LANSING – State Representative Sarah Roberts (D-St. Clair Shores) announced legislation at a Lansing press conference today to require health insurance companies to cover wigs for children who suffer hair loss because of a medical issue or treatment that causes hair loss. Joining Roberts at the press conference were Maggie Varney, Founder and CEO of Wigs 4 Kids of Michigan, and Jaeleen C. Davis, a young woman who suffered hair loss as a child due to alopecia universalis and was helped by Maggie Varney. Ms. Davis is the reigning Miss Spirit of the State and a competitor for Miss Michigan. Part of her platform is child hair loss to raise awareness of the issue and ensuring children needing wigs is covered by insurance.
“Insurance companies are required to cover many types of prosthetics, and yet they are not required to cover the costs of a wig that is just as important to a child’s self-esteem and quality of life as any other prosthesis,” said Roberts. “Many groups have stepped up to give wigs to children suffering from hair loss, but they can’t reach every child who needs one and there are a limited number of resources. It’s time for insurance companies to cover wigs as they do any other prosthesis and make wigs available for these children.”
Roberts’ bill would mandate that insurers provide coverage for human or synthetic hair replacements to children under the age of 19 who have experienced hair loss as the result of a medical condition or the treatment of a medical condition. The bill also mandates that insurance coverage for wigs cannot be less than coverage offered for any other prosthesis.
“Groups like mine that make wigs available free of charge to children cannot keep up with the need because it is so great,” said Varney. “A child suffering from hair loss for any reason often faces bullying from other children, anxiety and depression because they look different, and may even refuse to go to school or out in public. A wig can make all the difference for a child and change their outlook on themselves and life. Rep. Roberts’ bill will ensure that more children can have the wigs they need to help them feel better about themselves.”
A number of organizations in Michigan provide wigs and other support free of charge to thousands of children every year suffering from hair loss, but these organizations still have to cover the costs of the wigs and products they provide.
“After I was diagnosed with alopecia universalis, the hair pieces I received made all the difference in the world for me,” said Davis. “I was able to go out in public, carry on with my life like a normal person and even compete in pageants where physical beauty is judged.”