Ohio Dem wants insurers to cover hearing aids

By MARC KOVAC @ohiocapitalblog C-N Capital Bureau Published:

COLUMBUS -- A Democratic state lawmaker wants health insurers to be required to cover hearing aids.

Sen. Edna Brown (D-Toledo) offered SB 257 to help a growing number of hearing impaired resident cover the costs of the devices and related care.

"... Many insurance plans consider hearing aids as elective forms of treatment and do not cover them as part of basic health coverage," Brown told members of the chamber's Insurance and Financial Institutions Committee Tuesday, where the bill had a first hearing. "The out-of-pocket costs for hearing aids easily reaches into the thousands of dollars, and for many families, these costs represent a significant portion of their household income or are simply outside of their financial means altogether."

The proposed law change would cap coverage of hearing aids at $1,500 per ear over a three-year period.

That would include hearing assessments, fittings, adjustments and related expenses.

Brown cited studies estimating that 36 million people in the United States suffer hearing loss, including about 20 percent of Ohioans. Many skip treatment altogether due to the cost, she said.

"Given the prevalence of hearing loss, the inability of many families to receive proper treatment and the negative impacts of untreated hearing loss in children and adults, I believe it is time for Ohio to join the 20 other states that provide coverage for hearing aid devices and related services through standard insurance plans," Brown said.

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