Insurance Company Deems Emergency Operator's Oxygen Machine 'Non-Essential Medical Equipment'

Emergency 9-1-1 operators save lives – they're the first line of contact for thousands of Americans in emergency situations every day. A case in Fulton County, Georgia shows that one operator has found his own life in peril thanks to the heartless decisions of his health insurance company.


9-1-1 dispatcher Larry Peel has both chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and emphysema, which is why he needs to have an oxygen machine at all times. To deal with his chronic breathing problems, Peel keeps a small portable tank that he can carry with him on his commute to work.

Unfortunately, his insurer Kaiser Permanente recently decided that this portable unit is “non-essential medical equipment” and took it away. Peel protested the decision to the State Insurance Commissioner, which caused the company to return the portable unit to him – and take away his larger home unit. Now Peel has to lug around a new “portable” machine that weighs 29 pounds and does not have a long cord, meaning it is considerably less than truly “portable.”

"It's like they want me to fail," Peel says. "They're coming up with these alternatives, and they're not feasible alternatives. I don't want to be homebound. I want to continue to work. I don't want to be a welfare case.”

Click here to watch WSFB's video report on Peel.

Peel has set up a GoFundMe account to raise the $6,000 necessary to obtain a truly portable oxygen concentrator. You can donate here.

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