30 May 2008

Legislators weigh national tax credit for hearing aid

A drive to promote a national tax credit for Americans buying hearing aids is receiving widespread support among legislators in the United States Congress and hearing organizations across the USA.

Legislation to provide tax credits of up to USD500 per hearing aid was recently introduced in both houses of Congress. The aim is to encourage proper treatment of hearing impairment with hearing aids. The financial support through tax credits is to be made available for hearing impaired people aged 55 years and older and to parents of hearing impaired children.

The average cost of a hearing aid in the US, including fitting and evaluation was USD1,800 in 2004. No national or federal subsidy or benefit to support treatment with hearing aids currently exists in the United States. A number of individual states offer limited subsidies, and most private health insurance plans exclude any provision for hearing aids. Currently, more than 70 percent of hearing aid purchases in the United States involve no third party payment, placing the entire burden of the purchase on the consumer.

More than three hearing impaired Americans in four, who could benefit from treatment with hearing aids, do not have hearing aids. According to a study conducted by the Better Hearing Institute, BHI, nearly two out of three adults with hearing loss cite financial constraints as a core reason that they do not wear hearing aids.

If the proposed legislation is passed by Congress, as many as 13 million hearing-impaired Americans would be eligible to save 25-35 percent on the purchase of hearing aids.

BHI has launched a website, www.hearingaidtaxcredit.org, to support the legislation and make it easy for hearing impaired taxpayers and others to voice their support and let their legislators know about it.

?Our effort is grounded in the sad fact that although 95 percent of people with hearing loss could be successfully treated with hearing aids, fewer than 23 percent of such Americans currently use them,? said BHI executive director Sergei Kochkin. ?That's tragic, and we as a nation must do better.?

Sources: www.hearingaidtaxcredit.org; www.betterhearing.org press release, 25 April 2008

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