The beauty of the underdog

I partner with people who are affected by disabilities as a way to make change. Our mission at UsersFirst includes making positive policy changes to increase access to the most appropriate (clinically recommended) mobility equipment. We want to increase access to good wheelchairs.

I want to see that change happen.I want to change the system. I guess UsersFirst is David and the insurance system is Goliath.

Quite a few years ago I began to feel frustrated with the system after witnessing clients—whom I respected and liked—go home with substandard equipment. Years later they are still facing additional barriers, not because of their disability, but because of barriers inadvertently placed in their way by the system.

The system is a system. It is not a person, and it does not care. Yes, the system is made up of individuals who I am sure mean no harm, yet are far removed from the realities of living with a disability. The “system people” follow the policies and guidelines made by the policymakers (Congress and healthcare executives).

The system really is Goliath.

Like David, UsersFirst is an underdog. We don’t have expensive lobbyists whispering in the ears of politicians while playing golf on some exotic island, or the budget to flood the airways with compelling commercials.

As an underdog, we have nothing to lose, so why not go for it? What’s the worst that could happen? Failure? We are already failing. Each time a fellow human is unable to access clinically recommended mobility equipment, to live the life she or he chooses, we fail.

I guess I was more comfortable with giving my all to UsersFirst and failing than I was acquiescing to the system. I didn’t feel like I had a choice—either work within the system and risk imploding or challenge the status quo and risk failure (which is actually the fear of looking foolish, stupid or being ridiculed). If that that makes me a misfit, well, I’ll own it.

The odds are against the underdog, and yet underdogs are still willing to show up and participate. That’s why it can be an exciting story. In this sense, failing is an advantage. Since underdogs are familiar with failure, the fear of failure is less likely to stop them.

UsersFirst’s tag line is, “push for more.” We believe in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and many other pieces of disability legislation that mandate equal access to our society.

We “push for more” because there is no policy language regarding access to a wheelchair. If we do not continue to unite our voices and push for policies that increase access to good wheelchairs then all the curb cuts, accessible buildings, and parking are for naught. We are all underdogs.

As mentioned earlier, insurance entities are systems that do not “care” if your clients are able to live their lives independently. What they care about their bottom line.

We have a different bottom line.

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