Do you know a child with hearing loss — perhaps someone like 10-year-old Hunter Martin? The Illinois boy is among the nearly 15% of U.S. children who have a hearing impairment. Fortunately, Hunter got the hearing help he needed. And now he’s become an advocate for other hearing-impaired children, even testifying before the Illinois Senate Insurance Committee in favor of a state law requiring health insurers to cover hearing aids for kids.
“I was three months old when I first got my hearing aids,” he hold the committee. “If I have to go to school without them, I feel like the volume on the school is turned down all the way. I get upset when I have to keep asking people to repeat what they are saying. I feel like I am bothering them. And I feel left out when I don’t hear what other kids hear.”
The efforts of Hunter and others paid off. On August 22, 2018, Illinois became the 23rd state requiring health insurers to pay for a child’s prescribed hearing aids, plus related services, subject to any applicable copayments, co-insurance, deductibles and other policy terms.
Other states with mandated coverage include Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin. Details such as ages covered, amount of coverage and benefit period will vary by state.
In states without a mandate, insurance companies may choose to provide some form of hearing aid coverage for children.
The profound impact of hearing loss on children
The growing focus on childhood hearing healthcare stems, in large part, from the recognition of what can happen when hearing loss goes untreated. According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), untreated hearing loss in children can lead to:
- Delayed speech and language skills
- Learning problems in school
- Feeling bad about themselves
- Having trouble making friends
Click here to learn more about the negative consequences of hearing loss in children.
Recognizing and responding to childhood hearing loss
Hearing loss in children may not always be obvious. Following are some of the more common signs that a child is struggling to hear:
- Turning up the TV or radio volume too loud for others
- Replying inappropriately to questions
- Not responding when his or her name is called
- Experiencing trouble with schoolwork or with behavior in the classroom
- Complaining of ear pain or noises in the head
- Frequently asking teachers and others to repeat themselves
- Delayed speech development
If you have a child (or know of one) who has hearing loss, Amplifon Hearing Health Care can help you take advantage of any hearing aid coverage that may be available through your health insurer. Call 877-846-7074 for assistance. You may also request an appointment with a hearing healthcare provider who’s qualified to treat children.