Houston Matters

Should Health Insurers Be Required to Cover Hearing Aids for Children?

(Above:Iris Wachs was diagnosed with hearing loss at birth but was able to obtain hearing aids at a young age. Pictured with her parents Michael Wachs and Stephanie Wittels-Wachs. Photo Used by Permission) Should health insurers be required to cover hearing aids for children? Currently, there are two bills in the Texas Legislature that would […]

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(Above:Iris Wachs was diagnosed with hearing loss at birth but was able to obtain hearing aids at a young age. Pictured with her parents Michael Wachs and Stephanie Wittels-Wachs. Photo Used by Permission)

Should health insurers be required to cover hearing aids for children? Currently, there are two bills in the Texas Legislature that would do just that – SB 552 and HB 490.

First, we take a closer look at the campaign to change how insurance companies cover those patients. It's called Let Texas Hear, and a local mother, Stephanie Wittels-Wachs, tells thestory of her daughter Iris, who was born with hearing loss. She talks about the challenges many parents facing affording hearing aids and why she supports the push to require insurance companies to cover hearing aids and cochlear implants for children.

The Texas Association of Business is among the opposition to these bills. A spokesman told Houston Matters: "TAB has a long standing policy of opposing all health insurance mandates, because they raise the cost of health insurance for all Texans and the businesses that provide health insurance." He added that his organizationopposed similar legislation during the 2015 legislative session. You can read TAB’s full statement of opposition from that session here(PDF).

Now, being able to pay for costly hearing aids is just one of the many issues facing those with hearing loss in Greater Houston. Joining us to explain some of the other issues is Christina Holmes, a hearing loss resource specialist with Communication Axess Ability Group, a company the state government has contracted with to provide services for the hearing impaired in the state.

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Michael Hagerty

Michael Hagerty

Senior Producer, Houston Matters

Michael Hagerty is the senior producer for Houston Matters. He's spent more than 20 years in public radio and television and dabbled in minor league baseball, spending four seasons as the public address announcer for the Reno Aces, the Triple-A affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

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