STATEWIDE – A new state law went into effect this year, making Maine the fifth state to require hearing aid coverage for both children and adults.
A new law sponsored by Rep. James Handy, D-Lewiston, requires private health insurers to cover hearing aids at a level of up to $3,000 per hearing aid per ear.
The state law previously required coverage for children under the age of 18 and capped the insurers’ expense at $1,400.
According to Wanda Creed, a hearing instrument specialist at Soulas Hearing Aid, hearing aids can range from $1,600 to more than $5,000 so the new law can make a difference for those who need hearing assistance.
“It was made up thinking that people who couldn’t afford them would be able to at this point if the insurance companies offered a hearing aid allowance with their supplemental insurance,” Creed said.
But there are exemptions to the law, including one for companies that are self-insured.
So she said before people rush into their local provider, they should first determine if they qualify.
“You need to call your MaineCare worker, you need to call your supplemental insurance to Medicare, to find out if you actually have that benefit. Because not everybody is going to have that benefit. So that’s the first call you need to make,” she said.
She said it remains to be seen if the law will save Mainers money.
According to a 2014 report from Maine’s Bureau of Insurance, almost 173,000 Mainers have some level of hearing impairment
Because of that, AARP Maine Outreach Director Japhet Els believes this bill will change many Mainers‘ lives.
“This is really about making sure the oldest state in the country and the people that live in it can better afford the hearing aids that they need to live healthier and happier lives,” Els said.