New legislation to provide more families access to hearing aids went into effect July 1. The Hearing Aid Assistance Program of Indiana (HAAPI) now includes younger children in the program and an increase in funding.
HAAPI has been helping Hoosier families afford hearing aids using state funding since 2014. Lawmakers this year included children 3 and up into the program; before it was kindergarten.
Christine Moody, executive director for the state’s Center for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Education says the changes to the program aim to help more Hoosiers.
“It’s designed to remove barriers to families and some of it’s about time and the time it takes to get those hearing aids,” says Moody.
Moody says for parents of children with hearing needs, an aid is just like any other essential.
“You want them to have nutrition, you know how important that is,” says Moody. “And you know how important it is to get sleep and these are things parents stress about.”
About 250 Hoosier children are born with hearing loss every year.
Hear Indiana helps administer the HAPPI program. Executive director Naomi Horton says the funding has been bumped up to $2,000 a pair, up from $1,500.
“The cost for them, these days is about $5,000 to $6,000 for a pair, so you can imagine if you’re supposed to update those every three to five years,” says Horton.
Horton says most insurance doesn’t cover hearing aids. She also says more older children are in need of hearing aids.
“By the time they are school age we have studies that say 1 in 5 teenagers have hearing loss now so it’s getting pretty common,” Horton says.
In Indiana, 52 audiologists participate in the program and the state would like to see more sign up.