CLEVELAND — Doctors diagnosed Madeline Rohlin with hearing loss at 2-years-old. She’s had hearing aids since then, and she received a cochlear implant at age 8 to help her hear.
She said hearing is harder with them off.
“I almost cannot,” Madeline said, when asked how well she can hear if she doesn't have the hearing aids on.
Madeline’s mother, Nadia, said the costs of the hearing aids aren't covered by her insurance. The replacements and maintenance aren’t either for a total cost of close to $15,000 over the last seven years. Nadia said the insurer lists hearing aids as a cosmetic device.
Spectrum News reached out to her health insurer to find out why they're categorized this way, but didn't get a response.
“She needs these. She would not be able to hear, go to school, be mainstreamed, have friends, be able to do any of those types of things at school," Nadia said.
They’re the family behind a bill that would require Ohio health insurers to cover hearing aids for anyone under 21. Its called Madeline’s Law. Ohio House Minority Leader Allison Russo is a sponsor.
“I believe, as well as my other co-sponsors believe, that hearing is not cosmetic. Especially in children, hearing is essential to development and building relationships," Russo said.
Russo said the bill has bipartisan support, but hasn’t left committee. Russo said at least 20 other states passed laws like this. She said that in Ohio, the process is inconsistent since a diagnosis of hearing loss is covered by insurance, but the hearing aid is not.
Nadia said there are other costs to consider as well, like spare batteries. She hopes that the bill can help families that don’t have the thousands of dollars needed for their children to hear.
“When we got them, they told us we could return them in a week if she needed to. I said why would we return them? She needs them. She has to have them. They said some people make the decision that they can’t afford them and they need to return them," Nadia said.