Orange Alert

SU Benefits Package Expands Coverage for Hearing Aids


April 7, 2014, by Sarah Scalese

hearing aid office
hearing aid office

Hearing loss knows no boundaries; it affects men and women, young and old, and people from all walks of life. In fact, more than 48 million adults, or 20 percent of the adult population in the United States, experience some degree of hearing loss, a startling statistic according to the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA). Additionally, the HLAA reports that 30 children out of every 1,000 also grapple with hearing loss.

Fortunately for the campus community, Syracuse University’s College of Arts and Sciences is home to the Gebbie Speech-Language-Hearing Clinic. The crown jewel of the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, The Gebbie Clinic is a premiere diagnostic and treatment services facility that treats individuals having difficulty with any area of communication, including speech, language and hearing. In response to the growing hearing loss epidemic, SU recently modified its health plans to ensure eligible SU employees and their families have access to hearing testing and affordable hearing aid options.

“The most effective way to prevent the impact of hearing loss is to be proactive,” says Gebbie Hearing Clinic Director and Assistant Professor of Practice Joseph Pellegrino. “Early intervention not only allows a person to identify a hearing impairment, it also enables that person to seek the proper treatment. Wearing a hearing aid or hearing aids is often the best course of action, but they don’t come cheap.”

The average cost of one hearing aid is roughly $1,500, while wearing two can cost a person upward of $3,000. The expanded coverage provided to employees and their dependents enrolled in Syracuse University’s medical plans will cover 50 percent of the purchase cost of hearing aids from providers every three years, up to a maximum of $750 for one hearing aid and $1,500 for two. Additionally, hearing testing, which typically costs $100, will be offered to SU employees and their covered family members at a cost of $40.

“The Office of Human Resources has heard from faculty and staff over the years regarding the rising costs of hearing aids, and we are happy to be able to respond to this need and expand our benefit coverage,” says Jennifer McLaughlin, associate director of benefits planning and administration. “The goal is to make hearing aids a more affordable option for employees and their families enrolled in the SU medical plans.”

The old stigma associated with wearing hearing aids is fading. Pellegrino says the technology available today makes wearing hearing aids much more attractive. “Today’s hearing aids are very small and discreet. That, along with recent advances in sound quality and blue tooth connectivity make the patients at Gebbie very glad they sought treatment.”

Benefits-eligible faculty, staff, graduate assistants, fellows and their dependents covered under the SU medical plans are eligible for this expanded benefit. To schedule a hearing test or consultation with the Gebbie Clinic, contact the clinic at 315-443-4485 or via email at Additional audiologists that participate with POMCO’s network that can also provide exams and hearing aids can be obtained by contacting POMCO at 877-461-7844. For more information on employee health benefits, visit or contact the Human Resources Service Center at 315-443-4042 or

The Gebbie Speech-Language-Hearing Clinic will mark its 40th anniversary in May with the grand opening of its new South Campus facility. The Gebbie Clinic works with nearly 4,000 clients a year from across the Central New York region. It also serves as a 24/7 training site for graduate students enrolled in the Communication Sciences and Disorders Program in Syracuse University’s College of Arts and Sciences. Clients are seen by graduate students working under the direct supervision of individuals certified by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) and licensed by the New York State Department of Education. The Master's and Audiology Doctoral graduate programs are accredited by the Council of Academic Accreditation for ASHA.

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Sarah Scalese