Making Hearing Aids Affordable to All
If your child broke an arm, you'd get a
cast put on. If your mother could no longer
walk, you'd get her a wheelchair. So why do
millions of people - both young and old - choose
not to wear hearing aids when they have hearing
Often, it's because they can't afford them.
"Many people don't realize that hearing aids are
not covered under Medicare, or under the vast majority of state mandated insurance
programs," says Dr. Sergei Kochkin, executive director of the Better Hearing Institute.
Private insurance plan sometimes cover them. But over 70 percent of hearing aid
purchases involve no third party payment, so consumers often bear the entire burden.
"Medicare, state insurance programs or private insurers cover canes and crutches and
often help people afford glasses, braces on their teeth, cosmetic surgery, Viagra for
better sex lives and other solutions to improve quality of life," says Kochkin, "but
hearing loss is like a neglected orphan in this health care system."
The average hearing aid costs $1800 and many people require two of them. While 95
percent of people with hearing loss can be helped with hearing aids, only 23 percent
currently use them, according to a study published in Hearing Review in July 2005.
If you look hard enough, it is sometimes possible to find financial aid to defray the costs,
according to Kochkin. He advises people to turn to state and local departments of social
services, fraternal organizations like the Kiwanis and Lions Club International, or one of
the other sources listed on the Better Hearing Institute Web site.
(, go to Resources/Financial Assistance)
Many advocates for people with hearing problems are pinning hopes on legislation now
working its way through both houses of Congress, the Hearing Aid Tax Credit Act
(H.R. 414 and S.1060). The bill would give a $500 tax credit to people who buy hearing
aids, if they are age 55 or older or are buying them for a dependent child. Identical
versions were introduced by Representative Jim Ryun (R-KS) and Senator Norm
Coleman (R-MN) in 2005.
Some say the bill is a good first step but much more needs to be done. "We support it,
but it's not nearly enough," says Brenda Battat, associate executive director of the
Hearing Loss Association of America, the nation's largest membership organization for
the hearing-impaired. "A lot of our members ask us, `Why does it help only people
who are 55 and older?' They are 40-something or younger, in the workplace, and they
also need help."
According to Kochkin, about 40 percent of people with hearing loss make less than
$30,000 a year. "A tax credit obviously isn't going to solve the cost problem completely
but at least it will make a dent." The tax credit bill has picked up a growing number of
sponsors in both houses of Congress but won't be voted on before the summer recess.
To find out more about this issue, log on to www.betterhearing.org and check out
Courtesy of ARA Content
Founded in 1973, t he 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 our 28 page booklet “Your Guide to Better Hearing” visit our website at www.betterhearing.org or call the Better Hearing Institute hotline at 1-800-EAR-WELL.
2005 Better Hearing Institute. BHI does not endorse specific products or companies.