Insurance law bill would mandate hearing aid coverage for minors

Health insurance is supposed to help cover medical costs, which is exactly what patients expect when seeking care. Unfortunately, many patients also expect to fight their insurance companies over necessary specialists, medications and medical equipment. A bill proposing a change to insurance law could make it easier for some Washington parents trying to secure coverage for their children.

Even though hearing aids are usually associated with the elderly, people of all ages need help hearing for any number of reasons. For example, children may need hearing aids for genetic conditions or even serious conditions that affect hearing. Unfortunately, private insurance companies do not care why children need help hearing, because they refuse to classify hearing aids for children as medically necessary.

Two Washington parents had to shell out over $6,000 when their insurance company refused to pay for their son’s hearing aids. They also had to cover the cost of a special device he uses at school, without which he cannot hear his teacher during class. The 5-year-old boy was born with a genetic condition that severely limits his hearing abilities, so he does not have the option to simply go without.

In Jan. 2020, lawmakers will consider a bill that would make a significant shift in insurance law. If passed into law, private insurance companies would be required to cover hearing aids for patients younger than 18. Until then, families still need to fight for coverage of medically necessary equipment. Since this is a daunting task it is usually best to seek help early on in the process.

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