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March 9, 2012
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March 9, 2012

Hearing Aid Costs – Ways to save money in the purchasing process

hearing aid costs

The tremendous advancements in digital hearing aids over the last 15 years have transformed a simple amplification device into technology that provides speech enhancement, noise reduction, feedback cancellation, wireless connection to your favorite technologies, and much, much more. These technological advancements had an impact on hearing aid costs. Here’s how to save some money in the purchase process. 

Averaging anywhere from $2,000 to $6,000 a pair, hearing aids can be a major investment.

Averaging anywhere from $2,000 to $6,000 a pair, hearing aids can be a major investment. Complicating matters is the fact that many insurance plans do not cover the full, or even partial, cost of the devices. While these very real financial considerations can cause families and individuals to pause, for many, hearing aids are an absolute necessity.

Those who are profoundly deaf or who have severe hearing loss and cannot benefit from traditional hearing instruments may be considering another hearing option – cochlear implants. These electronic devices, which are implanted just under the skin near the ear and then coupled with an external transmitter, are exponentially more expensive than hearing aids, but are also more likely to be covered by insurance. profoundly deaf, they are the only way to access sound.

While cost is a serious consideration when contemplating hearing aids or cochlear implants, the substantial benefits that improved access to hearing can bring – personally, socially and professionally – means the investment will pay off for years to come.

Here, then, are a few funding tips that may help make the cost of your hearing aids or cochlear implants a bit more affordable. Keep in mind that, while the list below gives an overview of some of your options, you should definitely do a little digging youself to find out what’s available in your area.

The Hearing Aid Route

Insurance coverage for the purchase of hearing aids can be tricky – or impossible — to find. In many cases, your insurance plan will cover a doctor’s exam to determine that you need hearing aids. Frequently, however, the plan will only cover a portion of the cost of the hearing aids, or none at all.

Currently in the U.S., about one third of the states require insurance companies to cover hearing aids for children, sometimes until those children are old enough to graduate from college. Here is a list of current state insurance mandates as provided by the American Speech Language Hearing Association (ASHA).

Non-profit and service organizations, like the Lions Club or Kiwanis, often spearhead efforts in their local communities to make hearing aids more affordable. They do so by partnering with major manufacturers to get price breaks, and are just one example of how local organizations near you can help.

Additionally, many workplaces offer Medical Flexible Spending Accounts, which allow you to contribute pre-tax dollars to use toward health care. Hearing aids, as well as batteries and other accessories, can then be purchased under these plans.

In the U.S., hearing aid costs can often be itemized on annual tax returns, while local rehabilitation services may offer low-interest loans or other benefits to make your hearing aid purchase affordable.

U.S. military veterans are often provided with benefits that may cover the cost of hearing aids. These benefits can vary depending on the situation. Contact your Department of Veterans Affairs for the quickest and most accurate way to check your specific eligibility.

The Cochlear Implant Option

Since cochlear implants are a medical procedure involving surgery and post operation follow-up, they are several times more expensive than hearing aids. They are also far more likely to be covered by private health insurance policies. Medicare and the Veterans Administration also provide coverage for the implants and the surgery.

A call to your insurer is the first step in determining what portion of your medical bills will be covered. Most insurance companies will expect confirmation from your cochlear implant surgeon citing the medical necessity for the surgery.

You might also read over your health plan to check on coverage. If you don’t see cochlear implants specifically covered as a benefit, look for the coverage policy on prosthetics/orthotics. Cochlear implants typically fall into this category. Ensure that your benefits booklet doesn’t list cochlear implants as hearing aids, which is a common reason for denial.

If, for some reason, you are denied coverage, find out why. Ask for the reason in writing, and then base your appeal on the reason for the denial. You can also contact the manufacturer’s insurance reimbursement people for help with your appeal. Since this process can take time, it is important to start your inquiries as soon as you’ve decided that cochlear implants are an option you would like to pursue.

Hear and Now

When considering how much to invest in your ability to hear, or hear more clearly, it comes down to balancing your quality of life with the affordability of each solution you are considering.

What is the sound of a singing bird worth to you? How important is it to hear the laughter of your child? What will better hearing do for your career? In the end, you’ll have to weigh the intangible benefits of better hearing, against the out-of-pocket expenses of your selected hearing solution.

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The HearingLikeMe editorial team includes Jill von Bueren, Kirsten Brackett and Lisa Goldstein.
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The HearingLikeMe editorial team includes Jill von Bueren, Kirsten Brackett and Lisa Goldstein.