COMMONWEALTH OF MASSACHUSETTS
MASSACHUSETTS GENERAL COURT
STATE HOUSE, BOSTON 02133
Senator Joan B. Lovely
2nd Essex District
Representative Sally P. Kerans
13th Essex District
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
October 13, 2021
Legislature’s Financial Services Committee Hears Alopecia Bill
BOSTON- On Tuesday the Joint Committee on Financial Services heard testimony on legislation to require insurance reimbursement for hair prostheses for Alopecia patients. The legislation addresses a gap in insurance coverage that effects people who experience complete hair loss as a result of the medical condition. Wigs are expensive and the cost puts them out of reach for hundreds. This can be devastating for young people and can affect their emotional and mental health.
H. 1135 and S.701, both titled An Act providing health insurance coverage for scalp and facial hair prostheses, filed by Senator Joan B. Lovely and Representative Sally Keranas direct health insurers to cover both hair and facial pigmentation expenses for Alopecia patients subject to a written statement by a physician that such expenses are “medically necessary.” It is similar to coverage for hair loss due to chemotherapy. The Alopecia must not be “part of the natural or premature aging process” and the prosthesis will be subject to the same limitations and guidelines as other prosthesis.
“This is a modest proposal that provides basic coverage the Alopecia patients both need and deserve,” said Representative Sally Kerans (D-Danvers), who was the original sponsor of the legislation in 1994. “Losing your hair when you’re a teenager from a medical condition is hard enough; you shouldn’t have to battle your insurance company to cover the cost of a treatment that might well prevent further health complications down the road,” she said.
“Alopecia is an autoimmune disease, and one that is diagnosed by a physician,” said Senator Joan Lovely (D-Salem). “This legislation recognizes that fact and enables these patients to use their health insurance to address a health need.”
Written testimony in favor of the legislation was submitted to the Committee by three individuals. Among them is Heidi Bratt of Ipswich, who has lived with the effects of Alopecia her entire life and has advocated for the legislation for 20 years. The announcement by Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley about her own Alopecia journey raised awareness of the issue.
The hearing took place virtually at 11 a.m. and was livestreamed on the Legislature’s website. The Committee will continue to accept online testimony until Tuesday, October 19 at 5:00pm. For instructions on how to submit testimony and to watch a recording of the hearing click here: https://malegislature.gov/Events/Hearings/Detail/3998.