An 8-year-old’s Statement Led to Insurance Coverage in Washington State for Hearing Aids

Hugo, age 8, and his pals were cited in the passage of new state legislation mandating coverage of up to $6,000 for ad*lts and children. Olympia, Washington, was distraught when physicians told Hugo Esterhay’s parents that their 3-year-old son had mild to moderate hearing loss.

Hugo’s parents were able to pay for hearing aids and other aids so that his preschool instructors could communicate with him directly, even though their health insurance did not cover the cost. Hugo, now eight, credits hearing aids with enhancing his social life and academic performance in second grade.

An 8-year-old's Statement Led to Insurance Coverage in Washington State

Hugo stated, “Without these, I would be lost in school.” Hugo’s parents were shocked that their insurance company would not pay for a hearing aid. “It’s just unacceptable,” Jill Bujnevicie, Hugo’s mom, said. “Some people of all agesΒ could benefit from hearing aids but do not have access to them.”

Rep. Tina Orwall (D), Des Moines, was the state lawmaker she got in touch with. “I was so surprised that this wasn’t covered. ItΒ seemed so fundamental,” Orwall remarked. She pushed for legislation that would make insurance companies pay for hearing aids up to $6,000.

Although Orwall sponsored the legislation in 2020, it did not become law until the current session. Orwall cited Hugo’s January appearance before the House of Representatives when he argued that hearing aids are important for children and ad*lts.

During the legislative process, additional deaf and hard-of-hearing children provided testimony. Orwall said that “everyone’s heart was turned on this issue” after Hugo and his pals arrivedΒ in Olympia.

Recent occurrences in Washington State need the following updates:

This measure became law when Governor Jay Inslee signed it early Thursday morning. InsleeΒ (D) WashingtonΒ remarked, “I have a special junior legislator, Mr. Esterhay,Β today, who has advocatedΒ for this,” with Hugo standing by his side.

Hugo was given the governor’s pen with which he signed the measure into law. Hugo boasted, “I made a law,” after the signing ceremony.

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Laurie is a passionate news writer with a keen eye for detail and a dedication to accurate reporting. She has been covering local and national news for for over a decade, bringing a fresh perspective and insightful analysis to every story she covers. Laurie's love of journalism began early in life, and she pursued a degree in journalism to further her knowledge and skills. She quickly made a name for herself in the industry, working for a variety of media outlets before joining the team at

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