Program helps cover costs of hearing aids

FOX Medical Team

Program helps cover costs of hearing aids

Posted: Updated: Aug 13, 2013 10:59 AM
ATLANTA -

If you're losing your hearing, a pair of hearing aids can be a game changer. The problem is that a lot of Georgians can't afford them, but there may be a program that can help.

Medicaid and Medicare will pay for a yearly hearing screening, but not hearing aids. It's the same situation with many insurance companies.

That's where the Norman and Frankie Siegel were hitting a wall. They're in their mid-70s and retired and they were beginning to realize that they were missing out on a lot.

"I would sit in my chair and turn the TV on and I would turn the volume, and my wife would say, ‘That's too loud!  Turn it down,'" said Norman Siegel.

Even just talking to each other was getting harder.

"She would tell me something and I would say, yes and no.  And she would ask me about it later, and I would say, ‘You didn't tell me that.'  I wasn't hearing. I was not hearing, I was missing a lot of conversations," said Norman Siegel.

The Siegels went to Audiological Consultants of Atlanta, where doctor of audiology Meryl Miller screened them and diagnosed both with hearing loss.

Miller says the amount of hearing loss you have is important.

"But sometimes even more important is what is your lifestyle?  What are your hearing demands," Miller said. "When you're in a career, or a lifestyle, that demands that you hear well in restaurants, in meetings, on the phone, in the car, all these different situations, then you need a hearing aid that is going to support all of those different situations."

The Siegels just needed something basic, but a pair of hearing aids runs between $2,000 and $6,000, which raised a problem.  

They got help from the Georgia Lions Lighthouse Foundation's hearing program.

Anna Knippel says they work with uninsured or underinsured lower income Georgians to help cover the cost of hearing aids.
 
"I sat in a fitting the other day and it turned on and we were all crying.  It was just one of those -- it's something you can't explain until you've not been able to hear," said Knippel.

Instead of paying $2,000, Frankie Siegel said she paid about $25.
 
The little gadgets have a made a big difference.

"Once I put my hearing aids on, I said, 'Wow! I can hear somebody talking across the room," said Norman Siegel.

The program covers two hearing aids, an ear mold and several appointments for adjustments.

Clients usually pay a sliding fee based on their income, household size and the type of devices they need. Costs usually run from $60 to $200.

To find out more about the Georgia Lions Lighthouse Foundation's hearing assistance program, visit:  http://www.lionslighthouse.org/programs

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