BOISE, Idaho — A rule change passed by the Idaho Legislature on Thursday means that 1,000 Idaho families who have deaf or hard of hearing children, will soon no longer need to pay for hearing aids out of pocket.
KTVB first reported back in September that insurers weren’t required to cover costs of hearing aids for families of children who are deaf or hard of hearing. On Thursday, nearly 50 people packed a room at the Statehouse as the Idaho House Business Committee voted to pass a rule change that would require those insurers to cover those hearing aid costs.
“Often this deafness is congenital, so it'll hit a family hard," House Assistant Minority Leader Ilana Rubel said. "They might have two or three or more kids who are deaf or hard of hearing, and so then not only do they have to come up with $5,000 a pair, they might have to come up with $15,000 to get pairs for all of their kids and that's just more than families can handle.”
Parents, children and medical professionals all testified during the committee hearing, sharing emotional stories about why this rule change should pass.
“The thought that the children in Idaho are going to be able to finally get the services that they need, and their parents will be able to get the help regardless of their insurance type or category, is huge,” said Gretchen Fores, a parent of three hearing-impaired children. “It's not going to depend on if the parent qualifies or the child qualifies for Medicaid or if the parent or child has enough extra income to cover the costs of hearing aids.”
In a unanimous vote, the committee later passed the motion, sparking a round of applause. The rule change not only means insurers will now cover the costs of hearing aids, but they will also cover costs for the necessary speech therapy.
Insurers are now in the process of developing plans for 2020. Those plans will now include the new rule.