A SC bill would require health insurance companies to cover the cost of hearing aids

Bill requires insurance to cover hearing aids
Published: Jan. 11, 2023 at 6:04 PM EST
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GREENVILLE, S.C. (FOX Carolina) - A SC bill would require health insurance companies to cover the cost of hearing aids

Sharon Ramsey says without assistance her 18-year-old daughter, Emily, can’t hear much.

“She wouldn’t hear the leaves on the trees or rain,” Sharon Ramsey said. “That was one of the first things she noticed when she had the hearing aids.”

At the age of four Emily was diagnosed with moderate hearing loss.

“There would be times when I was surrounded by friends and family, but I couldn’t really understand what was going on,” Emily Ramsey said. “It’s very isolating.”

Thanks to hearing aids she can interact with others and participate in school. But these devices are not cheap.

“The last hearing set for Emily was about $4,500,” Sharon said.

In this case they were luckily, for the first time in their lives they had an insurance plan that covered part of that cost. But not for her other child Jacob.

“We tried to get him covered too and they said you only get one set, so they completely denied him,” Sharon said. “He has his original set from when he was 4.”

Sharon says her son is now 15 and still using a pediatric pair of hearing aids because they can’t afford the cost of a new one. A new state legislative bill could help change that. It would require insurance companies to pay up to $2,500 per hearing aid per individual. Audiologist Dr. Kristin Davis is the owner of Davis Audiology, which spans across three locations in the Upstate. She says some of her patients have delayed getting hearing aids due to the cost.

“Sometimes patients or parents have to make choices prioritizing where their finances are going to go,” Davis said.

She says this delay or absence of care can affect their health and livelihood.

“Their hearing levels won’t necessarily get worse, but their speech understanding absolutely can decline,” Davis said. “This overall can affect cognitive and educational outcomes and earning potential for young people.”

The bill would require health insurance to pay for the cost of replacing hearing aids every four years.

Emily is due for new hearing aids in the next year. She worries about the cost as she enters college and eventually a career. She says without the devices she can’t do much.

“I wouldn’t be able to work or go to school because I wouldn’t be able to hear anything,” Emily said. “So this is a big deal.”

Sen. Penry Gustafson from Kershaw County is one of the authors of the bill. She says she personally has hearing loss in her right ear. Due to costs she never got hearing aids until the age of 40.

“I spent my whole childhood sitting in the front row, reading lips and just missing out on things.”

Gustafson doesn’t want other families to miss out due to cost. Right now the bill specifies people 26 and under for coverage, but Gustafon says that this bill should cover everyone and they plan to tweak that part of the bill.