If you think about one of the greatest life-changing devices for better health, what comes to mind? Wheelchair? Pacemaker? Glasses? What about hearing aids? Hearing aids drastically increase quality of life. Improved conversations, more active social life, and greater cognitive functions are just a few of the favorable side effects. If this one device can change so many lives, why are hearing aids not covered by insurance?
Prevalence of hearing loss
When it comes to insurance companies, they are still businesses that need to make money. They have a list of mandates both at the national and state level they are required to fulfill. For every cost they incur, they need to cut other coverage. In the ideal world for insurers, more people would pay for coverage than would use the services. The issue with covering hearing loss is how many Americans suffer from decreased hearing. Insurers don’t want to take on the expense of covering hearing aids because so many Americans would take advantage. Instead, by considering hearing aid purchases “elective costs,” the insurers don’t have to pay the price tag. They benefit while Americans with hearing loss suffer.
What is covered?
In general, most insurance companies do not cover hearing aids. There are specific situations that do allow for complete coverage (such as a birth defect or sudden trauma), but most companies that provide insurance do not add speech, language, or hearing benefits. Some do provide a set amount for reimbursement, lowering your out of pocket cost, though some others consider this as part of a deductible. Check with your provider to see if they have a hearing aid partner, so you can receive a pair of hearing aids at a lower cost. The American Speech Language Hearing Association (ASHA) provides a look at where to turn if you need help financially covering your hearing aids.
Does my state insurance cover hearing aids?
22 states do have laws surrounding hearing aid insurance coverage. While a majority require coverage only for children with hearing loss, 4 states do require coverage for adults and children (Arkansas, Connecticut, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island). Check the ASHA to see what your state’s requirements are for hearing aid coverage. Unfortunately, some insurance plans are able to get around the state mandates, so always check with your insurance provider before making a purchase and submitting a claim.
Are there cheaper options?
Purchasing hearing aid-specific insurance is one option. If your hearing aid comes with a warranty, chances are it is only 1 year. If you plan to wear your hearing aids daily and for a prolonged period of time, it might be a worthy investment to purchase hearing aid insurance. The cost is anywhere from $100 to 400 a year depending on the insurer and amount of coverage. When you consider the average cost of hearing aids, this insurance can easily pay for itself over time.
Another option is to go the unconventional route and purchase hearing aids online – the Audicus business model. While a visit to the audiologist is still necessary to receive an audiogram, you can cut costs by skipping the traditional model and buying a pair online.