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Buying a hearing aid is worse than buying a car and you don’t even get a test drive!

January 19, 2013

I was talking to a good friend recently who has significant hearing loss. She has had to drop out of some activities she enjoys because following conversation in groups, especially in a noisy environment like a coffee shop or a party, takes too much concentration.  What used to be fun socializing with friends has turned into a chore that leaves her frustrated and overwhelmed.  I asked why she doesn’t get a hearing aid and that’s when I found out Medicare and most insurance does not cover the cost of hearing aids and they are obscenely expensive.

According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), one in three people over the age of 60 have significant hearing loss and amongst those over 85 the number rises to 50%.  Hearing loss in the elderly leads to many problems that could be avoided with timely treatment such as social isolation, depression, and increased risk of injury or accidental death from not being able to hear noises that would inform them of dangerous situations.  So why doesn’t Medicare cover this important treatment?  It is considered elective (incidentally so is vision correction).  So if you want something as frivolous as to be able to hear or see, you’re out of luck if you don’t have cash in hand.

Hearing is something that is very important to communicating with others and getting along in the world.  Why is hearing treatment considered equivalent to getting a face lift or a tummy tuck?  For that matter, why is vision treatment in that category?  It’s all about cost, containing cost at the expense of those depending on the safety net of Medicare.  Why not cut costs by reducing fraudulent or unnecessary claims by providers?  Why not streamline the bureaucracy controlling Medicare and other government programs?  Why not have the richest 2% of Americans pay their fair share of taxes?  We need to put pressure on Congress and the White House to make hearing correction available to our seniors and disabled people who need it.

To this end, I have created a petition on WhiteHouse.gov urging the Obama administration to address this problem.  To sign the petition, click on this link:   https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/require-medicare-cover-cost-hearing-aids/gzZ3t2lh.  In order to receive a response from the White House, the petition must have 100,000 signatures in 30 days.  If this issue is important to you, forward the link to as many people as possible and spread the word!

See my next blog coming up soon which will offer information about how to get the best deal on hearing aids, since for now we have to pay out of pocket.

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