Columbus – Today in the Senate Insurance Committee, State Senator Edna Brown (D-Toledo) testified in support of Senate Bill 93, which would require insurance companies in Ohio to offer coverage for hearing aids and related services as a rider to basic health plans. Across the United States, 36 million Americans suffer from a loss of hearing.

“Studies have shown that untreated hearing loss is extremely detrimental for both children and adults,” said Senator Brown. “SB 93 will help Ohio families receive the much needed treatments for hearing loss that they are currently unable to afford.”

Currently, many insurance plans in Ohio consider hearing aids an elective form of treatment and do not cover them as part of basic health coverage. Without coverage, the out of pocket costs for hearing aids can easily reach thousands of dollars. Hearing aids can treat the most common forms of hearing loss, and Senator Brown aims to make their wide-reaching benefits accessible for all.

The Ohio Department of Health reports 83 out of every 1000 children suffer from educationally significant hearing loss. Without proper intervention, hearing loss costs the education system $11,000 per affected child, according to a 2003 study by the American Institutes for Research in the Behavioral Sciences. This report found that special education programs for children with hearing loss cost the United States $652 million between 1999 and 2000.

“Given the prevalence of hearing loss, I believe it is time to take action. Let’s give Ohioans the resources they need to properly treat this medical condition, which is far too often ignored,” Senator Brown said.

Sixteen states currently require hearing aid insurance coverage for youth. Four additional states require coverage for both adults and children. Coverage requirements vary by state depending on age, dollar amount of coverage, benefit period, and provider qualifications.

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