Facts

Young girl with hearing aidClick here to download a printable .pdf fact sheet

What is the Legislation?

Representative Edward Lindsey has introduced HB74 – the Hearing Aid Coverage for Children Act, which would require insurance companies to provide coverage for children’s hearing aids in our state, in the 2013 legislative session.

Who will Benefit from this Legislation?

Georgia’s Hard of Hearing Children

  • Hearing loss is among the most prevalent birth defects in America affecting 1.1 per 1000 children aged 3-10 years in the metro Atlanta area.[1]
  • Approximately 2,000 children in Georgia are candidates for hearing aids but do not qualify for Medicaid (Medicaid covers hearing aids for children who are eligible)[2]
  • Hearing aids can cost $6,000 per pair and must be replaced every 3-5 years. This is an expense of over $40K by the time a child reaches age 21.  Only 16% of parents surveyed were able to secure some level of hearing aid coverage through private health insurance.[3]
  • Without access to clear sound, these children fall behind drastically in terms of literacy and language development, academics, and the ability to contribute as a productive citizen. [4]
  • With hearing aids, children can reach their fullest potential. They are able to do anything a hearing child can do with the right amplification and early intervention.

Georgia’s Educational System and Economy

  • Children who do not receive early intervention for hearing loss cost schools an additional $420K and are faced with overall lifetime costs of $1 million in special education, lost wages, and health complications.[5]
  • However, with appropriate early intervention, children with hearing loss can be mainstreamed in regular elementary and secondary education classrooms offsetting the above costs.
  • There is a documented correlation between untreated hearing loss and unemployment.[6]
  • Untreated hearing loss results in a loss of household income of up to $30K per year, and this has a negative economic impact in Georgia due to unrealized taxes.[7]

Why Should I Support this Legislation?

Georgia was an early adopter for universal newborn hearing screening in 1999, but lack of access to hearing aids represents a major gap.  Today, 20 other states have passed laws requiring insurance companies to cover hearing aids for children including NC, TN, OK, KY, AR and LA. Many of these states were not supportive of insurance mandates in general but made an exception because of the financial implications this legislation had in their state compared to the low premium increases required to offset the cost (we estimate $.38 per insured citizen). Over 1,800 signatures have been gathered in Georgia illustrating that this is something that is important to our citizens. This legislation will improve both the lives of our children and Georgia’s economy and educational system.

  

References


[1] CDC-MMWR Serious Hearing Impairment Among Children Aged 3-10 Years – Atlanta, Georgia, 1991-1993. MMWR 46(45); 1073-1076 Date: 11/14/1997.

[2] 2,489,727 children under 18 (US Census) x 1.4 per 1,000 hearing loss incidence (UNHS Department); this is a conservative estimate as 1-3% hearing loss frequently cited.  Children’s Defense Fund 2011 Report for Georgia cites 41% as number of GA children on Medicaid.  Keep in mind, all children identified with hearing loss will not require hearing aids. Some will not require any aids; others may only need one; and still others may only use hearing aids for a short time prior to receiving a cochlear implant. For purposes of documenting calculations with have used maximum estimates and are therefore highly conservative.  In addition, many larger companies have private contracts with insurance companies and are exempt from any insurance mandates.

[3] AG Bell Volta Voices March/April 2002.

[4] Kochkin S, et al. Are 1 Million Dependents with Hearing Loss in America Being Left Behind? Hearing Review. September, 2007: pp. 1-2, 4-6, 9-11.

[5] White, Karl R and Maxon, Antonia B. Universal screening for infant hearing impairment: simple, beneficial, and presently justified.

[6] Kochkin S, et al.  The Impact of Untreated Hearing Loss on Household Income May 2007: p2, 6, 11.

[7] 5Better Hearing Institute.  Hearing Aid Assistance Tax Credit.

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