LANSING — State Representatives Sarah Roberts (D-St. Clair Shores) and Jon Hoadley (D-Kalamazoo) launched an online petition drive and website today outlining their efforts to pass legislation 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. Roberts sponsored House Bill 4718, which would require insurers to cover human or synthetic hair replacements for children under the age of 19 who have experienced hair loss as a result of a medical condition or the treatment of a medical condition, and mandates that insurance coverage for wigs cannot be less than coverage offered for any other prosthesis. Hoadley sponsored HB 4808, which would mandate that Medicaid offer this same coverage for wigs for children.
“A wig is a prosthetic and is just as important for the child who needs one because of a medical condition as any other prosthetic for children,” said Roberts. “It’s time that insurance companies cover wigs for these children as they cover other medically necessary prosthetics.”
The website, www.kidsshouldbecovered.com, includes a petition demanding action on the legislators’ bills and a resource kit to help spread the word about kid’s wigs and insurance coverage.
“For a child dealing with hair loss due to illness or a medical condition, a wig can be the difference between that child liking who they see in the mirror or not,” said Hoadley. “A wig is a small price for an insurance company to pay to help a child be healthy, happy and whole.”
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. These organizations also have limited resources, however, and can’t reach every child who needs a wig. Some children needing wigs also do not live close to where these groups are located, and may be unable to travel to meet with representatives and to apply for help in obtaining a wig. Requiring insurance coverage would ensure that a child who needs a wig would be able to have one no matter where they live.
“Hair loss affects children emotionally, socially, psychologically and even academically. It also impacts their sense of well-being which can alter their healing process,” said Maggie Varney, founder and CEO of Wigs 4 Kids of Michigan. “They just want to have a sense of normalcy, fit in and be accepted by their peers.”
The “Kids Should Be Covered” website also includes information for how groups, such as hair professionals, can get involved and promote the legislation and raise awareness about medical conditions that lead to hair loss in kids.