State-regulated health insurers may soon be required to cover hearing aids and cochlear implants for individuals under 21 years of age thanks to legislation sponsored by Senator Vince Polistina and approved today by the Senate Commerce Committee.
State-regulated health insurers may soon be required to cover hearing aids and cochlear implants for individuals under 21 years of age thanks to legislation sponsored by Sen. Vince Polistina and approved today by the Senate Commerce Committee. (Pixabay)
“No child or young adult should be left without access to medically necessary hearing aids, or in certain cases, cochlear implants,” said Polistina (R-2). “These devices are critical in treating hearing loss, and are especially important during the formative years when young people are developing the skills to effectively communicate. My legislation will make sure that insurance companies provide proper benefits and coverage so that everyone under 21 can reach their full development and potential.”
Polistina’s bill, S-2535, amends “Grace’s Law,” S-467, which was signed into law in 2008 by Acting Governor Richard Cody. Named in honor of Grace Gleba, who advocated for hearing-impaired children, “Grace’s Law” requires all health insurers in the State to provide coverage for medically-necessary hearing aids for children 15 years of age and younger.
S-2535 would expand the coverage of hearing aids to individuals 21 years of age and younger and require coverage for cochlear implants.
Polistina’s legislation was inspired by Francesco Maione, and his sister Maria, both of whom have cochlear implants.
“My sister and I use our cochlear implants in school, at home, and for basically every aspect of our lives. The only problem is that they are very expensive. While the insurance company may cover the cost of surgery for the initial implant, it typically does not cover the upkeep once the warranty of the device expires,” said Francesco. “It’s also a fight to get the insurance to reimburse you once you pay out of pocket. When my sister and I needed a new external implant, my parents had to open a credit card and pay $15,000—which is not easy for a family of six. This is the reason why cochlear implants should be fully covered by insurance for everyone under 21.”