Update: Hearing Aid Tax Credit Legislation
The Hearing Aid Tax Credit would help the many Americans who need hearing aids, but cannot afford them.
What benefit would the tax credit provide?
The bill in the House of Representatives (H.R. 1479) would provide a tax credit towards the purchase of each hearing aid of up to $500 per hearing aid, available once every 5 years. It would be available to 1) individuals age 55 and over, or 2) those purchasing a hearing aid for a dependent. The House bill excludes coverage for those with incomes over $200,000 per year.
The bill in the Senate (S. 905) would provide the same $500 credit but would cover all age groups.
If enacted, the bill would reduce the substantial costs of special education for children with untreated hearing loss, as well as minimize psychological and mental disorders for older adults who have diminished hearing.
Why is this special tax treatment needed for hearing aids?
- While 95% of individuals with hearing loss could be successfully treated with hearing aids, only about 25% of the 34 million Americans with hearing loss (8.4 million people) used them in 2008 according to the most recent ‘MarkeTrak’ report, the largest national consumer survey on hearing loss.
- Hearing aids are not covered under Medicare, or under the vast majority of state mandated benefits. In fact, 61% of hearing aid purchases involve no third party payment according to the most recent MarkeTrak report. This places the entire burden of the purchase on the consumer.
- 33% of individuals with hearing loss have incomes of less than $30,000 per year according to the Better Hearing Institute, and household incomes of individuals with untreated hearing loss are usually much lower than their non hearing impaired counterparts.
- 68% of those with hearing loss cite financial constraints as a core reason they do not use hearing aids.
What is the cost impact of untreated hearing loss?
- Children who do not receive early intervention cost schools an additional $420,000 and are faced with overall lifetime costs of $1 million in special education, lost wages, and health complications, according to a 1995 study published in the “International Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology.” The Department of Education indicates that over 70,000 students, ages 6-21, received special education services in 2002 alone, due to their hearing loss.
- For seniors, untreated hearing loss causes additional costs to Medicare and other health programs due to loss of independence, social isolation, depression, safety issues, and quality of life. The Senate Special Committee on Aging, in S. Rpt. 107-74, noted: ‘As the wave of seniors begins to experience age-related disability, our current long term care system will not be able to support this demographic shift.’ Hearing aids help enable seniors to retain their independence and avoid other long-term care costs.
Let Your Voice Be Heard About The Hearing Aid Tax Credit
Are your U.S. senators and representatives supporting the Hearing Aid Tax Credit? Click here to locate your state and find out.