Hearing loss is one of the most common birth defects according to the March of Dimes. Approximately 3-4 in 1,000 babies are born with permanent hearing loss. Idaho does not require insurance companies to cover hearing aids and cochlear implants.
House representative Ilana Rubel wants to change that by passing a bill that will help kids get necessary devices and speech therapy.
Adam Bair’s daughter, Emma, was diagnosed with progressive hearing loss.
“She can hear like at the level of a lawnmower or higher, her hearing aids amplify all of the sounds around her to that level. So she can process that sound,” says Bair.
Kids develop speech early so hearing is very critical.
“While they’re developing speech, those first three years if they don’t hear those sounds they won’t develop those sounds so it puts them behind in their speech development,” says Dr. Brent Clayson, Audiologist at Regional Hearing and Balance Center in Idaho Falls.
But a lot of times insurance doesn’t cover speech therapy and if it does, not fully.
“Most insurance companies cover about 20 visits a year. The rate that they’re going through speech therapy with Emma we’ll be done with our covered by insurance speech visits in the middle of February,” says Bair.
“The thing about health insurance is, it’s the difference between being able to afford it and not being able to afford it. The cost of hearing aid, even when we go through and try to make things as cheap as possible the cost of a hearing aid is about 15,000 dollars. If you don’t have 15,000 dollars you just can’t afford it,” says Dr. Clayson.
Which is why one state representative wants to make a change.
“If insurance provides that service and we were able to pass that legislation and get other medically necessary services and not put a cap on those it would actually help children who don’t have great insurance and allow them to be better in school,” says Bair.
There are 22 states that have pediatric hearing-aid legislation and 16 have this law in progress.