Monday, June 22, 2009


I have lived in Pennsylvania my whole life. I've never even travelled much. Until recently, I was only living here because I'm overly attached to my parents. I have trouble missing a Saturday at their house.

Still I could live in Wheeling, WV and be close enough for that.

Then, in February 2008, my daughter was diagnosed with moderate hearing loss in both ears. And while I was still in shock over something I thought I was prepared to hear, the audiologist said, "You don't need to worry about anything."

She gave me a packet prepared by Children's Hospital and the phone number of a very knowledgeable, personable woman whose sold purpose it is to handle insurance issues. Within a few days of the definitive ABR test to confirm Julia's hearing levels I had a bright yellow Access card. A week or so later it was replaced with a more socially acceptable UPMC for You card that has paid entirely for a pair of hearing aids, ear molds, audiologist check-ups, ENT visits, and all of her routine medical care.

No private insurance would pay for hearing aids even though the hearing loss is deemed educationally handicapping. My kid couldn't hear enough to learn to talk, but in most states that would have been our problem alone. We would have likely taken a loan and had a hearing aid payment for the rest of our lives. Not in my Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania kids with all kinds of disabilities are on Medical Assistance, removing a burden from their families that allows them to focus on caring for the child rather than figuring out a payment plan. There is no income restriction for a qualifying disability. The program has been a blessing for our family and a benefit of living here that will be hard for any other place to top.

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