Insurance Plans Must Cover Hearing Aids

H.5000 would mandate that all health insurance plans provide benefits relating to the cost of hearing aids for insureds who have been diagnosed with impaired hearing by an audiologist. The coverage would have to include fitting, repairs, and other work related to hearing aids. The dollar amount of coverage for purchasing a new or replacement hearing aid would be set by law at a $1,500 minimum and a $2,500 maximum. Insureds would have the option of purchasing a hearing aid that cost more than $2,500 but would have to pay any cost over $2,500 themselves.

The bill would also prohibit insurers from denying, refusing, or terminating coverage to an individual because he is or has been diagnosed with hearing loss.

Like other mandated benefits, this bill would further drive up the costs of health insurance in South Carolina. The bill would also drive up the average price of hearing aids. If deep pocketed insurers are footing the bill there is little reason for consumer to look for a better price. As a result we could expect to see the general price of hearing aids to rise in South Carolina.

This isn’t the first attempt by lawmakers to raise hearing aid prices. Last session’s S.1056 (which failed to pass) would have reduced competition, and thereby driven up prices in the hearing aid market, by forcing buyers to go through a licensed hearing aid specialist.

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