Hearing aids can greatly enhance your quality of living and independence. Unfortunately, many individuals who have a hearing loss shy away from treatment for a variety of reasons. Among those, I often encounter have to do with the cost of hearing aids and insurance coverage. Are hearing aids covered by insurance? I can offer no simple answer to that question, but I can provide you with some help for navigating through the complicated world of insurance coverage for hearing aids.

Insurance and Coverage Types

One reason that determining whether your insurance covers hearing aids is difficult has to do with the broad range of coverage types. A quick glance at various types of insurance and the coverage they offer will provide some basic insight into what you can expect.

Medicare and Medicaid

Medicare and Medicaid coverage of hearing aids includes a mixture of good and bad news. Presently, Medicare does not cover hearing tests or hearing aids, but in some states, Medicaid does provide some cost benefits. Medicaid complies with mandated Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnosis, and Treatment (EPSDT) for children under the age of 21 in all states, but Medicaid in Alabama does not provide any coverage for adults.

Affordable Care Act

Some states offer coverage for hearing aids and related expenses under the Affordable Care Act. Unfortunately, coverage under ACA follows that of Medicare and Medicaid.

Veteran (VA) Benefits

Veterans fair better when it comes to having hearing aids covered. VA benefits will cover the cost of hearing aids and hearing tests if your symptoms cause severe or direct interference to daily living. Coverage limitations include treatment in VA facilities after meeting specific qualifications.

Federal Employee Assistance

Families of those employed by the federal government receive some coverage for hearing aids. Most federal employee health plans cover the cost of basic hearing aids. You will pay for upgrades and extras, which can be deducted from your pay packet.

Private Insurance

Your chances of hearing aid coverage by private insurance, if you are an adult, are pretty slim. Children under 21 are covered due to the EPSDT mandate. However, without the addition of policy riders, your basic private insurance plan probably won’t provide any financial assistance.

Health Savings Accounts

Recent healthcare coverage shakeups have led to the establishment of various types of health savings accounts, which provide a viable solution to covering the costs of hearing aids. The most common types include:

• Flexible Spending Account (FSA) –you cover the cost, and the FSA account reimburses you.
• Health Savings Account (HSA) – works like an FSA, but with an annual accumulation feature.
• Health Reimbursement Account (HRA) – funded by your employer, who decides whether they cover the costs of your hearing aids.

Ask Your Insurance Provider

Before talking to your insurance provider, it is a good idea to prepare some specific questions to receive clear answers, including:

• What is covered? (both testing and instruments or only testing, but no instruments)
• Who can provide your hearing aids? (coverage limited only to in-network providers and what penalties for seeing a non-network provider)
• How do they bill? (direct billing to the provider or reimbursement after you pay)
• What restrictions and limitations are included? (the financial limit for each hearing aid, special qualifications for coverage, non-network penalties, etc.)

What If Hearing Aids Aren’t Covered by Your Insurance?

It is frustrating to learn that your insurance does not provide coverage, and there is a temptation to walk away from treatment. Keep in mind that leaving your hearing loss untreated is far more costly in the long term, as it contributes to a full range of additional health problems. A 2012 Johns Hopkins study connected a 50 percent increased risk in developing dementia and a 40 percent risk of developing depression in patients with an untreated hearing loss. Recent research adds to this, noting that untreated hearing loss leads to more frequent and longer hospitalizations along with increased admissions and more ER visits.

Besides reducing the added burden on your overall health, treatment for hearing loss contributes to a much more rewarding lifestyle. I strongly encourage my patients to keep looking for resources to cover hearing aid costs. Financial resources are often available from local, state, or nationwide organizations.

Alabama Hearing Associates is here to help. We participate in most insurance plans, and our staff is more than happy to help verify your benefits and lead you through the intimidating world of insurance coverage. Contact us at either of our Northern Alabama locations to schedule a consultation.

Do you know somebody that needs to see this? Why not share it?

Dr. Jan Liles

Dr. Liles earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Montevallo and her master’s degree from the University of Alabama. From 1991 to 2001, she worked with two ENT medical practices and initiated one of the first newborn hearing screening programs in the state. In 2002, she was awarded a doctorate in audiology from the University of Florida. Dr. Liles and her longtime best friend, Dr. Sheehy, founded Alabama Hearing Associates in January 2002.
    Basic Hearing Test

    A basic hearing test begins with an air conduction test. You will be seated in a soundproof booth and single-use, foam earphones will be inserted into your ear canals. The Audiologist will ask you to push a button or raise your hand when you barely hear a series of beeps (tones) presented at various frequencies (pitches) to obtain your air conduction thresholds.

    To determine whether your hearing loss is a conductive (mechanical) loss, sensorineural (permanent) loss or combination of the two, we perform a bone conduction test.  

    For this test, a head band is place on the bone behind one of the ears to obtain your bone conduction thresholds. This process provides a different form of sound transmission using vibration, which bypasses the eardrum and the middle ear bones and directly stimulates the auditory nerve. When you hear the beeps/tones, you will push a button or raise your hand.

    If bone conduction thresholds are better than air conduction thresholds (through the foam inserts), you have a conductive hearing loss. This suggests a problem with the mechanical structures (moving parts) of the ears.

    Conductive hearing loss is often a medically treatable condition for which we will provide you with a referral to an Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) physician. However, if bone and air conduction thresholds match, it indicates a sensorineural hearing loss (permanent), and the treatment will likely involve hearing aids.

    ALL INCLUSIVE PLAN

    $6,790

    Comprehensive 5-Year treatment plan with premium technology

    If you want premium “out of this world” technology and the highest level of service and expert support, our All-Inclusive treatment plan is the right investment for you.

    The All-Inclusive treatment plan offers long-term value for your on-the-go lifestyle, providing everything you need to connect with family and friends for years to come.

    Includes:

    • Stellar hearing devices from top manufacturer (rechargeable option available)

    • Wireless accessory included at no charge

    • Comprehensive Annual Visit including hearing assessment, hearing device adjustment, and 19-Point preventative maintenance valutaion

    • Bi-annual hearing aid software update and reprogramming

    • Same day diagnosis and in-office repair during weekdays for devices dropped off before 3:00 p.m.

    • 5-Year full-service repair warranty

    • Unlimited remote hearing aid adjustments

    • 100% moisture removal by Redux and cleaning

    • Hearing aid supplies (stock receivers, batteries, domes and filters)

    • $1000 contribution towards purchase of upgraded technology within 48 months

    • 3-Year replacement warranty for loss or damage (no deductible)

    • Dedicated team of hearing care experts at your service

    • Unlimited teleaudiology appointments

    • Access to our “speed of light” repair specialists

    Schedule Appointment

    Choose Your Level of Technology

    A Comprehensive12-Step Functional Hearing Assessment

    If you struggle to understand conversations in social situations, restaurants, or other noisy environments, you do not need to schedule a basic hearing test. You certainly don’t need to schedule a “free” hearing screening or online hearing test.

    You need to schedule a “Connect 365” Functional Hearing Assessment at Alabama Hearing Associates!

    Hearing Technology with a Methodical Plan

    Our community understands better than most what can be achieved when you combine technology with human intelligence and persistence. It is much the same with hearing technology.

    The latest hearing aid technology is incredibly powerful, offering stellar sound quality and performance. Wireless connections allow phone calls, music and television to stream directly to your hearing aids for exceptional clarity.

    But hearing aids do not fit and program themselves! For best outcomes, you also need the human touch and expertise provided by our Doctors of Audiology.

    How do I know my new hearing aids are working properly?

    Without verifying that the hearing aid is working correctly from the start, all of the other steps in the hearing aid fitting process are useless. The most sensitive quality control measure is something called Electroacoustic Analysis. We complete EAA on every new set of hearing aids, before delivery of repaired devices, and on an annual basis.

    What Is Real-Ear Measurement?

    Real-ear measurement (REM) is how an audiologist knows that hearing aids are working the way they should in each patient’s ears.

    Ears are as unique as a fingerprint. Because of this, every ear will collect sounds differently.

    Even if I had two patients with the exact same hearing loss and hearing aids, there’s almost no chance the hearing aids would be programmed the same way.

    Orientation, Counseling, and Follow-up

    Dr. Cliff (the creator of the Best Practice Pro Network) said it best:

    “Having a detailed orientation can dramatically improve how much success you have with hearing treatment.  Counseling & Follow-up care can also ensure that you have success for years to come.  Regular visits to a hearing care provider who spends the time to discuss treatment related information and who will maintain your devices is extremely important.”

    During the orientation, your provider will give you the tools you need to be a successful hearing aid user. Everyone has different learning styles and we want to make sure whatever works best for you is what’s used. After the 75 day adjustment period, routine checkups are necessary to maintain the hearing aids and to ensure optimal hearing healthcare. 

    Real World Adjustments

    Your hearing loss didn't occur overnight, so it will take some time to adjust to the hearing aids. Your patience and persistence will be well worth it.

    Wireless Connections

    Most hearing aids automatically come with wireless streaming from smartphones and it has been a lifesaver for those that are working remotely and spending hours on teleconferences. As for other wireless accessories, the two most popular solutions are a small microphone used in less-than-ideal listening environments and a TV streamer that streams the TV’s sound directly into your ears—which can be a lifesaver when watching British TV shows or during football season. If your audiologist believes they would be beneficial for you, they will discuss your options and demonstrate the device in the office.

    Assessing Outcomes

    To ensure the most success with your hearing devices, we measure the benefits of amplification at the end of your adjustment period—some of the surveys and tests included in the “Connect 365” Functional Hearing Assessment will be repeated to evaluate progress, quality of life, and patient satisfaction with the hearing aids.