When insurance won't pay for hearing aids or won't pay the full cost of a cochlear implant and family income is too low to purchase hearing aids or an implant outright, what are you to do? One can turn to a variety of resources for help. There is no guarantee, though, that you will receive the help needed.
Health Care Spending PlansOne of the best ways to pay for these needs yourself is through an employer-sponsored Flexible Medical Spending Plan. These plans let you take money out of your pay pretax. This money is used to cover medical expenses not covered by your health insurance. Another way to pay is by opening a Health Savings Account.
Organizations Providing Hearing Aid Assistance
Both independent organizations and social services organizations provide assistance. Plus, hearing aid banks provide used or refurbished hearing aids. Some of the most commonly turned-to sources of assistance are:
- Lions Clubs - The Lions have a long history of providing financial assistance for hearing aids through either hearing aid banks or direct assistance. Not all Lions clubs, however, choose to support this endeavor.
- Sertoma Clubs - Sertoma Clubs are also actively involved in providing assistance.
Implant Centers - Charitable ProgramsSome implant centers have charitable programs that provide free or reduced-cost cochlear implants. For example, if you live in Colorado, the Colorado Neurological Institute in Englewood, Colo., has a Cochlear Implant Assistance Fund.
Manufacturers Providing Hearing Aid Assistance
In addition, a few hearing aid manufacturers have assistance programs of their own. Miracle-Ear Children's Foundation provides free hearing aids to low income families through Miracle-Ear centers across the nation. Another one is the Starkey Hearing Foundation.
Government and SchoolsI've seen it mentioned by experienced parents that sometimes you can get the school to provide the hearing aids as a last resort, or if the family does not qualify for federal programs, such as Medicaid, there may be a Children's Rehabilitative Services program (or something similar) under the state government that would pay. In addition, some state governments, such as South Dakota's Division of Rehabilitation Services, have cochlear implant programs to help both uninsured and insured people.
Grass Roots and Organized EffortsSome parents, stunned at the cost of aiding or implanting their deaf/hard of hearing children, are starting foundations aimed at helping others. In addition, some adult implantees are launching their own foundations to help others, such as the Gift of Hearing Foundation, which was started by a late-deafened adult. Another organization is the California-based LetThemHear.org, which helps people to appeal insurance denials of coverage for hearing aids and cochlear implants.
There are a growing number of organizations working to increase access to cochlear implants internationally. One such organization is the Help Me Hear foundation. Help Me Hear reprints articles on its website and has a mailing list.
Additional Hearing Aid Help Resources
One organization providing assistance and encouraging the development of lower-cost cochlear implants is Hearing for Children. In addition, Information to Go at Gallaudet University maintains a listing of hearing aid help resources.
An About.com visitor informed me that these additional sources of help may be available:
- Fraternal Order of the Eagles - members vote on whether to help.
- Moose Lodge - members vote on whether to help.
- The Masonic Lodge or Shriner's.
- Medicaid - most state Medicaid programs will pay for hearing aids. An About.com Deafness visitor wrote, "The federal program of EPSDT will pay for digital hearing aids until the age of 21 for medicaid-eligible children. I also have had the BAHA [bone anchored hearing aid] paid for by Medicaid."
In some cases, state vocational rehabilitation agencies may pay for hearing aids for deaf clients.
Have you had difficulty paying for hearing aids or cochlear implants? How did you do it? Tell firstname.lastname@example.org.