On behalf of the Massachusetts Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (MCDHH), this testimony is presented to support of the intent of HB3598, an Act to Provide Coverage for Hearing Aids. As with any bill that mandates a new insurance benefit, it is necessary to find the proper balance between the benefit of the mandate and the cost to the health care system. As the Commissioner of MCDHH I know well the need for the benefit this bill will provide but the Administration has not yet analyzed the costs of this bill and I feel we must understand the costs to the system before making a final determination about the bill. I understand the Committee requested an analysis from the Division of Health Care Finance and Policy and I look forward to the findings from that cost impact review.
* One out of 10 Americans has a hearing loss
* 29% of people over age 65 have hearing loss
* However, the majority (65%) of people with hearing loss are below retirement age
* One out of eight 50-year-old Americans have hearing loss
* 15% of “baby-boomers” have hearing loss
* One out of 12 30-year-old Americans already has hearing loss
* And, of the 10 million Americans aged 45 to 64 who have a hearing loss, 6 out of 7 do not yet benefit from wearing hearing aids
The ASLA also stated that “all customer satisfaction with new hearing instruments is 77%, placing this product in the top third of products and services in the United States.” The message here is that a hearing aid can be an effective communication access device for a high percentage of users, but is inaccessible to many because of cost and because of lack of recognition as a treatment option.