Hearing Aid Tax Credit
In early 2015, a bill was introduced in Congress that would allow many users of hearing aids to apply for a tax credit to help offset the cost of purchasing new hearing aids. And though it hasn’t passed yet, it could be well on its way, for very good reasons.
How Much Is The Credit?
The Hearing Aid Assistance Tax Credit Act would provide a $500 tax credit for the purchase of a hearing aid, or $1000 for the purchase of two hearing aids, once every five years, to anyone with a household income of less than $200,000.
This Act is important because while 95% of people suffering with hearing impairment could be helped with hearing aids, less than 25% of people with hearing loss actually have hearing aids. The reasons for this are varied, but cost is certainly a factor for many people.
Medicare Doesn’t Cover Hearing Aids
Medicare doesn’t cover the cost of hearing aids, and though it is covered through some private insurance providers, not everyone who needs hearing aids has access to such insurance. In these cases, the entire cost of the hearing aids is on the shoulders of the user, and this can create a heavy financial burden for many people.
Many People Feel Hearing Aids Are Too Expensive
According to the Better Hearing Institute, 33% of people with hearing loss have annual incomes less than $30,000, and almost 70% of people with hearing loss say that the reason they don’t use hearing aids is because the devices are too expensive.
In 2008, the average cost of one hearing aid was over $1600. And since most people with hearing loss require two hearing aids – one for each ear – the financial burden becomes apparent.
The Cost To Society
This legislation is vitally important because there is also a cost to society when people live with untreated hearing loss. According to a 2010 survey by the Better Hearing Institute, untreated hearing loss can result in up to $30,000 less in household income, depending on the degree of hearing loss. This translates into $176 billion in unrealized income, and $26 billion in lost tax revenue for the government every year.
Help For Children
Children who don't receive early intervention for their hearing loss can cost schools an additional $420,000. According to a 1995 study in the International Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology, these children will pay more over their lifetime for things like special education, lost wages and health implications. In 2002, the Department of Education revealed that 70,000 students between the ages of 6 and 21 received special education services due to their hearing loss.
Hearing Loss Costs More Than Just Money
The costs of hearing loss aren't just financial. Hearing impairment can cost people their independence, and can result in social isolation, depression and safety issues. A 2013 study published in JAMA Internal Medicine suggested that among older adults, the rate of cognitive decline for those with hearing loss is 32-41% faster than for those without hearing loss.
Treatment for hearing loss is about more than just hearing – it’s about the overall quality of a person’s life. And quality of life could be much higher if proper diagnosis and treatment of hearing impairments were easily accessible to everyone.
This legislation has support from many political and social groups, but still needs your help to get it passed. Write to your local member of congress and your state senator, and let them know that this bill is important to you, or someone you love. Let's work together to make better hearing available to everyone.