There is no denying that hearing loss is one of the most common conditions affecting Americans. According to the NIH, approximately 37 million Americans report some degree of hearing loss, and the vast majority of those do not use hearing aids. As the population ages and our environment becomes louder, this number can only be expected to grow.
There are many reasons people choose not to go for hearing evaluations and purchase hearing aids. Some may not believe their hearing loss is severe enough for hearing aids, some fear what wearing a hearing aid might represent to others and some might think hearing aids would simply be uncomfortable or too much work to manage on a daily basis. However, many Americans choose not to purchase them because health insurance companies rarely cover the cost of hearing aids.
According to the American Speech-Language Hearing Association, 17 states require plans to pay for hearing aids for children, and only four states (Arkansas, Connecticut, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island) require health benefits plans to pay for hearing aids for both children and adults. Even so, the coverage available can still vary. For example:
- New Hampshire requires insurers to cover the cost of no less than $1,500 per hearing aid every 60 months. It also allows subscribers to pay the difference if they choose a higher priced hearing aid.
- Rhode Island requires insurers to provide coverage for $1,500 per individual hearing aid, every three years, for children under the age of 19, and $700 per individual hearing aid for those over 19 years of age.
These gaps in insurance leave the vast majority of American adults without coverage or with insufficient coverage for hearing aids as hearing aids can often cost several thousand dollars. Why would a device so important for communication not be widely covered by insurance companies?
The truth is, that despite emerging research linking our hearing to total health and wellness, hearing aids are still considered non-medically necessary. That puts them in the same class as cosmetic surgery. In addition, up until recently, many people either didn’t recognize their hearing loss or chose not to pursue hearing aids because losing their hearing ability was considered just one more part of aging. Without a larger push to add coverage to plans, hearing aids have remained an out-of-pocket expense for many across the United States.
The good news is that as more and more research is coming out highlighting the importance of healthy hearing and hearing aids, and individuals are becoming more vocal about the need for coverage, states may begin to push insurers to provide coverage for hearing aids.
If your insurance plan doesn’t yet cover hearing aids, and you believe you have hearing loss or have been diagnosed with hearing loss, work with your hearing healthcare provider on options. Many provide a wide range of solutions to help make hearing aids affordable for everyone.
Whether or not your insurance covers hearing aids, don’t put off getting regular hearing evaluations to monitor your hearing and manage any hearing impairment. If you are diagnosed with hearing loss, don’t be a statistic! Wearing hearing aids can help improve your health and your relationships.
If you have questions about affordable hearing aids, contact us for more information.