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We've all heard the expression, If you're going to do it, do it right the first time. This proves especially true when buying power wheelchair performance upgrades – that is, if you're going to purchase high-speed motors or high-end electronics, do so at the time of original order, not down the road, and save yourself a ton of money and potential complications.

See, when you purchase an upgrade at the time of order, you're essentially getting a credit for the standard components you're replacing, so the “upcharge” is less than if you bought the upgraded component separately at a later date. For example, on a given power wheelchair model, the electronics upgrade at the time of order is $700 (as you're credited for the cost of the standard electronics). However, if the electronics upgrade is purchased down the road as parts, the same upgrade equates to $1,500 due to the fact that you're buying components as replacement parts, paying full price (and, in effect, you've really purchased two complete component sets, the standard components, then the upgraded components). Therefore, because you're “substituting” upgrade components at the time of original order, you save money over upgrading at a later date. You might say, by buying now, you save a lot later.

Another aspect to recognize is that the component cost isn't the only reason why upgrading at the time of original order is preferable over upgrading at a later date. When upgrading components like motors and electronics, there's often aspects like harnessing and software involved, as well as disassembly and reassembly of the power wheelchair. These are involved, labor-intensive processes, and while skilled providers can accomplish them, it's a much more practical, detailed, cost-effective install when built at the factory as original equipment on the power wheelchair than when reworked by a provider later.

Understandably, consumers sometimes accept standard components funded by insurance, with the plan of upgrading later out-of-pocket. Again, this is generally a poor economic route, dramatically increasing the upgrade cost and complexity down the road. Most insurers, including Medicare, allow the consumer to pay for upgrades out-of-pocket at the time of order – which is the wisest time to do it.

While power wheelchair upgrades can be costly, foresight is a valuable tool, where saving up money prior to ordering your new power wheelchair can allow you to get the upgrades that you wish, at the lowest price, with the most convenience – that is, at the time of order.

Related Article
Using Medicare's ABN Toward Mobility Funding

Published 10/2010, Copyright 2010,