I paid $60/month to rent it until I went to ebay and bought a used one for $600. I've had it for ten years with no problems.

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Response to madamesilverspurs (Original post)

Sat Jul 28, 2018, 08:34 PM

17. My husband is on oxygen too, and

he advised you to call Medicare and tell them that your provider won't give you a concentrator to replace the one that's no longer working and that you were told you might have to wait 6 months for a new one. Fill Medicare in on everything else you described here. Ask Medicare what you can do. When my husband's provider stopped delivering small portable tanks on schedule, he changed providers. He now uses Apria.

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