U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire submitted this column to The Eagle-Tribune published on May 7, 2017:
Older Americans deserve a high quality of life, with opportunities to stay active and engaged.
Unfortunately, age-related hearing loss can present obstacles to social interaction and challenges in daily life. When you experience hearing loss, everything from going to the movies to talking on the phone or chatting with loved ones can become a burden. And hearing loss is linked with negative health outcomes, including dementia.
For those who experience mild to moderate hearing loss, these negative impacts could be prevented with the assistance of hearing aids. Yet, for far too many Americans, the combination of stigma and high costs keep them from using the hearing aids they need.
Research has shown that nearly 30 million Americans experience age-related hearing loss, which includes nearly half of all adults in their seventies. But, largely due to high costs, only 14 percent of those who are living with hearing loss use assistive hearing technologies.
Medicare doesn’t cover hearing aids, and even when hearing aids are covered by private insurance as is required in New Hampshire, seniors can still be stuck with bills totaling thousands of dollars. One survey found that the average out-of-pocket cost for hearing aids nationwide is $2,400.