tax credits for hearing aids - a time which has come
Sergei Kochkin, Ph.D., Executive Director,
Better Hearing Institute, Alexandria, VA
According to the Better Hearing Institute's (BHI) most recent survey of 56,000 households 31.5 million Americans have hearing loss. Hearing loss affects 1 in 10 Americans and 1 in 4 households. While 95% of individuals with hearing loss could be successfully treated with hearing aids, only 23% currently use them. One of the barriers to hearing aid adoption is affordability; 2 out of 3 people ages 55 and above with hearing loss, report that affordability of hearing aids is a key reason for their inability to treat their hearing loss.
A recent bill in the house (HR 1646) if passed could assist up to 1.2 million children and 11.5 million Americans ages 55 and above in treating their hearing loss. These bills provide a tax credit of up to $500 per hearing aid, available once every 5 years, towards the purchase of such hearing aid, available to: 1) individuals age 55 and over, or 2) those purchasing a hearing aid for a dependent. If utilized this equates to approximately a price reduction of 25%-35% on the purchase of hearing aids. Hearing aids are not covered under Medicare, or under the vast majority of state mandated benefits. In fact, 73% of hearing aid purchases involve no third-party payments, placing the entire burden of the hearing aid purchase on the majority of consumers, according to our surveys of the hearing loss population.
Untreated, hearing loss can have many negative consequences. Those who struggle with hearing loss may be subject to subtle or even overt discrimination and be excluded from gatherings, conversations and meetings. The inability to communicate effectively can ultimately lead to frustration, anxiety, social isolation and depression.
Extensive research demonstrates that treatment with modern hearing aids bring measurable improvements in social, emotional, psychological, and physical well being, for both patients and their family members.
The good news is that, with treatment, those suffering even mild hearing loss can gain:
- Greater effectiveness on the job and better earning power. (An estimated 65% of people with hearing loss are younger than retirement age.)
- More participation in group activities like place of worship services.
- Improved interpersonal relationships, greater intimacy and a better sense of control in professional, social and family gatherings.
- For school age children, improved performance in school and better development of language skills.
The fact is that better hearing is a critical aspect of effective communication. Hearing is crucial to developing meaningful relationships and the ability to enjoy life, whether it is participating fully in a conversation between friends, or enjoying aesthetic pleasures like music, the leaves rustling in the wind, or the cooing of a child.
Better hearing helps you perform better, whether in business situations or engaging in hobbies or sports — all of life's activities that include a wealth of auditory cues and signals. Better hearing also gives you an enhanced sense of security, and is critical where safety is a concern — for instance when caring for young children.
A Call to Action
If you or a family member would like to benefit from a tax credit toward the purchase of hearing aids the best thing you can do is write a personal letter to your Congressman and Senators urging support for hearing aid tax credit legislation. The most effective letter would be one written in your own words describing your personal situation and your need for hearing aids. Make your voice heard now in support of this legislation by visiting www.hearingaidtaxcredit.org. This website is very easy to use in that you simply enter your name, address and zip code and it automatically sends letters to your Senators and Representative with a push of a button.
Discover a World of Better Hearing!
Founded in 1973, the Better Hearing Institute is a not-for-profit educational organization whose mission is to educate the public about hearing loss, its treatment and prevention. To receive a free copy of their 28 page booklet "Your Guide to Better Hearing" visit their website at www.betterhearing.org or call the Better Hearing Institute hotline at 1-800-EAR-WELL.
2008 Better Hearing Institute. BHI does not endorse specific products or companies.