I have initiated a complaint against Apria Healthcare and wish to share the composition of my complaint in the hope that other consumers might find it useful. This is the beginning of my "paper trail" which will either lead to a settlement with Apria or Small Claims Court. I am a retired professional from the California Department of Consumer Affairs.
Sacramento, CA 95833
Pers Care Anthem Blue Cross
P.O. Box 60007
Los Angeles, CA 90060-0007
Attn: Ms. Xxxxxx xxxxx
September 18, 2016
Dear Ms. xxxxxx,
Thank you for taking my calls on September 15th and 16, 2016 and for examining my complaint against Apria Healthcare.
Summary of this Complaint
Up to December 31, 2015, I was using a BIPAP durable home medical device supplied by Apria Healthcare and paid for in full by my insurer at the time, Blue Shield of California (this insurance plan provided to me by the California Public Employees Retirement System [PERS]). Because Blue Shield of California was no longer available to PERS annuitants after 2015, my wife and I switched to Pers Care Anthem Blue Cross, beginning in January 1, 2016. I did not learn until May, 2016, that the conditions by which Apria provided my BIPAP had changed. I was told by Apria that I had to provide them direct access to my Golden 1 Visa card. Apria began making charges without notifying me. Getting Apria to respond was quite difficult, and the explanations for the charges made varied each time I called them.
On September 15th, I contacted Pers Care Anthem Blue Cross and spoke to Ms. Xxxxx xxxxxx. She informed me that the charges made by Apria Healthcare to my credit card account on the BIPAP , $616.24 to date, accrued no equity and were merely for a rental. This was a complete surprise to me. At the rate I was paying, my charges for the BIPAP rental would be $821.00 for the year. This last summer I checked online for the retail price of the BIPAP, ResMed Aircurve 10, and learned it costs about $1500.00 new. This means that my payments to Apria to rent my BIPAP over the five year expected life span would total $4108.00. This represents a nearly 300% profit for Apria (considering extra profits from accessories and buying bulk at a wholesale price from manufacturers). And of course, I would at no point own the BIPAP or have equity in it.
Had I been fully informed about the terms and conditions for my being supplied a BIPAP by Apria/Pers Care Anthem Blue Cross, I would never have agreed to such a contract and would have sought another supplier. Moreover, Apria’s terms and conditions have been
impossible for me to discover as I have been given multiple explanations for billing from multiple representatives from Apria.
I would be willing to pay a reasonable monthly fee for use of the BIPAP provided by Apria, this determined by the price Apria paid for the item divided by its five year useful life and an additional REASONABLE profit. I would then either switch to a CPAP machine, which Ms. Garcia informs me is an installment program (my decision would depend on price and terms), or I would buy my own CPAP or BIPAP and discontinue utilizing Apria’s services. By my calculation, the $548.24 I have already paid to Apria this year is more than a reasonable rental value, hence I would be due a refund. (A medical device costing $1500.00 and lasting five years would yield a basic monthly rate of $25.00, or $300.00 for the year, not including a fair profit and interest.)
This does not mean I would be satisfied by having to pay for health benefits that were previously covered by available PERS plans, and I would pursue this matter further with PERS.
In March ,2010, after an examination and follow-up sleep study, Axxx xxxx, D.O.,with Dignity Health/Mercy Medical Group, gave me a prescription for a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) home medical device. My insurer at that time was Blue Shield of California, which directed me to Apria Healthcare, 1450 Expo Parkway, Sacramento, CA 95933 to pick up a CPAP machine. This device was effective in treating my sleep apnea and was provided at no charge. Similarly, associated accessories such as sleep masks, hoses and filters were provided to me at no charge.
I use the CAPA every night. In November, 2015, I noticed that my CPAP began making noises associated with mechanical wear, and the Apria representative at Expo Parkway advised me that it was time for a new device. According to Apria, my personal physician, Dxxxx xxxx, M.D. wrote a prescription for a BIPAP (an upgraded form of CPAP) on November 5, 2015.
I had made several calls to Apria for appointments and never received a return call. Since my machine was failing, I simply went to the Apria office on Expo Parkway in Sacramento on Friday, November 20, 2015. The situation at the Apria office was chaotic, and many customers were waiting for extended periods and disgruntled. After some time I was able to talk to the Apria clerk and turn in my old CPAP equipment. I was issued a BIPAP. I was told the technician was not available to calibrate my machine. I recall I was told that there were instructions for this “on the net”. I found a Web site that did have step by step instructions for calibrating the BIPAP, and I called Dr. xxxx for information on
recommended settings on the machine.
As of December 31, 2015, Blue Shield was no longer available to my wife and me, who are Public Employees Retirement System Annuitants, and we enrolled in PERS Care Anthem Blue Cross, beginning in 2016. We did not receive medical cards for several months. Some time in May, 2016, Apria informed me that I would now have to pay a $14.00 per month deductible fee for my BIPAP. Apria also insisted on being able to directly charge my Golden 1 Visa card in order for me to continue to use my BIPAP. Without a CPAP or BIPAP, I stop breathing 50-100 times per night, according to my sleep study. I had little choice in this matter and was told I had to pay for the months of Blue Cross coverage up to May, 2016, this reflected in a charge of $48.82 on May 17, 2016.
On May 21, 2016, I was charged an additional $14.00 by Apria, which I was told was the normal monthly charge. On June 21st, I was charged another $14.00, which I assumed would occur monthly for the duration of my using the BIPAP.
On June 22, 2016 Apria charged $443.18 to my credit card account. I was dismayed and upon inquiry was told this was the “yearly deductible” that was required by PERS Care Anthem Blue Cross. My understanding was that these payments would occur until my payments equaled the cost of the BIPAP. After a brief online search I found that my BIPAP, a ResMed AirCurve 10 sells for about $1500.
On July 21 and August 22, 2016, Apria charged me $14.00, a monthly fee I regarded as a usual co-pay. However, on August 22, I also received a bill from PERS Care Anthem for $864.00 for “Health Services” from Apria. Since I had received no services from Apria other than using the BIPAP they provided in November, 2015, I made a call to PERS Care Anthem and spoke to Ms. XXXX XXXX. She was very helpful and informed me that I did not have to pay $864.00 for Apria “Health Services”. Subsequently, my Visa card was charged $68.24 by Apria for reasons unknown. I had received no notification and no bill.
Because of this, I have contacted my credit union, Golden 1, and registered a dispute complaint with XXXX, teller #78709, dispute number 107465, pending a settlement with Apria over its billing practices and terms for my use of the BIPAP.
Appendix: Widespread Complaints about Apria Healthcare
A cursory search of the Web indicates that my complaint about Apria Healthcare is far from rare. Thousands of complaints about Apria Healthcare can be found on the Web at the following sites: The Better Business Bureau BBB.org (903 complaints in the last year alone); PissedConsumer.com (757); ConsumerAffairs.com (the top 666 complaints about Apria Healthcare are listed ); complaint board.com (7); RipoffReport.com (30);
Scambook.com (1);HissingKitty.com (5); Gripeo.com (8); Yelp.com (16); Trustlink.org (7); firstname.lastname@example.org (4); and one particularly bitter consumer created a website
dedicated to Apria: www.apriasucks.com. Again, this is far from a thorough search.
California Department of Insurance
California Department of Public Health, Home Medical Device Retail License Division
State Of California Department of Justice, Office of the Attorney General
California Department of Consumer Affairs
Federal Trade Commission/Bureau of Consumer Protection
Product or Service Mentioned: Apria Cpap Machine Rental.
Reason of review: Pricing issue.
Monetary Loss: $316.
Apria Cons: Taking advantage of the elderly.