Networking


The problem with being deaf or seriously hard of hearing (HoH) is that unless we are part of a larger Deaf community or involved with organizations for the hard of hearing we tend to be isolated souls.  It is not that we want to be, it is simply a fact that oral communication is generally limited for us. However, now and then we have a breakthrough.

There are blogs for the D/deaf and HoH. Blogs dealing with Meniere’s and blogs about CIs. There are groups on FaceBook (FB) that cater to the D/deaf and HoH in a variety of capacities. I’m in 3 such groups – one professional, one focusing on ASL and another that is more conversational.

Not long ago one of my blogging pals, Wendy of Picnic with Ants mentioned she no longer needed her relatively new hearing aids (HAs) because she now has bilateral CIs. Recently on FB another individual mentioned a need for replacment HAs that could not be met because of no longer being a part of the work force.

A contact with Wendy and a contact with the FB gal (who happens to have a blog on ASL on a different blogging site) and a connection was made – much to the delight of both parties. And I was more excited than both of them together. 🙂

I’ve previously returned older, serviceable digital HAs to my audio service provider who sends them on to be refurbished and donated to children who cannot afford them. That’s great. But what about adults who are not working and cannot afford them?

In general, insurance does not pay for HAs. And there’s the rub, because it is now known that untreated hearing loss leads to a loss of brain density which is related to dementia. Dementia is a huge problem in our elderly population today and is a drain on financial resources. If $6k in HAs every few years could prevent tens of thousands of dollars or hundreds of thousands of dollars in custodial care costs it appears to me to be the height of stupidity on the part of the medical insurance industry not to market hearing insurance aggressively. Keeping people functional would be an enormous cost savings. What is wrong with the bean counters that they are missing this? I’m not sure, but I’ve a niece in the health insurance business so I shall ask her about her thoughts on this.

Back to networking:  It appears the Lions Club accepts donated hearing aids to benefit men, women, and children who cannot afford them. It also appears that the Starkey Hearing Aid Company accepts donations, but I’m not sure how they are handed out. Hearing Loss of America has a financial assistance program. In Massachusetts the Massachusetts Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing helps individuals get hearing aids, although funds are limited. Not every state has a commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, but it might be wise to contact state government and see if your state has assistance.  Of course, for individuals in the workforce your state’s Vocational Rehabilitation office can assist in paying for hearing aids so long as they are related to employment.

It is important that deafies or HoH folk network so that HAs that are functional but live in dresser drawers (unless they are the backup HAs one should have) find their way to people who need them. Behind the Ear (BTE) is the only kind that can be easily recycled (a new ear mold will do it) although In the Ear (ITE) can be donated and the parts used to build another HA. My hearing loss is at such a level that an ITE won’t work for me anymore – I’m BTE from here on out now.

It is estimated that only 10% of people worldwide get the support they need to deal with hearing loss. We need to start engaging in some serious networking and rabble rousing to have HAs covered by all insurance.

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4 comments

  1. The biggest buildings in every city are always insurance companies. That should tell you all you need to know, right there. You don’t get rich by giving people back their money. I’m sure that in those enlightened countries – that we’re always telling ourselves we’re better than – HAs are paid for. Now Viagra on the other hand – well that’s an important, life-saving drug, and no insurance company seems to take issue with paying for it.

    1. Hi David,

      Something to keep in mind regarding insurance companies – there are two kinds. One type is ERISA and it is regulated strictly by the Feds. The other (many fewer types) can be regulated by the state. Almost all insurance is now ERISA.

      Another thing: The insurance companies provide options pre-selected by the employer in what are known as Cafeteria plans. An employer may offer half a dozen ERISA plans with varying options and one state regulated plan that is so bad no one wants it.

      Ultimately, the employer – or ACA – decides what options people can select for insurance. And the insurance company really doesn’t care. They make money no matter what is insured (health wise). I have a Gold Plan which is only superseded by Platinum. Most people have, at best, a Bronze plan.

      So, the issue is not to bash the insurance companies – most of whom are merely administering funds for self-insured companies, towns, cities, or state governments under ERISA but to hammer home to employers and the government how incredibly important this is.

      I’m thinking that the insurance bean counters don’t address this issue because most folks with dementia are on medicare and it is “not my problem” for any of the big insurance providers.

      We need to get over that.

      As to the issue of viagra, that’s another thing altogether. It is largely covered because men want it covered and most of the companies are run by men. Need I say more?

      Thanks for commenting. 🙂

  2. I don’t know how I have gotten so far behind on reading your blog. Ugh…not getting the email notices again I guess.

    I’m so sorry about the massive ear infection…no fun at all!! I had horrible ear infections growing up, it caused some balance issues, and I think we didn’t notice my Meniere’s as early because of it..but that’s another story.

    I don’t think I’ve had an ear infection since I got the CI’s.

    But…giving up your good ear? They didn’t do that with me. They did my bad ear first…I was hoping to just get one. Then I got the better ear the next year when it went away too.

    However, the new CI’s…they aren’t saying this aloud much..but, they usually keep the residual hearing. My new CI I can still hear what little I could out of that ear. It’s only some high pitch notes now and then, it’s funny because if I have my CI’s out and I’m talking and I hear that pitch I see Stuart crouch down and almost scream….I’ll go…”ooops, a little loud huh?” He laughs. He thinks it’s funny because normally I talk pretty even like a “normal” hearing person, even without the CI’s in…but every once in a while, I guess I get excited…or mad…hmmm.

    but it’s just a thought. for some point in the future maybe. It hasn’t been approved by the FDA to say that it does this so they don’t…they will say it might…but when I read things from other countries on them it looks like they are saying it there. It’s because the piece they put in the cochlea is so much smaller now it doesn’t harm it like it used to. but a surgeon could not be as good, or someone could have a more narrow cochlea I guess? who knows. all I know is I have residual hearing.

    Going to drop you an email about the blog post I asked about.

    and the steroids are driving me crazy! I’ve been on them numerous times, I’ve never reacted like this!! Going crazy! Can’t sleep. More vertigo. Ugh!

    Hope ear is all better now.
    w

  3. OK,,,,so my last comment that showed up here was supposed to be on your ear infection post…I’m so confused.
    I hope this gets on the hearing aid post.

    i was thrilled to pass on my hearing aids. I was going to send them to Sharkey’s they work in the US and work with audiologists to get free hearing aids to those who need them. I read all about it, but that’s all I remember now. Luckily, I was slack and didn’t get them sent out so I still had them when your friend needed them.

    She is a love by the way!! She told me that the audiologist has molded her ears and they are going to be programmed soon…probably are now. I felt bad I didn’t have them all nice a in a pretty box with a bow. It’s not going to cost her a fraction of the cost of the hearing aids. Just think…I paid about $5000 for these, used one only about 3 months, the other almost a year…..maybe. I’m so thrilled someone is able to use them…and I know they are going to someone and not just sitting in a drawer, or whatever.

    I gave my iCom I got with it away when I originally lost my ability to use it….I hope it is getting some good use too.

    It’s all about networking!

    Wish we had an even better way to do it.
    thank you for sharing our story.
    I should do that too.
    w

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