Assembly Passes Bill To Require Health Insurers To Provide Hearing Aid Coverage for Children
The Assembly on Wednesday voted 43-20 to approve a bill (SB 1158) that would require health insurers in the state to cover some of the cost of hearing aids for children younger than age 18, the Los Angeles Daily News reports. Under the legislation, health insurers would have to contribute as much as $1,000 for new hearing aids for children every 36 months. The University of California estimates that the bill would increase health insurance premiums by 12 cents per month.
Sen. Jack Scott (D-Pasadena) first introduced the legislation in February 2002 after Susan Grafman, a constituent with two sons who require hearing aids, told him that her family spent $7,600 on hearing aids because their preferred provider organization plan would not cover the cost. Although the bill would not provide complete coverage for the cost of hearing aids, Grafman said, "Something's better than nothing, and it's important for children to have coverage of hearing aids" because without the devices, children with hearing impairments "can't learn to speak well."
The bill, which the Senate approved in May, moves to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) for consideration. According to the Daily News, about 65% of the 81,000 California children who have hearing impairments use hearing aids (Dobuzinskis, Los Angeles Daily News, 8/18).