by Daniel Fink, MD, Chair, The Quiet Coalition
This poignant piece on Slate by author Ariel Henley describes how she couldn’t afford hearing aids until she got a lucrative book deal.
Henley suffers from a rare genetic condition, Crouzon syndrome, which causes facial deformities that in her case required multiple surgeries. As a complication of her disorder and its treatment, she developed hearing loss.
She had hearing aids as a child, but when she became an adult these were not covered by her health insurance, even though she was working. She made too much money to qualify for Medicaid, but not enough to afford costly hearing aids, costing $5-7,000 or sometimes more for a pair.
Finally she sold a book she had written about growing up with Crouzon disorder, Western ideas of beauty, and ableism in our society. Thanks to a good contract from the publisher, she was finally able to afford hearing aids. And now she can hear.
According to the FDA, only 20% of adults needing hearing aids have them, largely due to cost. We hope the proposed Medicare expansion will cover hearing aids, and that new proposed regulations for over-the-counter hearing aids will allow many more Americans to get the hearing aids they so desperately need.