Can we hire this kid? Illinois passes bill requiring coverage for hearing aids for those under 18.

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Hunter Martin testifies for a bill requiring insurance coverage in Illinois for people 18 and under.

Good for Hunter Martin.

The guy knows how to get things done.

Hunter and his brother Owen Martin, ages 10 and 7 both wear hearing aids. They live with their parents in Illiopolis, along with Hunter’s twin sister, Hannah, and Owen’s twin brother, Noah.

Up until now insurance companies refused to cover the cost of their hearing aids which can be as expensive at $6,000 a pair.

I know this because I spent nearly that much for mine.

But Hunter (Remember. He’s 10) decided he could do something and launched a lobbying campaign for hearing aid coverage. Earlier this month both chambers of the Illinois legislature unanimously passed a bill, now waiting for Governor Rauner’s signature, to require insurance coverage of the cost of hearing aids for those with hearing loss and are under the age of 18.

Hunter’s parents are both educators. His mom is a social worker at Douglas School in Springfield, and his dad is a history teacher at Sangamon Valley Middle School in Illiopolis.  They have good insurance. Their plans do not cover hearing aids.

Those of us who are retirees need to sit down with Hunter and learn what he has learned from lobbying the legislature to address the concerns of those with hearing loss.

The insurance companies opposed the legislation, of course.

Good for the legislature for ignoring the insurance companies for a change.

Here is my question:

Hearing loss and hearing aids are not cosmetic and are needed by people of all ages.

Why not universal coverage, requiring insurance companies to cover everyone who needs a hearing aid?

Maybe we need to hire Hunter as our lobbyist.

 

6 Replies to “Can we hire this kid? Illinois passes bill requiring coverage for hearing aids for those under 18.”

  1. Good idea, but I would also want a provision that limits the profits of the providers that scalp us on those devices (an average cost of $2,500 per single hearing aid)

  2. A good bill, for a change! &–is that Rep. Laura Fine sitting on his left?
    (She is always behind/sponsors pro-people healthcare/insurance bills.)

    1. Maybe she can sponsor a bill that requires insurance companies to cover hearing aids for all of those with hearing loss, including those over 65. It’s not covered by Medicare.

  3. As a teacher whose hearing is failing due to 30+ years of listening to shrill little voices yelling in the halls, lunchroom, and outside, I think hearing loss should be covered under workman’s comp if you work in a school. Why are the little blue pills covered by insurance, but not hearing aids? Hearing is essential, while the other is not. Yes, I realize some would disagree.

  4. Hearing aids are a big, big high-profit industry. Prices range from the “$39.95 and get a second one free just pay a separate handling fee” late night TV models to the high quality models at $3000 per side, total $6000.
    One of my friends showed me his 39.95 model, it reminded me of the 6-transistor pocket radios of the 1960s. You point the microphone side towards the sound you want to hear. It has a little earbud connected by a wire. It would have been state of the art 50 years ago. It has problems, it is difficult to carry around all day. It is directional, if it is pointed forward, it doesn’t pick up to the right, left, or behind the user very well. It doesn’t have automatic volume control, so if a loud noise occurs near the user, it blasts the noise into the users ears, and makes screeching, howling feedback noises that I could hear from about 10 feet away. Meanwhile, I get calls and letters every few days from hearing aid salespeople every couple weeks explaining their high quality hearing aids, and the features that are improvements over the low cost models. They are small, the entire hearing aid is the size of an earbud, or smaller. They hear in the same direction as the ear they are in. They have automatic volume control, so loud noises are instantly lowered, then turned back up as soon as the loud noise stops. They have anti-feedback features that prevent feedback screeching and howling. In addition, (now it gets really interesting) they are frequency programmable. Each person can lose hearing at different frequency levels, across their entire hearing range. Across the board amplification makes some frequencies too loud, and others not loud enough. By testing a persons hearing at each pitch, they can custom program the hearing aid to amplify each one to get exactly back to normal hearing. By giving an extra boost to the exact frequencies needed, it clears up pronunciations of people speaking. They are good quality hearing aids. They also are about $6000 a pair. Unaffordable for me. Unaffordable for most of us. I would bet insurance companies could get them for half that amount or even less.
    If we can get insurance to cover hearing aids, minimum standards for quality of the hearing aids should be required. Otherwise insurance will try to stick us with the $39.95 quality level.

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