What your insurance covers is very dependent on the plan you have and the state you live in. When it comes to buying hearing aids, most states’ health insurance companies do not cover hearing aids. At the very minimum, of the few states that do cover hearing aids, they only cover the expenses for children. As of now, only 23 states cover partial or the total amount of expense of hearing aids for children. A study done by Sergei Kochkin, PhD in 2008, found that 35 million Americans had some type of hearing impairment; by 2025 this number is projected to be over 40 million people. Individual states are taking making hearing care and instrument affordable into their own hands.
Let’s take a look at what Nebraska, California, and Ohio legislations are doing -
Nebraska: An article from 10 11 NOW states, “less than one percent of children are born deaf or hard of hearing. Hearing aids range up to $6000, and need to be replaced every four years or so.” Starting January 2020, the state of Nebraska passed a bill that demands insurance to cover hearing aids for children, those 18 and under. The law titled, LB15- Adopt the Children of Nebraska Hearing Aid Act, will end up covering $3000 per every 4 years.
California: California is one state that does not call for insurance companies to cover the cost of hearing aids. Los Angeles, CBS reports that “it’s estimated that only one in 10 families have private insurance that has a policy that covers hearing aids”. The bill, AB598, if enacted, would order insurance companies to cover the cost of hearing aids. Unlike Nebraska, right now the California bill would cover the total cost of hearing aids. More information about the timeline of this bill will be available in early 2020.
Ohio: Like the other two states, Ohio is pushing for insurance companies to cover the cost of hearing aids. House Bill 243 would call for all state insurance plans to offset $2500 over a four-year time period for individuals under the age of 21. Ohio has taken a personal approach the bill, “[the bill is] named after ‘Madeline’s Law’ for Madeline Rohlin, a young girl from Shaker Heights who was diagnosed with hearing loss at age 2. Her mother, Nadia Greenhalgh-Stanley, said ‘it was a big shock to find out we’re going to have to pay $4,000 out of pocket for Madeline’s hearing aid” (limaohio.com). Greenhalgh-Stanley grew upset when insurance companies were requiring her to file the expenses as a cosmetic device, “the insurance company treated it the same as Botox, which she called ‘shocking and appalling’” (limaohio.com). There is no set date for when the bill is supposed to be enacted.
Hopefully, as the importance of hearing, the need for audiologist and hearing care professionals, and proper hearing instruments are becoming more relevant. Those who need these services will not only have them accessible for them but also in a cost-efficient manner.