New law requires Illinois insurers to cover hearing aids for children

SPRINGFIELD (Illinois News Network) – Illinois will soon require health insurers to cover hearing aids for children once every three years.

Gov. Bruce Rauner signed House Bill 4516 into law last week and said it is important to help growing children who are hearing impaired. The new law requires Illinois health insurers to cover the cost of replacing hearing aids for children younger than 18 once every 36 months.

State Rep. Laura Fine, D-Glenview, sponsored the bill in the House after families with hearing-impaired children asked her for help.

“They explained to me the situation where there was no coverage for it and how expensive these hearing aids could be,” Fine said. “For many families, it was just out of range.”

Some estimates show hearing aids can cost $4,000. While some insurance companies already cover them for children, others do not. Fine said this law mandates coverage of something that would otherwise be financially out of reach for many families.

“It’s really an expensive proposition for families and this will just take off that stress and bring them some relief knowing they can provide this for their children,” she said.

Fine received input for the legislation from both parents and insurance companies, she said.

“It was a good process,” Fine said. “The insurance industry sat down with me, the families sat down with me and we just said where can we work together on this and how can we help these families.”

While adults may be able to use one hearing aid for years, growing children might need different sizes or adjustments through the years and that’s when the costs really escalate.

“With their growth and their development, you want to make sure that those hearing aids are working for them and are the proper sizes and that’s why sometimes with children they need to be replaced,” Fine said.

The law is effective immediately. It covers the cost of one hearing aid for each ear every three years and also covers the cost of exams, fittings and hearing aid repairs.