There is currently no mandate in the state of Mississippi for insurance companies to cover hearing aids for children. Early amplification and intervention are crucial for children who deaf or hard of hearing. The Joint Committee on Infant Hearing, as well as the Early Hearing Detection and Intervention Program in Mississippi, recommend intervention by 6 months of age for children diagnosed with hearing loss. However, hearing aids can cost as much as $6,000 per pair and must be replaced every 3-5 years. This is the equivalent of roughly $42,000 per child who requires hearing aids before they reach the age of 21 – a hardship for any family regardless of household income.
Please consider joining MSHA’s initiative to pass legislation in Mississippi that would require insurance companies to provide coverage for hearing aids and related services for children under 21 years of age.
- Hearing loss is among the most prevalent sensory defects screened for at birth in America affecting 1.4 per 1000 babies each year. According to 2017 EHDI-M data, approximately 54 infants born in Mississippi were documented as being diagnosed with permanent hearing loss. 
- While Medicaid covers the cost of hearing aids for children who qualify, many families who make slightly over the federal poverty level fall through the cracks of the system.
- Hearing aids can cost upwards of $6,000 per pair and typically must be replaced every 3-5 years. This is an expense of over $40K by the time a child reaches age 21. Only 16% of parents surveyed were able to secure some level of hearing aid coverage through private health insurance.
- If a child required bilateral hearing aids every 3-5 years, and insurance provided coverage at the current MS Medicaid reimbursement rate through the age of 21, the estimated total cost to insurance would be approximately $16,000-$25,600 per child.
- Without access to clear sound, these children fall behind drastically in terms of literacy and language development, academics, and ultimately the ability to contribute as productive citizens. 
- Children who do not receive early intervention for hearing loss cost schools an additional $420K and are faced with overall lifetime costs of $1 million in special education, lost wages, and health complications.
- However, with appropriate early intervention, children with hearing loss can be mainstreamed in regular elementary and secondary education classrooms offsetting the above costs.
- There is a documented correlation between untreated hearing loss and unemployment.
- Untreated hearing loss results in a loss of household income of up to $30K per year, and this has a negative economic impact due to unrealized taxes.
 CDC Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI) 2009 Survey. http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/hearingloss/research.html.
 EHDI-M Data Summary. 2017. https://msdh.ms.gov/msdhsite/_static/41,0,174,835.html
 AG Bell Volta Voices March/April 2002.
 Kochkin S, et al. Are 1 Million Dependents with Hearing Loss in America Being Left Behind? Hearing Review. September, 2007: pp. 1-2, 4-6, 9-11.
 White, Karl R and Maxon, Antonia B. Universal screening for infant hearing impairment: simple, beneficial, and presently justified.
 Kochkin S, et al. The Impact of Untreated Hearing Loss on Household Income May 2007: p2, 6, 11.
 Better Hearing Institute. Hearing Aid Assistance Tax Credit
Caiden Cox is a successful, smart, funny, personable and fun-loving 15-year-old boy. Although he is not defined by hearing loss, it is a part of his daily life.
Caiden was diagnosed and fitted with his first hearing aids at 2 years of age. Our world changed that day! Having the ability to hear things that he had never quite heard before seemed to awaken a part of Caiden that we had not known before that day. Since that day, he has amazed us with his strength and resilience. He has persevered and has great goals for his future.
Having access to hearing aids is key to ensuring success for Caiden. His example of success should be made possible for any child who needs hearing aids through insurance coverage for this NECESSITY.
We want to help ensure that access for EVERYONE. Having insurance coverage is not optional, but NECESSARY for anyone who needs hearing aids. Please consider our story of success with hearing aids as you make your decision about this bill.
“Joshua was in an orphanage in China for the first 2.5 years of his life and when we met him he had very limited ability to communicate. We brought him home with hopes that he could be fitted with a hearing aid. We were shocked and disappointed to learn that Blue Cross Blue Shield, our insurance provider considers hearing a luxury and they would not pay for the device he needed… We were blessed to be able to afford a single device for Joshua and have seen the benefits in his life.
One of the most touching moments of my life was the day when Dr. Gonzalez turned on the loaner Baha device and we saw Joshua’s reaction as he heard for the first time. We saw him lock eyes with Dr. Gonzalez as she talked and we saw his world open up as he heard our voices and his own voice. The video of this day still makes me cry when I watch it.”
“My name is Cynthia Berry and I gave birth to my beautiful daughter on 8/9/17. Two days after her birth, I learned that she failed her hearing test. I was not aware of anyone in my family or my husband’s family with hearing loss. So, of course, I wanted her tested again. She was tested two more times at the University of Mississippi Medical Center and once more at the University of Southern Mississippi. I finally faced the reality that something was definitely wrong. Shortly after she was diagnosed with mild to moderate hearing loss, I learned that my insurance carrier would not cover the hearing aids she needed. My first reaction to this news was simply anger.
How dare they not cover hearing aids! There was nothing we could have done to avoid hearing loss. My second reaction was the fear of not being able to afford hearing aids. After a child is diagnosed with hearing loss, the parents should never have to wonder how they will pay for the hearing aids. I was thankful for the financial assistance from my parents to pay for my daughter’s hearing aids. It saddened me to think about the thousands of other children who did not have other means to assist with the financial burden of purchasing hearing aids.
Words are not sufficient enough to express the amount of sadness, anger, and pain I felt being denied coverage for my daughter’s hearing aids. It should have been against the law for me to pay insurance premiums for 15 years and nearly $50,000, only to find out that hearing aids were excluded coverage under my policy. I pray that no other parent ever has to endure coverage denial for such a necessary tool for children with hearing loss.”
Have you experienced difficulty in securing hearing aids for your children? We want to hear your story!
Email your stories to firstname.lastname@example.org
Other States’ Efforts
Twenty-four states have already passed laws requiring insurance coverage of children’s hearing aids. Please visit https://www.letamericahear.org/other-states-efforts/ to learn more about efforts and successes in other states.
Help us advocate for insurance coverage of hearing aids for children!
1. Contact your local representatives. Click the link for a sample letter that you can personalize and send to your representative urging them to support insurance coverage of hearing aids for children.
Not sure how to contact your representative? Click here and enter your home address to find the contact information for your local representative.
2. Attend MSHA Legislative Day. The Mississippi Speech-Language-Hearing Association will be in the rotunda of the State Capitol advocating for child hearing aid coverage, as well as other important issues impacting individuals with communication difficulties. This is a great opportunity to speak to legislators face-to-face. Feel free to come and go as you are able!
MSHA Legislative Day
Mississippi State Capitol
400 High St, Jackson, MS 39201
Wednesday, February 5th, 2020
3. Spread the Word! Follow Mississippi Speech-Language-Hearing Association on social media (Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter); share our advocacy posts, share this website, and share your own personal story using the hashtag #letmississippikidsheard