Hearing Healthcare and Obamacare

With the introduction of Obamacare, or the Affordable Care Act (ACA), many Americans find themselves wondering how this could impact their hearing healthcare.  Currently, the majority of insurance companies do not provide members with hearing aids.  That said, some plans do provide a benefit, an allowance, or allow members to contribute tax free dollars to an HSA (Health Savings Account) that can be used toward a hearing aid purchase.  Medicare also does not provide coverage for hearing aids for the senior population; this is not always well understood, as hearing loss often comes with age and hearing aids help to improve communication and quality of life.

Persons with hearing impairments are most likely hoping that hearing aids will be covered under the ACA, but hearing aids are not a part of “required coverage”.  The government still deems hearing aids as an “elective treatment”.  This comes as a disappointment to many, for as most people know, purchasing hearing aids can be a pricey endeavor, and many were hoping that the government would help with the cost and coverage.  One hearing healthcare service that is covered by the ACA is free hearing screenings for seniors (over 65) as part of a yearly wellness checkup with a primary care doctor.

Although hearing aids are not a required coverage by ACA, all hope is not lost.  Some insurance companies will still provide a benefit towards the cost of hearing aids for their members.  To find out whether or not your insurance company covers instruments, call the Member Services or Customer Service number on the back of your insurance card.  Ask to speak to someone about what kind of benefits and coverage you have regarding your hearing.  The following are some questions that will be helpful to know:

  • Do I have a hearing aid benefit, or other coverage for hearing aids?
  • If so, what is the benefit?  Is it a dollar amount every year?  Every three years?  (Example 1: Healthplan pays 80%, patient pays 20% up to a certain dollar amount, every two years.  Example 2: Patient is allowed $1000 towards the total cost of hearing aids every three years.)
  • Is the amount of benefit for one ear or two?  Some insurance companies pay per ear, some give you a dollar amount to spend however you choose (on one top of the line hearing aid or two mid-level hearing aids)
  • If I have a benefit, are there limitations as to where I can use it?  Can I see any provider I want?  Does my provider have to be in-network?  Many insurance companies do have hearing benefits, but only if you go through certain channels or use specific providers.

If you do not have hearing aid coverage via your insurance or the ACA, do not despair!!  All hope is not lost!!!  There are discount hearing programs available, like Hearing Revolution.  Our goal is to make hearing healthcare affordable and transparent.  We will set you up with a free hearing examination with one of our network providers, and we offer a wide variety of manufacturers, styles, and technologies.  We truly have something for almost everyone!  Call us today.

Until next time,

Dr. Kristin

Mike