PALATINE, Ill. — Amid a battle with his insurance company, a suburban man’s employer has purchased the robotic arm that helps feed him independently.
On Monday, Kevin Sullivan, 31, shared his story with WGN News over wanting to keep using the Obi, which is a robotic feeding device. Sullivan lives with a condition called arthrogryposis multiplex congenita (AMC) that affects his muscle tissue.
Growing up, Sullivan relied on his parents to help care for him. Now, home aides, whom he mostly has to pay out of pocket for, help with many tasks
He recently came across the Obi online and contacted the company for a demo.
“I’ve never fed myself before so just having that ability to do it even for an hour,” Sullivan told WGN News. “That day was pretty incredible.”
On the website, it lists Sullivan’s specific medical condition as a listed candidate for the $10,000 device. Around 10,000 Obi users have been reimbursed through private insurance.
So, Sullivan submitted a letter of medical necessity signed by his doctor and physical therapist to Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida in March.
His letter was denied right away from an office in South Carolina.
In the letter, the Obi was considered a “non-standard or deluxe, and is not a covered benefit.”
After seeing the story, Sullivan’s manager at the shipping company DAT wanted to help. She got the company to purchase the $9,700 device for Sullivan and it’s expected to arrive within two weeks.
“I’m honestly in shock. Legit speechless,” Sullivan said.
Now, Sullivan is contemplating the first meal he wants to eat independently with his new device.
“I’ve pondered this for the last few months. I’ve been trying to get Chipotle to sponsor my first meal on Twitter. No luck though, they haven’t replied,” Sullivan said. “I may have to pivot to a Chicago staple. That seems fitting.”
Prior to the story airing, Sullivan filed his second appeal with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida.