Madison County’s Ryleigh Palmer is just 11 years old, but she is already well acquainted with the adult world of insurance claims.
Both Ryleigh, a sixth grader at East Jackson Middle School, and her younger brother Isaac, a third grader at East Jackson Elementary, have hearing disabilities. They both need hearing aids.
But opening the world of sound to kids is no simple matter — not when it comes to insurance. Since insurance companies don’t consider hearing aids a medical necessity, even parents who pay monthly premiums for private coverage must fork over around $6,000 out of pocket for a hearing device for their child.
Ryleigh doesn’t think that’s fair. And she penned a letter to Gov. Nathan Deal asking for his help.
“I believe that it’s not fair that insurance companies cover braces and glasses, but not hearing aids!” wrote Ryleigh to Deal. “I want to do something about that! I want to get help to other people like me! Will you be my voice?”
Ryleigh’s mother, Jenny, a third grade teacher at East Jackson, and her husband Tommy, a teacher at Jackson County Comprehensive High School, are working with Let Georgia Hear, a parent-led initiative working towards the goal of securing insurance coverage for children’s hearing aids in Georgia.
The group has gotten some support in the General Assembly this year with the introduction of HB 74, the “Hearing Aid Coverage for Children Act,” sponsored by Rep. Edward Lindsey (District 54). Rep. Tommy Benton (District 31) of Jackson County is a co-sponsor of the bill.
But a bill is one thing. A law is another.
And Jenny and Tommy Palmer are anxiously awaiting action on the bill in this year’s legislative session, along with many other parents of hearing-impaired children.
Ryleigh Palmer, 11, and her brother, Isaac, 8, are pictured with their hearing aids, which have helped them immensely, says their mother, Jenny Palmer.
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