Resources for People
Who Can't Afford Hearing Aids and Cochlear Implants
by Paula Rosenthal, J.D.
Hearing loss affects millions
of people worldwide. It touches every demographic group, affecting the
young, the aged, the wealthy, the poor and people from all ethnic
backgrounds. With an accurate hearing assessment and proper fitting by an
audiologist, hearing aids can offer many people with hearing loss a second
chance. For those who do not gain significant benefit from hearing aids, a
cochlear implant may be an option. Once aided, they may be able to
effectively participate in educational, social and professional settings.
In the United States, many health insurance carriers
cover eyeglasses. Unfortunately, hearing aids are not typically covered. A
cochlear implant device and its surgical operation are sometimes covered.
With prices ranging from $600 for an analog hearing aid and more than
$4000 for digital, hearing aids are financially out of reach for many
families. Cochlear implant surgery and equipment ranges from $40,000 to
$50,000. Due to their high costs, some people struggle without any device
or accept hearing aids that don't offer significant benefit. As a result,
adults are often isolated from friends and colleagues, forced to change
jobs and are unable to easily pursue further educational and professional
training. For infants and young children, the impact of unaffordability
can be devastating to the development of their speech and language.
Without appropriate access to sounds and speech, they will have great
difficulty with comprehension and learning to talk.
Results of a hearing aid insurance poll taken in March
2001 by the Listen
Up web site revealed some disturbing facts and comments among its
participants. Eleven percent of the adults polled were doing without
hearing aids in one or both ears because of the cost. Of the 96 children
in the poll, 99% had health insurance coverage, but only 16% had their
hearing aid costs covered by a private health insurance plan. One parent
commented, "Our son went a very long time--about 3 years--with
hearing aids that provided little or no benefit to him. We didn't have the
means to purchase appropriate aids without the help of insurance…"
View the complete results of this poll at http://www.listen-up.org/poll.htm.
If you are unable to afford hearing aids for yourself or
your child or are a cochlear implant candidate and your insurance won't
cover it, view the resources below to learn about funding sources that may
be able to assist you. No one should be without an appropriate device that
can help him hear and participate fully in his community. Remember these
important tips when pursuing financial assistance:
1. Be diligent and follow up regularly.
2. Be prepared to show significant financial need.
3. Document medical and professional need.
4. Keep records of all inquiries and replies.
Hear Now, the U.S. program of
the Hearing Foundation, provides hearing aids to adults and children who
are legal residents of the US, meet the financial criteria and are
approved for assistance. Hear Now is an organization of last resort; all
other options for service must be used before Hear Now benefit is
approved. Contact Hear Now at 1-800-648-4327, by fax at 952-828-6946 or by
mail at 6700 Washington Avenue S, Eden Prairie, MN 55344. (TTY number and
web site are not currently available.)
State Vocational Rehabilitation Programs
- If you need a hearing aid or similar device to help you perform your job
or obtain employment, contact your local state vocational rehabilitation
office. Click here for listings: http://www.parac.org/svrp.html
Northwest Lions Foundation for Sight & Hearing – offers a hearing
aid bank and serves the Northwest region of the U.S. Contact them at:
901 Boren Avenue, Suite 810, Seattle, WA 98104-3534, phone (206) 682-8500
or (800) 847-5786, web site http://www.lshfoundation.org/
Visit these comprehensive listings for additional
sources of financial assistance.
Sources of Hearing Aid and Cochlear Implant Funding http://www.listen-up.org/haidfund.htm
Funding Sources http://www.focusonhearing.org/funding.htm
Hearing loss can have lifelong effects on children and adults. Hearing
aids, cochlear implants and other assistive technology are available.
Their high cost prevents many people from receiving them and can result in
feelings of isolation, frustration and depression. If you know someone who
needs financial assistance so they can hear, direct them to these
resources that are available. It can make a significant difference in
their lives both personally and professionally.
Rosenthal, J.D. is married and a mother of two young
children. She, her husband and daughter are all hearing
impaired. Her son has normal hearing. Paula is the founder
and publisher of http://www.HearingExchange.com,
an online community of resources and support for people
with hearing loss, parents of deaf and hard of hearing
children and professionals who work with them. Subscribe
to HearingExchange News and any of the other free
newsletters available at http://lb.bcentral.com/ex/manage/subscriberprefs?customerid=6181
© Copyright Paula Rosenthal, 2001. All rights reserved.
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