My Battle Call | Dear Insurance Company
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Dear Insurance Company

This is my daughter, Harper. She is twelve and was born with severe hearing loss. That means she could not hear anything other than doors slamming, drums, thunder, or a freight train.

She was outfitted with hearing aids at three months of age. We were the lucky ones because our insurance considered this a medical necessity and covered the cost of digital aids and regular audiology for programming, necessary to make sure they were shaped for her specific loss.

Not everyone is as fortunate to get the medical care they need!

If you haven’t witnessed a baby in a sound-booth being behaviorally tested for their ability to recognize sounds, you should check it out. It requires pretty amazing expertise and needs to be done repeatedly with continuity.

Also, there’s the re-making of ear molds (because, ya know, infants grow pretty fast and steady) and if the mold doesn’t fit just right, there’s this thing called “feedback” that happens continuously. Imagine the most annoying whistle sound, only the child hears little-to-nothing because the sound manager on the device cancels out all the sound…so they don’t just miss the whistle but everything.

The thing about wearing hearing aids and having access to sound… it is one of the critical ways a young child can develop speech and spoken language during those critical years of brain development and wiring.

There’s also the need to work with a specialist who understands how to help the child (and parents) assign meaning to the sound they hear. You see, for a child with hearing loss, this doesn’t come naturally. It’s science.

So, again, although driving two to three times a week sometimes two hours from home to meet for an hour with a Speech or Auditory Verbal Therapist with a baby may seem like a fun thing to do, it is also a very necessary step to ensure the hearing aids we fought so hard for will benefit the child.

Now, here’s the other thing…

Because of the nature of my daughter’s hearing loss, (hearing fluctuates and deteriorates) she was a candidate for a cochlear implant. Not all kids benefit from a cochlear implant, what’s more, some families do not choose this path. They utilize sign language and those kids also thrive. As a deaf and hard of hearing community, most of us are OK with people making personal decisions that works best for their family.

But, when a child who would benefit one-hundred-fold is DENIED access to this technology because it is NOT deemed necessary by an insurance company…

mama bears get fired-up.

For my kids, having these hearing devices has helped them to thrive in so many ways–I couldn’t even fully articulate them all: academically, socially, athletically, emotionally, to name a few. Our kids have been given the opportunity to do anything their hearing peers can do. Ya know, just be normal kids.

So, as you may have gathered, as much as some people think a cute little pair of hearing aids is cosmetic or “elective,” for the person with hearing loss, that COULD NOT BE FURTHER FROM THE TRUTH!

I have an idea… How about the people who see it as nice-to-have rather than need-to-have put a pair of earplugs in their ears for the day and go about their business. You may get a little frustrated when you can’t hear the barista at Starbucks or have no clue what your colleagues are saying during your staff meeting, but hey… just buck up! Sure, you will be exhausted at the end of the day from working so hard to try to hear, but…You’ve got this!

In closing, although our insurance through the military has approved everything our children have needed to thrive (did I mention my son has the same syndrome which causes hearing loss?) many other families have NOT experienced the same outcome.

Having a child diagnosed with anything out of the ordinary can be challenging. It causes strain on a marriage, tons of stress and anxiety, and then some. Throw in having to fight non-stop for the essential medical equipment needed to provide your child with the BEST opportunity to thrive–and you are on the ledge ready to jump.

Do the right thing. Cover the hearing aids and cochlear implants and provide families with peace of mind: let them know this is ONE battle they do not have to fight!

Read more in my new book!

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  • Maelynn Schlipp
    Posted at 06:02h, 25 June Reply

    I love this. You took the words right out of my mouth. This whole experience has been a fight since she was 18 months old. She will be 4 in a week. I have been fighting for months to get the brain stem analysis procedure and we finally got scheduled and had it performed on 6/10/20. It proved what I knew all along. I have had to switch pediatricians multiple times because they did not think it was hearing loss, gone out of network, spent so much money on the “elective” procedures and equipment etc. Trying to find programs to support her at her age is difficult too. Thank you for being part of our journey. I miss the program I started in San Clemente to support learning and play for parents and kids ages 0-5, Tyke Time. Those parents were the only thing that got me through to this point. Referrals on doctors, sign language apps, etc. I miss Tyke Time so much. We were forced to close because of COVID-19. Well, maybe someday we will see you out surfing. We love to surf and Esme LOVES the water. I swear she is half mermaid too!

  • Emily Gibbs
    Posted at 04:33h, 08 July Reply

    Our insurance completely denied us for my daughter’s implants. We had to jump through hoops and apply for the non- income based Medicaid then hold our collective breaths for 6 months while they approved it. Thank God for it, though, or else we would have had to find $90k per ear! Our state (SC) is one where legislature allows insurance companies to deny services by calling hearing devices cosmetic. It’s the most absurd thing and there have been attempts to get a bill passed changing it, but so far no dice. I hate to say it, but until a legislator is personally affected, there won’t be an urgency.

  • Amy Yonkman
    Posted at 10:30h, 27 July Reply

    My daughter is 7 and has bilateral sensorineural hearing loss. Her hearing fluctuated twice last year and we just found our today that she is once again a candidate for cochlear implants. The problem is that insurance won’t cover the cost. What resources can you share for trying to navigate funding?

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"Through the Fog: navigating life's challenges while raising kids with hearing loss"

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