Medicare and private health insurers decline to cover cheap devices such as iPhones and netbook PCs that can help speech-impaired students and others, despite their usefulness and lower cost, reports the New York Times. Kara Lynn has ALS disease, which has attacked the muscles around her mouth and throat, removing her ability to speak. A few years ago, she spent more than $8,000 to buy a computer, approved by Medicare, that turns typed words into speech. Under government insurance requirements, the maker of the PC, which ran ordinary Microsoft Windows software, had to block any non-speech functions, like sending eMail or browsing the web. Dismayed by the PC’s limitations and clunky design, Lynn turned to a $300 iPhone 3G from Apple running $150 text-to-speech software. Lynn said it worked better and let her "wear her voice" around her neck while snuggling with her son. But public and private insurers insist that, if Lynn and others like her want insurance to pay, they must spend 10 to 20 times as much for dedicated, proprietary devices that can do far less. For the millions of Americans with ALS, Down syndrome, autism, strokes, and other speech-impairing conditions, the insurance industry’s aversion to covering mainstream devices adds to the challenges they face; advocates say using an everyday device to communicate can ease the stigma. At the same time, current policies mean that the government and private insurers are spending unnecessary dollars on specialty machines…

Click here for the full story

About the Author:

eSchool News