AUGUSTA, MAINE — A state legislator in Maine has proposed that the state require insurance plans cover hearing aids for people of all ages. Representative Jim Handy, a Democrat from Lewiston, proposed a bill in which insurers would be required to pay up to $3,000 per hearing aid to those that need them.
The bill, which unanimously passed the Insurance and Financial Affairs Committee this week, would expand hearing aid coverage requirements in the state beyond the current $1,400 per aid coverage currently mandated for those 18 years of age and younger.
According to Handy, experts have estimated such a mandate would cost less than 47 cents per month per policy to provide the new coverage.
Optimism and Worries Over Possible New Mandate
The business community in Maine has expressed reservations over any new mandate, due to the concerns over ongoing challenges businesses are facing with paying current healthcare premiums.
Supporters, however, have pointed to the connection between untreated hearing loss and health outcomes. Additionally, with many people delaying retirement, greater access to hearing loss treatment should be prioritized so that people have the opportunity to work longer without communication barriers.
“Insurance coverage is not keeping pace with what we are discovering about the impact of hearing loss on an individual’s health… If there was a pill that was approved for use that could help prevent these conditions, there’s no way it wouldn’t be covered by insurance.” –Rep. Jim Handy, D-Lewiston
Representative Heidi Brooks, also from Lewiston and a member of the Insurance and Financial Affairs committee, reported that the members of the committee found the arguments for including hearing aids “persuasive” and that it doesn’t make sense why some medical conditions are covered by insurance but hearing loss is not.
Source: Sun Journal