Legislation seeks to help fund hearing aids for children

Posted at 9:05 PM, Jan 18, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-18 23:09:15-05

Having a baby is an exciting experience, but it can be incredibly overwhelming to find out your baby is diagnosed with hearing loss. 

Many parents are shocked to realize that hearing aids are not covered under private insurance in Idaho.

Idaho is one of more than a dozen states that doesn't require private health care insurance providers to cover pediatric hearing aids.

The cost runs around 6,000 dollars a set and that does not include all of the maintenance, batteries, new molds, and much more.

There are around 800 kids in Idaho who don’t qualify for Medicaid (which covers hearing aids). Many families said they often times have to choose between basic necessities and getting the medical device their child needs. 

“I actually have clients currently right now that do not have and hearing aids available to them and cannot afford them so their child is going with out,” explained insurance agent and parent to a child with hearing loss Michelle Wilson.

While there are some grants available, they said many times they don’t cover the full cost, and often times they take time that is precious to get approved to those who are diagnosed.

“There are studies that have shown that if we do not have some kind of intervention by 6 months of age, that child is likely to have delays by first grade,” explained audiologist and parent Jessica Stich-Hennen.

Representative Ilana Rubel of Boise wrote a legislative draft to close the loophole so Idaho insurers would have to cover medically necessary child hearing aids and services that go along with it. 

“It seems surprising to me that if something like this happened to any other part of your body it would be covered. Why would your ears not be covered. It just seems surprising and strange and unfortunate and something I really hope we can fix,” said Representative Rubel. 

Now she is seeking a co-sponsor for the bill to hopefully pass the legislation.