MANAGING HEARING LOSS
Available, Affordable, Accessible
BY NANNETTE NICHOLSON, PH.D.
he ability to communicate is fundamental to the human
experience, allowing us to meet our educational and so- FYI Hearing Health
cial needs, and yet it’s not an unalienable right. In fact, it
might seem as though communication is a privilege of Congress has reintroduced Hearing Aid Assistance Tax
the rich and well insured — a true treasure. And looking Credit Act (H.R. 1646 and S. 1019). This legislation
for organizations to help in the purchasing of a hear- could potentially provide up to $1,000 for two hearing
ing aid or trying to ﬁnd a government program that you might aids for dependents and adults 55 years and older.
be eligible for is much akin to a treasure hunt — but without a To support the legislation, consider joining the bill’s
map. Well, here’s the map you’ve been waiting for. We’ll not only Facebook page and writing your legislators. Read
navigate the government programs and the nonproﬁt options, but more in “Have You Heard” (p. 50) and visit www.
also insurance and savings plans that can soften the impact of the hearingaidtaxcredit.org. ■
purchase of a good set of digital hearing aids.
well. Following an investigation and evaluation to determine if
Government-Sponsored Programs his hearing loss was military service-related, he received a pair of
behind-the-ear hearing aids to accommodate his hearing loss.This
Veterans Administration (VA)
V was several years ago and he has continued to receive his hearing
The second largest department in the United States healthcare from the Kansas City VA Medical Center. To help
government, following the Department of Defense, is demystify the process, he recommends a document titled “Can I
t Department of Veterans Affairs, responsible for ad- get a hearing aid from the VA?” available from the National Center
ministering programs of veteran’s beneﬁts for veterans,
m for Rehabilitative Audiology Research: www.ncrar.research.
their families and survivors. va.gov/ForVets/documents/CanIgetaHearingaidfromVA.pdf.
As a hearing impaired veteran returning home from World Note that during the transition from TRICARE (the active duty
War II, my uncle found himself with severe noise-induced health system, www.tricare.osd.mil) to the VA (www.va.gov;
hearing l loss. Although he enjoyed post-war employment and 800.827.1000), veterans often ﬁnd themselves on their own with
success in a series of administrative positions with great health regard to healthcare needs.
insurance b beneﬁts, his policy did not cover the cost of hearing
aids. It was several years before he contacted his county veteran Medicare and Medicaid
service ofﬁc who assisted him with an application for service- Medicare (www.medicare.gov; 800.633.4227) is the federal health
connected hearing loss. He was also informed that veteran insurance program that is designated for people 65 years of age and
service organizations, such as the American Legion (www. older. Although directed toward a speciﬁc age bracket, Medicare
legion.org; 800.433.3318), Veterans of Foreign Wars (www.vfw. plans are also applicable to certain people with disabilities.
org; 816.756.3390) and Disabled American Veterans (www.dav. Medicare has two major parts: Part A is hospital insurance and
org; 877.426.2838), could have assisted him with this process as is ﬁnanced through federal taxes while Part B is supplementary
36 HEARING HEALTH A PUBLICATION OF THE DEAFNESS RESEARCH FOUNDATION
medical insurance and has a monthly premium. Medicare never language and hearing disorders.
covers hearing aid expenses. If the adult has additional disabilities Part C of IDEA ensures services, education and support to young
and qualiﬁes for Medicaid, it is possible in some cases that hearing children who: 1) have a diagnosed physical or mental condition
aids may be covered. with a high probability of a resulting developme