Maine’s new law comes to the rescue for many hearing-impaired adults

By Rebecca Rancourt
Doctor of Audiology

AUGUSTA — Some of you may have heard about the recent passing of the legislation H.P. 39-L.D. 38, “An Act to Require Insurance Coverage for Hearing Aids for Adults.” This law states that private insurance companies in the State of Maine have to offer hearing aid coverage — up to $3,000 per hearing impaired ear. The passing of this legislation has led to many Maine residents experiencing improved quality of life. This insurance benefit for hearing aid coverage has allowed many patients across the State of Maine to hear the sounds of life once again.
Our goal at Waterville Audiology is to educate Mainers on the passing of this law, so they too can seek treatment for hearing loss. There are some restrictions in place regarding this law. For example, if an employer is based out of state, the insurance policy would be exempt from this law. Also, any federal insurances, such as Medicare, are also exempt from this law.
Currently, the average person with hearing loss ​waits approximately seven years to seek treatment. One of the major reasons for the delay in treatment is the cost — a major barrier to better hearing for many patients, as hearing aids can cost up to $2,000 to $4,000 per hearing aid.
Waterville Audiology would like to thank State Rep. James R. Handy of Lewiston for his sponsorship to pass this legislation. Waterville Audiology interviewed Handy, and he discussed his personal experiences with hearing loss, including family members who have needed treatment, and the financial barriers that were in place, along with the consequences of untreated hearing loss.
While campaigning door to door in 2016, Handy heard from multiple people experiencing the isolation hearing impairment can impose on a person. He soon realized he was not alone in experiencing these feelings, but that the problem was very widespread across the state. Handy indicated that during the course of working the bill through the legislation process, many individuals expressed to him how this bill would result in life changing experiences for Maine people with hearing loss.
Handy touched upon how untreated hearing loss can cost people their jobs and deny individuals the opportunity for promotions. The following bullet points are some of his many motives for sponsoring this legislation:
* Employers don’t hire employees who can’t hear and respond to interview questions * Without hearing aids, interviews are often unsuccessful * Employers don’t keep employees who can’t her well enough to communicate through telephones. * Employers tend to not assign employees to lead projects or be in significant roles in teams when they know the person will not be able to hear well enough to be in the team. * Individuals with untreated hearing loss — without the use of hearing aids — cannot get the opportunities that result in career advancement. * In this day of Go To meetings and Zoom, employers are aware of the cost of employing people who will potentially need ongoing and expensive accommodations.
Waterville Audiology is here to support you through navigating your insurance benefit. Call us today at 207-872-0320; we are happy to help you through the process to hear the sounds of life again.