Senator Edna Brown

Senator Edna Brown

COLUMBUS—The Ohio legislature is considering a bill that would make Ohio only the fourth state in the nation to require health insurance companies to include hearing aids as part of their basic health coverage for people of all ages.

Seventeen states require that health insurance benefits plans pay for hearing aids for children, but only three, relatively small, states–Arkansas, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island—require that adults be provided with hearing aid coverage.

The bill, SB 257, was introduced by State Sen. Edna Brown, a Democrat from Toledo, and has five co-sponsors. It would provide coverage of up to $1500 per ear over a three-year period. That amount would be applied to the hearing aids themselves, and also to related expenses, such as hearing assessments and hearing aid fittings and adjustments.

At an initial hearing on the bill held February 4 by the State Senate’s Insurance and Financial Institutions Committee, Brown said, “Given the prevalence of hearing loss, the inability of many families to receive proper treatment, and the negative impacts of untreated hearing loss in children and adults, I believe it is time to take action and give Ohioans the resources they need to properly treat this medical condition that is far too often ignored.”

She added, “The out-of-pocket costs for hearing aids easily reach into the thousands of dollars, and for many families, these costs represent a significant portion of their household income or are simply outside of their financial means altogether.”