Abby's story

Our daughter, Abby, was born with profound hearing loss.  Detected early
in life, we had time to decide what we wanted for our daughter.  We
struggle with what the future would hold for little Abigail if she could
never hear.

At five months of age, Abby received borrowed hearing aids, which helped
her detect some environmental noises, but she would never hear the
spoken word.  Within the next year we were referred to the HIKE
Foundation, which so generously raised money so our daughter could have
her own hearing aid.  At seven months of age, we decided that we wanted
to get a cochlear implant for Abby and had high hopes that after her
first birthday, she would have surgery.  We received a letter of denial
from my employer's insurance company.  I work in the health care field,
and thought the insurance offered would be good coverage for my family. 
After receiving the denial, we were not going to give up.  We appealed
but were once again rejected because it was a direct exclusion in our
policy.  We almost got to the point of taking my employer to court. 
After researching the health insurance my husband could obtain through
his new job, we discovered that his insurance would cover a cochlear
implant.  I just didn't understand that the insurance I have paid
thousands of dollars in premiums could be so cold about helping a
child's development.  Although the implant would be covered by my
husband's insurance, a lot of the other day-to-day health issues were
not.  As a result, we are paying two premiums in order for my daughter
to be able to hear.  We have been struggling with just paying our
household bills in order to live as middle-class Americans.

The same insurance company that denied my daughter the ability to hear,
covered lap banding for an obese individual to lose weight.  Weight loss
may prevent a lot of health costs down the road, just like proper
amplification will prevent significant increased education costs.  Why
not help the children and help the taxpayers?

Abigail finally had cochlear implant surgery (three months before her
third birthday).  It has been almost five months after she received her
cochlear implant speech processor  and she is ALREADY detecting so much
more than she ever did before.  She has said "bye bye ma ma" when I drop
her off at preschool.  She can tell me some of the sounds that certain
animals make.  We are hopeful that her speech will develop with time and
hard work.  It still amazes me that anyone (legislators, insurance
companies
) would deny a child the opportunity to hear and to help them
to develop their speech and language to their fullest potential.

Let us work together on this bill so that families don't have to wait
two years for their child to begin hearing more.  We lost precious time
in Abby's speech and language development, exhausting options and trying
to work with my health insurance.  These children are our future, let's
give them all we can.

Ann and Matt Brensel
Parents of Abigail