LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – An organization that is dedicated to providing free wigs for children facing hair loss from cancer and other conditions is hoping lawmakers will jump in to require insurance companies to help foot the bill.
Maggie’s Wigs 4 Kids of Michigan has pushing for the law since 2015. But time after time, lawmakers have killed the legislation. Despite the uphill battle, the organization and supporters aren’t giving up.
“I was a shell of the little girl I used to be,” Jaleen Davis tells 6 News. She received wigs from the organization and now serves as the spokesperson.
Davis is one of more than 5,000 people to receive a free wig from the organization. She was eight when she was diagnosed with alopecia. That’s a condition where a person’s immune system attacks the hair follicles causing the hair to fall out. The condition caused her to lose all of her hair.
Hair loss is a harsh reality for many children to face.
“My mom told me I had the stomach flu and as days went on she would run her hand through my hair and there was clumps of hair just falling out of my head,” says Sophie Arini, who has also received wigs. She was three when she was diagnosed with alopecia.
Both Arini and Davis struggled to find wigs. The ones they found either didn’t fit or custom made ones would fetch a price tag of more than a $1,000. The wigs weren’t covered by insurance.
“When we get into human hair pieces, we can go up to the thousands,” Davis says of wig costs. “We’re talking anywhere from $1,200 for like a short haircut like the one I’m wearing today, to easily four to five grand.”
The wig costs add up quickly because kids outgrow the wigs. That’s where Maggie’s Wigs 4 Kids comes in.
Since 2003, the group has been providing them to kids, for free. Now, they want lawmakers to help ease the burden by requiring insurance companies to cover the cost of the wigs. That would allow the group to provide wigs to more kids.
“I would love to have a satellite office,” says Maggie Varney, founder of the group. “I would love to have places we could open where kids could come and not have to travel so far.”
Arini thinks more locations providing access to wigs would be a good move.
“I think it’s a really good idea because like if there isn’t any place that gives out wigs for free those kids might not have a wig to wear,” she says.
If the Michigan legislature passes the bill, Michigan would join 13 other states with some sort of requirement insurance companies help foot the bill for wigs for kids.