The Hearing Aid Dilemma- Hearing Aid Insurance Discussed Any electronic device that is inserted into the ear or behind the ear to facilitate hearing is known as hearing aid. Hearing aid device amplifies sound volume, and this directly permits an individual having difficulties in hearing to hear, listen, interact and actively participate in normal daily activities. With this device, someone with hearing loss is assisted to hear better in both calm and noisy environment. Hearing aid is beneficial to many and its importance can’t be overemphasized. Components of Hearing Aid Hearing aid is majorly divided into three (3) parts, namely;
  • The speaker.
  • The microphone.
  • The amplifier.
How it Works Through the microphone, sound waves are received from the air; the sound wave is converted to an electrical signal before it is sent to the amplifier. On getting to the amplifier, the electrical signal power is amplified and the speaker sends them sound out to the hearing of the ear. What about hearing aids? Hearing aids are part and parcel for people with hearing issues to survive. You don't have to be an old person to have a hearing impairment, some are born with it while others it as a result of trauma. Scientific studies have shown that hearing aids help improve the quality of life. Individuals who use hearing aids are perceived to have a better cognitive function than those who do not. Moreover, they become more social, self-confident, communicate much better, greater warmth and less negative than their counterparts. People who have hearing impairment tend to become isolated and become less engaged with life. Moreover, there are occasions when the personal safety for hearing aids can be compromised. Thus they are very vital for hearing impaired people. If you have health insurance, car insurance, home insurance and life insurance why can't you cover your hearing aids? These devices might be tiny but they are very important for your well being. Thus an insurance policy can come in handy. However, should you get an insurance cover immediately after getting your hearing aid? The answer is no. This is because on most occasions new hearing aids come with a warranty from the manufacturer. Thus before taking the insurance step, you should first know the length of the warranty. Most of the manufacturers cover faulty factory workmanship. Moreover, the warranty should be able to cover loss, repair and replacement. However, it is good to note that the warranty is a one-time offer. Therefore when the warranty runs out then it is time to take up an insurance policy. The insurance policy which you take is based on the level of technology of your hearing aids. For instance, on average, a hearing aid insurance will cost about $2,300. It should be able to cover for loss, damage and replacement. However, you can go ahead and look into policies that cover water damage. You should always keep a close tab on your homeowner's or renters policy to see if it covers your hearing aids. There are instances when you have a high deductible so that you can save on money, thus the deductible ends up costing more than the hearing aids. Types of Hearing Aids:
  • Behind the ear (BTE):
Behind the ear hearing aid is made up of hard plastic little case that is connected consist to a plastic earmold. The plastic case stores all the electronic compounds. Open-fit hearing aid is a kind of BTE that is more suitable for individuals having much build up of earwax because of its design. Usage This hearing aid is mostly used by all having strong hearing loss.
  • In the ear (ITE):
ITE is used by individuals whose hearing loss is moving from mild to strong. ITE case consists of resistant plastic and it equally has many new installed features such as the telecoil.  One can comfortably hear in a noisy environment—induction loop systems installed; through the assistance of telecoil. Usage Young children are not to use this device as the need to replace it frequently with growth of ear is required.
  • In the Canal (ITC):
ITC is seen in two distinct styles, namely: In-The-Canal and Completely-In-Canal (CIC). ITC is designed to match the shape and size of the ear canal and to fit into the ear carnal while CIC fits close to ear canal. Usage To be used by individuals from mild to moderate severe hearing loss. Importance of Hearing Aids There are many importance of hearing loss to an individual, The include:
  • Improvement in hearing is guaranteed in addition to speech comprehension of individuals having hearing loss especially from damaged small sensory known as hair cell. This damage occurs through different means such as, old age, some medicines, diseases, or noise injury. Such hearing loss is otherwise called sensorineural hearing loss.
  • Through hearing aid, sound waves entering the ear are amplified. These waves are detected and converted by the hair cells into neural signals which are passed to the brain. The ear hearing loss is dependent on the damage done to an individual’s hair cell. Nevertheless, hearing aid is ineffective when damage done on the inner ear is too much. Conversion of sound waves or vibration to neural signals is not possible.
Prevalence of Hearing Loss An insurance company has the same goal as any business enterprise and that is to make money. They have a list of responsibilities which they are required by the national and federal government to fulfil. An insurance company suffers costs just like any other business. Thus they are required more often to cut the coverage. Insurance companies have more often than not been adamant to provide hearing aid insurance covers. This is because many people would opt to pay for the insurance cover rather than using the service. So the insurance company always ends up in a loss. One of the reasons why many insurance companies do not offer hearing aid insurance is because of the decreasing number of people using them. However, since the demand to provide the insurance policy is still high insurance companies have come with a better way of making money. Thus they offer hearing aid insurance when it is necessary. Moreover, hearing aids are faced with too many high costs such as having to replace them every five years. Thus they are less likely to make a profit. The hearing loss statistics have been on the rise for the past few decades, insurance companies are not willing to take up such a high risk. What is Covered? As mentioned earlier most insurance companies do not cover hearing aids. Most of the companies view hearing aids as elective costs. This is because only a few can actually afford to pay for this insurance policy. Moreover, it is quite convenient for insurance companies since they will face less loss. However, there are instances when an insurance policy is readily offered by the insurance company. Some of this situations include birth defect and sudden trauma. However to ease the burden of having to pay a hefty amount on your insurance, then check your homeowner's insurance policy. You never know your deductibles could help lower the costs. The American Speech Language Hearing Association (ASHA) provides a look at where to turn if you need help financially covering your hearing aids. Coverage for hearing aids with insurance It is of paramount importance to make sure hearing aid is encompassed in the insurance coverage you are buying. This is vital because you might need it as time goes by. It does not pay wasting time to know if you qualify for monetary assistance as obtaining it is difficult and can be late when gotten. Types of Real-life Benefits of Hearing Aids
  • A health plan can pay you an agreed amount to buy hearing aids of different costs like $500 or $1,000. This stated quantity can be allowed towards the approach of all the hearing aid purchase (either one hearing aid or two are associated in the transaction). The amount may also be permitted for one ear.  Renewal of this particular benefit is done after a period of 3 to 5 years.
  • You may also get an amount of money to buy a hearing aid when you buy insurance coverage from a specific provider. An agreed amount of money subtracted from total price of a purchase is called an allowance. Renewal of this particular benefit is done over few years.
  • Also, a health plan can have negotiated offers with contracted providers. This simply means that, having a special discount lies in you purchasing from a particular provider. For instance, one can get a discount of 15% off the retail cost.
Hearing Aids improves the life quality of an individual as well as facilitates communication and interaction with people, enhancement of cognitive abilities such as focus, attention, which in turn directly boost the social life of an individual. It is necessary to note that obtaining hearing aids from an insurance coverage is not common, thus check your plans to know if hearing aid is covered in your health insurance. You can also verify by calling an insurance company as any insurance company usually has toll-free number.   Does My State Insurance Cover Hearing Aids? There are 22 states in the USA which require health benefits plan to cater for hearing aid insurance coverage. Most of the states require children with hearing loss to have an insurance cover. Arkansas, Connecticut, Illinois, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island require that both adults and children and adults have insurance covers for hearing aids. The requirements needed to file for a hearing aid insurance coverage vary by state. Some of these factors which vary include age, amount of coverage and the provider benefits. If you are feeling confused about your state's laws regarding hearing aids insurance policy then you should contact the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). Necessary Questions to Ask your Insurance Company about Hearing Aids
  • Is there any particular health benefit plan for Hearing Aids?
  • Is there a particular provider meant for the usage of the insurance coverage? If the answer is affirmative, ask the insurance company for the list of providers in your location.
  • Ask them if f the health insurance coverage plan available has an allowance or benefit. Inquire if you are to pay full amount to the provider before submitting the paperwork for reimbursement or if the health plan was billed from the very beginning.
  • If the health insurance coverage is limited to a particular model hearing aid or not? Ask them for your own plan and request for the terms definition, “routine hearing aids”.
  • What are the stipulations for the insurance coverage because some of the health plan will only benefit when your hearing loss reaches some degree.
One health plan differs from another therefore change of every health plan can be change with change in location and some ages in addition to other elements considered by different insurance companies. Statistics Showing the Importance of Hearing Aids Coverage Better understanding about importance of getting a hearing aid insurance coverage from an insurance company are:
  • According to the statistic of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) “ It was discovered that 2 to 3 out of every 1,000 children in the United States of America are born with a detectable level of hearing loss in one or both ears.”
  • The health specialist Mitchell RE, Karchmer MA after his studies, confirmed and made a publication that “More than 90 percent of deaf children are product to parents that have no hearing loss problem.”
  • Blackwell DL, Lucas JW, Clarke TC., another ear specialist said that “ there are approximately 15% of 37.5millions of the United States of America adults aged reports with regards to having hearing problems.”
  • From the content of the JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery journal, doctors Hoffman HJ, Dobie RA, Losonczy KG, Themann CL, Flamme GA., affirm that “Age is the strongest predictor of hearing loss among adults within the age range of 20-69, while the greatest amount of hearing loss occurs in people within the age range of 60 to 69 age group.” They also said that “About 18% of adults aged 20-69 have speech-frequency hearing loss in both ears from among those who report 5 or more years of exposure to very loud noise at work, as compared to 5.5% of adults with speech-frequency hearing loss in both ears who report no occupational noise exposure.”
  • The NIDCD Epidemiology and Statistics Program, using data from the 1999-2010 reach to the conclusion that “About 2% of adults within age 45 to 54 have disabling hearing loss. The rate of hearing loss increases to 8.5% for adults within age 55 to 64. Nearly 25% of those from the age range of 65 to 74 and 50% of those who are 75 and older have disabling hearing loss.” It was also confirmed from the December 2015 Census Bureau of the same institution that “About 28.8 million of United States of America adults could benefit from using hearing aids.”
From close observation of the aforementioned true facts, hearing loss is not considered a disability as it wasn’t ranked as one of the biggest disabilities in United States of America. It is also proven that hearing aid has much positive effect on individuals having hearing loss problem. Just like earlier stated, cognitive functions  such as memorization, focus, emotion, attention and others are boosted, social life are enhanced, good communication and interaction and many other things are increased. Insurance coverage of Your Children Some other notable things to know and ask about your insurance company when purchasing an insurance coverage are:
  • Know if your insurance company include your children in the health Insurance Coverage Hearing. This is necessary to know as some insurance companies do include them while others do not. There are many health insurance plans where the hearing aids for your youngest child is covered fully or partially. Nevertheless, this insurance coverage is not automatic or universal and this calls for checking your insurance company for more details.
  • Another important thing to note is finding out if your child is included in the insurance health plan. You can easily discover by taking them to a specialist for test. This is the only applicable way to diagnose such condition at a young age. From this exam carried out, their hearing capabilities is discovered. Potential complications is also discovered in time and a prompt diagnosis is carried out if hearing aids are viral. The specialist also know the correct hearing aids device to use from the test carried out.
  • How can anyone pay for hearing aids? This is an important question you need to ask. A survey made to 3,174 hearing aid users in United States of America by Kochkin, S. MarkeTrak, shows a result that the funds of insurance companies has drastically increased from 24% in 1989 to 40% in 2008. The increase is encouraging but on the other hand, it simply means that most of the purchasers of hearing aids, pay directly from their pocket. In some cases, it is also discovered that insurance companies do no cover hearing aids and if at all they do, they cover little—less than 100%.
Common Hearing Aids Funding Sources in EEUU The following are some of the common sources of hearing aid fund in EEUU:
  • Veterans Administration: Thus source of hearing aids fund in EEUU is the biggest provider of hearing aids as well as the highest buyer of hearing aids. You can check if you are eligible for hearing related service if you are a veteran or still in active service.
  • Health Insurance: Health insurance has been explained in details as stated above. You can go back and reread it.
  • Medicare and Medicaid: There is often no hearing aids coverage associated with Medicare. Nevertheless, options can be made available for you depending on your condition if you owe the Medicare advantage plan. In general, hearing aids are covered bared on change of geographic location and any other eligible reason.
  • Health Maintenance Organization (HMO): Health maintenance organization provides many options for healthcare services plans in addition to hearing aids coverage. HMO works together with different providers of network who out of agreement supplies services to their valued members.
  • Charities: You can get new or fairly used hearing aids devices often with discounts from many groups if you pass their terms. Some of the charity groups that gives this hearing aids with discounts include: Hearing Aid charitable, Hearing aid Funding, Hearing Aid Financial Assistance, Hearing Aid Charity and others.
  • Work Union: Some organizations and union of workers in the United States of America assists their workers to get Hearing Aids Assistance.
  • Family: Family relatives is another means for hearing aids funding. Every family will likely support you when you need such assistance or support.
The State Insurance Mandates for Hearing Aids in the EEUU The possibility of finding hearing aids coverage on different governmental health care programs is limited. The possibility of getting government assistance, tests on hearing, coverage for specialist appointments, and change of hearing aids from one location or state to another is thin. In most cases, you are responsible for paying additional fees or  copays inside the conditions of specific plans. Some insurance company plans are different from the state mandates. Checking if your own plan encompasses state-mandated hearing aid insurance benefits is of paramount importance. Some states like Colorado, Delaware, New Mexico, North Carolina, Massachusetts, Oklahoma, Georgia , Kentucky, Louisiana, Tennessee, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, Oregon, and Texas requires from all insurance companies to pay for hearing aids for children’s in their health benefits plans. On the other hand, states such as Arkansas, Connecticut, Illinois, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island demands an insurance coverage from insurance companies for both children and adults as well. Wisconsin State request more of  hearing aids coverage from insurance companies in their state and equally demands for both hearing aids and cochlear implants for children. The following requirements differs in American states:
  • Ages that are covered by the insurance company.
  • The amount of coverage given by the insurance company.
  • The benefit period of time made available by the insurance company and,
  • The provider qualifications.
Bearing in mind that the aforementioned requirements, laws, policies and regulations can be modified at any given period of time. Thus, it is highly encouraged that you must keep checking your community for updated insurance coverage information.  Also, knowing that insurance coverage is not common is vital. To ascertain your health insurance coverage is by checking your individual plan. Diverse insurance companies have a toll-free number for their members, so calling them for verification is needed. Finally, be clear of this health plans if your hearing aid coverage is full or partial, as it might affect the way it is being administered. Are There Cheaper Options? Hearing aid insurance is quite expensive. For this reason, only a few Americans can actually afford it. However, before opting for an insurance cover there is always the option of a warranty. A warranty is a must have if you have purchased new hearing aids. However, a warranty only covers the hearing aids due to faulty factory workmanship, loss and damage. Once they are replaced then the warranty comes to an end. A warranty lasts for about one year. If you are planning to have your hearing aids, for a long period then it would be wise to get an insurance cover. The cost ranges between $100-$400 but the amount can vary depending on the insurance provider. If things are a bit too tight and you cannot afford an insurance cover, then how about purchasing some hearing aids online. They are cheaper and as long as you take care of them you can save costs. However, you will need to take a trip to the audiologist to receive an audiogram.   Sources
  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Identifying infants with hearing loss - United States, 1999-2007. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 59(8): 220-223.
  2. Mitchell RE, Karchmer MA. Chasing the mythical ten percent: Parental hearing status of deaf and hard of hearing students in the United States. (link is external) (PDF) Sign Language Studies. 2004;4(2):138-163.
  3. Hoffman HJ, Dobie RA, Losonczy KG, Themann CL, Flamme GA. Declining Prevalence of Hearing Loss in US Adults Aged 20 to 69 Years (link is external). JAMA Otolaryngology – Head & Neck Surgery. December 2016 online.
  4. Based on calculations performed by NIDCD Epidemiology and Statistics Program staff: (1) using data from the 1999-2010 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES); (2) applying the definition of disabling hearing loss used by the 2010 Global Burden of Disease Expert Hearing Loss Team (hearing loss of 35 decibels or more in the better ear, the level at which adults could generally benefit from hearing aids).
  5. Based on calculations performed by NIDCD Epidemiology and Statistics Program staff: (1) tinnitus prevalence was obtained from the 2008 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS); (2) the estimated number of American adults reporting tinnitus was calculated by multiplying the prevalence of tinnitus by the 2013 U.S. Census population estimate for the number of adults (18+ years of age).
  6. NIDCD Epidemiology and Statistics Program, based on December 2015 Census Bureau estimates of the noninstitutionalized U.S. population, personal communication; May 2016.