According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, only around 25% of adults in the United States who need hearing aids have them. The foundation adds that while most private insurance plans pay for a hearing test, they don’t typically help with the cost of hearing aids. The few plans that do may only provide $500 to $1,000 every two to five years toward the cost of a hearing aid. In other cases, an insurance plan may provide access to “discount” pricing through third-party vendors.
Unfortunately, many people assume they have good coverage for hearing aids and wait until the end of the year to use their insurance benefits. But when they schedule a hearing evaluation, they find out their benefits are negligible or soon to expire.
To be prepared, find out what your benefits are long before you intend to use them, especially if you want to purchase new hearing aids. To be sure there are no surprises, call the audiology clinic where you prefer to be seen and ask if they accept your insurance. Then ask them if they can check your benefit to see what’s covered or how your specific plan works. It’s best to let the provider you see check on benefits so they can clearly review what your plan offers.
Be aware that many professional audiology clinics accept insurance as payment, but some big box stores do not.
When the clinic checks your insurance benefit, be sure to find out exactly what’s covered. For example, ask if you will have to meet a high deductible before coverage for hearing aids kicks in, and if you have to use a specific clinic or brand.
If you find that’s the case, when your plan comes up for renewal, get a clear understanding of how these plans actually work and what, if any, real benefits they have for hearing aids. Associated Audiologists is happy to help you determine whether a plan is of true benefit to you. This is especially true for Medicare Advantage plans.
You also may have a Flexible Spending Account (FSA) through your employer. You can use this plan to save and pay for copayments, deductibles, some medications, and some other health care costs, including hearing aids. Using an FSA also can reduce your taxes.
A Health Savings Account, or HSA, is another type of savings account that lets you set aside money on a pre-tax basis to pay for qualified medical expenses, including hearing aids. By using untaxed dollars in an HSA to pay for deductibles, copayments, coinsurance, and some other expenses, you may be able to lower your overall health care costs. HSA funds generally may not be used to pay premiums.
While HSA funds roll over from year to year if you don’t spend them, FSA plans generally do not, and health insurance plan benefits must be used before the end of the year.
As you investigate who you would like to work with and the brand of hearing aids you think would be the best option for you, keep in mind that your audiologist can be a very helpful guide on this journey. Audiologists are doctoral-level health care professionals who have advanced experience in diagnosing and treating hearing loss. Independent clinics, like Associated Audiologists, offer most major brands of hearing aids to choose from, not just one brand. This helps you find the best solution for your specific hearing loss, lifestyle and budget.
Your audiologist should be an expert in the many features today’s hearing aids offer, and should be able to answer your questions regarding whether one brand has an advantage over another in terms of the sound quality and features it offers.
So, don’t wait until the last minute to start asking questions about whether your insurance plan covers the cost of hearing aids, and don’t assume it does.
If you’re still trying to figure your benefits out, Associated Audiologists has created a special guide to help called “Your Guide to Insurance and Hearing Aids.”
The useful information included in this guide can help you better understand the complexities of your insurance plan, especially when it comes to hearing aids. This resource also offers examples of patients and different types of coverage, and what their plans cover.
The Associated Audiologists staff has the expertise to check and verify your insurance coverage, as well as provide detailed estimates of hearing aid recommendations and costs. We also can provide you with the receipts necessary for reimbursement from your flexible spending plan and accept health savings account plan payments.