NORTH MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WBTW) – One woman is pushing for South Carolina to require health insurance companies to cover the cost of hearing aids.
Michelle Barden was born with sensorineural and conductive hearing loss, which meant she couldn’t hear anything for the first few years of her life.
“I got my first hearing aids the day before kindergarten and it was a brand new world to me,” she said. “Everything was extra loud.”
Barden’s first hearing aids were covered under her parents’ insurance, but when she grew up and moved to South Carolina, she had to pay for them herself.
“Right now, I’ve kind of given up on private insurance and since learned to read lips,” she said.
Since Barden’s insurance doesn’t cover hearing aids, she pays about $3,000 to $6,000 every few years.
“If you think of a used car, that’s pretty much how much my hearing aids would cost,” she said.
That’s why she’s working with Sen. Greg Hembree, R-North Myrtle Beach, on his bill to fix that. It would require all health insurance providers to cover $2,500 every two years for hearing aids and repairs. The bill is in the Senate’s banking and insurance committee.
Barden says she’s inspired to help children hear like she could and have access to something as necessary for some as glasses.
“I’ve known people that won’t get hearing aids because they cannot afford it or they need to take out a loan from a bank, just to be able to hear, and, to me, that’s not right,” said Barden.
The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) says 23 states require health insurers to cover hearing aids for children or both kids and adults. North Carolina requires coverage, but only for hearing aids for kids.
If you’d like to help Barden advocate for this bill, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.