Insurance and Hearing Aids Revisitedomar@omarkoza.com
Earlier in the year, we wrote about the basics of insurance and hearing aids. Because this is a popular topic, and one that could use more attention from a source other than the insurance company, we want to touch upon it again.
One thing has remained fairly constant, insurance companies do not provide true “coverage” for hearing aids. However, what we have seen recently is a number of insurance companies who desire to offer a hearing aid “benefit,” and why wouldn’t they? Over 10 percent of the American population has some form of hearing loss and that number is growing.
The problem with insurance companies offering a benefit for hearing aids is most of the insured do not understand the process of achieving better hearing. To most people, hearing aids are hearing aids – they make things louder and that is what is needed when you have trouble hearing. So, when your insurance company offers low cost hearing aids via the internet, or sends you to a specific, large, nationwide provider of hearing devices with a “discount” – you are likely to check it out since your insurance company promoted it and who wouldn’t want to spend less if they can help it?
In comes the fact that properly addressing a hearing loss requires a significant investment in proper professional care and technology to provide better hearing. The majority of insurance companies do not provide an actual contribution towards lowering the cost of this type of care, the type that results in the best hearing. What they can (and do) promote are “discounts” through regional providers, hearing aids available through the internet, and other types of programs often referred to as hearing aid benefits. When you look closer, it is evident that the only thing they can do to lower the cost of hearing aids and related care, is to cut out services and in some cases, professionals – the proverbial “middle man.” Online retailers have attempted to do this for years (and before them, mail order retailers). What we, and many other satisfied customers know, is that the “middle man” cannot be removed or watered down.
When your insurance directs you to a particular retailer (or even a company they own or have an interest in themselves), ask questions.
– Is this an actual monetary benefit?
– Does the insurance company allow you to choose a practice that will maximize your hearing healthcare experience and achieve the best hearing possible?
– Does the insurance company benefit from directing you to a specific provider?
While these issues are not unique to hearing healthcare, they need to be scrutinized – your hearing is too important to leave up to anyone but yourself to decide the best course of action.