LANSING (WWJ) – Democrats in the Michigan House and Senate have introduced legislation that would require health insurance companies and Medicaid to cover wigs for children who suffer hair loss from medical conditions or treatments.
State Representative Kevin Hertel (D-St. Clair Shores), who co-sponsored the House version of the bill (HB 4358, says the wigs would be covered as any other prosthetic would.
“It helps provide children with the dignity that they deserve,” Hertel said. “They play with their friends, and go to school and go to sporting events, to be able to do that comfortably, right? So they feel just like the other kids in their classroom and that they’re competing with — so that they’re comfortable to go about their daily life.”
“These children suffering from a condition that causes hair loss are also sometimes the victims of bullying, which just makes their situation that much worse,” added Sen. Steve Bieda (D-Warren), the sponsor of Senate Bill 234. “A wig can make all the difference in the world in a child’s outlook and attitude, but the cost can be prohibitive for many families. That’s why in these cases it’s just common sense to have insurance coverage for wigs for kids.”
The law would apply to kids under age 19.
Maggie Varney, Founder and CEO of Wigs 4 Kids of Michigan which provides free wigs, is a big supporter of the legislation.
She says her group and others like it can’t keep up with the need; and unfortunately, can’t reach all of the kids in Michigan who need wigs.
“Without this, there’s no funding for a program like this, and the centers don’t offer children’s wigs because they’re so labor-intensive and cost-prohibitive,” she told WWJ’s Zahra Huber. “And the families truthfully can’t afford them.”
Varney says purchasing a child’s wig can cost $2,500 to over $3,000.