February 12, 2013

Take Action to Improve Hearing Aid Coverage for Illinois Families


Do you or someone you know wear hearing aids (or needs too)? Did you know that the majority of private health insurance plans have little or no hearing aid coverage (they consider hearing aids cosmetic)?

In Illinois, this could hopefully change soon! Bills have been introduced in the Illinois General Assembly that would mandate health insurance to cover up to $2500 per ear every 3 years for individuals of any age. This is wonderful and if passed will NOT have a significant impact on insurance cost/premiums. In my opinion it is the right thing to do! I believe no individual who needs hearing aids and wants them should be denied them simply because they do not have the money to afford them!

Illinois residents, please visit this link to learn more and to sign the petition! Let your State Senator and Representative now that everyone in Illinois who needs hearing aids and wants them should have access to them!

There are so many families who have private health insurance who do not qualify for the state programs that help purchase hearing aids for children and/or who have children who have aged out of Early Intervention (at age 3) who no longer have access to any help covering the enormous cost of hearing aids -- which can easily range from $2,000 to $3,000 per ear and often need replacing every 3 to 5 years (sometimes sooner depending on if their has been a change in hearing, etc.)

We were fortunate that when Ethan got his first set of hearing aids at 4 months of age, that we qualified for assistance through DSCC (Division of Specialized Care for Children) and they covered the entire cost of the hearing aids and earmolds since our insurance had at that time no hearing aid coverage. Since then we no longer qualify, due to Jeff's raise at work (which we PRAISE the Lord for) but that left us in sort of a bind. Thankfully, since Ethan has not yet turned 3, Early Intervention (EI) has been able to cover his earmold and hearing aid costs -- and covered his new pair of hearing aids because the old ones where no longer strong enough for the loss that he now has. Our private insurance now has very limited hearing aid coverage -- so limited that you can only select from these online "hearing aid in a box" type distributors who don't even offer pediatric hearing aids, so we are VERY THANKFUL that EI has been able to cover the cost, since we just simply don't have and extra $5,000 sitting around for hearing aids!

Illinois and nearly every state have enacted newborn hearing screenings because they recognize the importance of identify children with hearing loss so that parents can make an informed decision about the communication mode that they will use and also because often hearing loss can be a symptom of a more significant health issue that may need identified and addressed, etc. So, it just makes sense, to me at least, that if states are saying that it is important to identify children who might benefit from hearing aids, that we make sure that all children and individuals have equal access to them!

Additionally, I believe in the long run this will SAVE the state of Illinois money. If private insurances will cover the bulk of the cost of hearing aids, families like ours (who have private insurance but don't have the financial ability to pay $5,000 out of pocket every 3 to 5 years for hearing aids -- particularly if this is just one of your child's health issues) will not have to seek state/government programs to help with this cost because the private insurance that we pay for will simply do what they should be doing already -- cover the cost of them!  

Hearing aids are not cosmetic and should be covered by private health insurance companies! If you live in Illinois, please show your support and spread the word!  




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