The clock is ticking down on 2023, and though there are still a few weeks left on the calendar, if you’re considering having your hearing checked and possibly buying prescription hearing aids soon, you should schedule that appointment now.
Why? Because typically, end-of-the-year appointments are hard to come by. Many individuals wait until the last minute to schedule a variety of health check-ups, including hearing. Often, that’s because they are waiting to see if they have met their deductibles and out-of-pocket expenses for their medical insurance plans.
Insurance coverage for hearing evaluations and hearing aids varies from one insurance provider to the next, even from plan to plan under the same insurance company. If your insurance helps cover hearing aids, you need to meet your deductible before coverage kicks in. Then, the coverage is often a percentage of the total expense.
For example, with a traditional insurance plan, if your deductible is $1,000 a year, and you’ve met that amount, and then your plan covers 80% of the cost of hearing aids, you would be responsible for the remaining 20% of what’s allowed. In this example, if you met your deductible and were purchasing a pair of hearing aids for $4,000, your insurance plan may cover $3,200 of the cost, and you would be responsible for the remaining $800.
If you have a flexible spending account (FSA) or health savings account (HSA) through your workplace, hearing aids qualify as an expense. Using an FSA or HSA also can reduce your taxes, so it can be a great way to save throughout the year for a health expense you know you need to make, and also save tax dollars.
With an FSA, you must use the dollars you’ve saved by the end of the calendar year, another reason appointments fill up fast. That also makes it important to plan carefully and not put more money in your FSA than you think you’ll use, and use what’s in there by the end of the year. In many cases, if you don’t use those dollars, you lose them. It’s good to know that if you choose to pay for your hearing aids this way, you’ll use it, not lose it.
You use your FSA by submitting a claim to the FSA plan administrator (through your employer) with proof of the medical expense and a statement that it has not been covered by your insurance plan. You will then receive reimbursement for your costs. Your employer should be able to tell you how to use your specific FSA. An HSA is less restrictive and allows you to use your saved pre-tax funds anytime for qualified medical expenses.
Another reason appointments fill up fast at the end of the year is because hearing aids are a qualified medical expense if you itemize your medical expenses on your income taxes. Be sure to talk with your tax advisor regarding claiming medical expenses though. There are specific thresholds you have to meet in terms of your total medical expenses in order to take these types of deductions. Additionally, if you purchase hearing aids through Associated Audiologists, they qualify as medical devices and are exempt from sales tax, which may not be the case if you purchase hearing aids through some retail outlets.
So, don’t let the end of the year sneak up on you. Schedule your hearing evaluation sooner rather than later so that you can take advantage of your insurance and/or FSA or HSA funds.
And, be sure to contact the Associated Audiologists team to verify your insurance plan’s coverage and benefits. Our team has the expertise to check your insurance coverage, plus we provide detailed estimates of hearing aid recommendations and costs. We also can provide you with the receipts necessary for reimbursement from your FSA or HSA plan.