Dear Governor and SC State Legislators:
We, the undersigned*, are requesting tha the State of SC enact a hearing aid insurance mandate for children (ages 18 and younger). Although hearing aids are deemed a medically necessary treatment, insurance companies do NOT cover hearing aids. Hearing loss affects 12,000 children born in the United States each year, making it the most common sensory birth defect. In South Carolina, roughly 4 percent of infants fail the newborn hearing screening. Hearing aids typically range between $1,000 and $4,000 per aid. Similar to eyeglasses for vision impairment, hearing aids will require maintenance and replacement typically every 3 to 5 years as a child’s hearing needs change as he/she gets older.
Investing in the early years of a child’s life saves the taxpayers money. When a child’s hearing needs are not identified and/or when they do not receive early intervention, special education for a child with hearing loss costs schools an additional $420,000 (over the 12 years), and has a lifetime cost of approximately $1 million per individual. According to South Carolina’s State Department of Education 2011 special needs data, roughly 1,150 students ages 3 to 21 are receiving services as a result of being deaf or suffering from hearing loss, and an additional 21,200 students receive services for speech and language impairment (hearing loss is often the root cause to speech delays). Every day this help is delayed, is one more day of rehabilitation that is needed later. Every child has the right to learn, to listen, and talk.
We, the undersigned, urge you to support the creation and passage of such important legislation. Legislation of this type has already passed in other states, including our neighbors - North Carolina and Georgia. It's time for SC to do the same! Thank you for your time and consideration of this request. Your support of children who have hearing loss is greatly appreciated.
*The undersigned represent the interests of thousands of SC Deaf and hard of hearing children as well as parents of children with hearing loss.