There are several reasons why hearing aids aren’t more widely adopted, but one significant factor is their perceived high cost. According to one 2017 study, only 33 percent of Americans who could benefit from a hearing aid actually use one. However, the truth is that, in many cases, health insurance can make the purchase of a hearing aid more affordable.
Medicare and Other Government Programs
The Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services (DARS) works with both the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) to ensure that Texans with disabilities can “live independent and productive lives.” In partnership with the TWC, DARS makes hearing aids and other devices accessible to individuals who are currently seeking employment or are looking to maintain their current employment. For more information about this program, and to learn more about all the forms of assistance available through DARS, visit their “Hearing Aid Information” web page.
While it does not dispense hearing aids, Texas’ Specialized Telecommunications Assistance Program (STAP) helps disabled persons by issuing vouchers towards the purchase of assistive equipment or services directly related to their use of the telephone. Such devices and services for the hearing impaired include phone amplifiers (both for landlines and cell phones) as well as speakerphones. Several major vendors (including Hearing Aid Express) are STAP partners and offer 5-year warranties on any voucher purchase made at their stores. Learn more about the voucher application process by visiting the STAP website.
You may also be able to get help paying for your hearing aid through a local or national charity. Two prominent philanthropic organizations — the Starkey Hearing Foundation and the Hearing Charities of America — sponsor programs designed to connect the hearing impaired with those medical resources they would otherwise be unable to afford.
The Starkey Hearing Foundation’s Hear Now initiative relies on the generosity of hearing aid providers to change the lives of needy individuals. Providers don’t simply donate hearing aids, however. They also donate their fitting and after-care expertise to the program, further helping hearing aid recipients adjust to living with an assistive device. The Hear Now application process begins with a simple email or phone call.
The Hearing Aid Project is a collaboration between the Hearing Charities of America and concerned individuals across the country. The project accepts donations of previously owned hearing aids, which it then refurbishes and otherwise repurposes in order to help needy individuals. They also accept private donations and provide tools for creating personal fundraising campaigns. In addition, the Project hosts CELEBRATE SOUND Don’t Walk in Silence® fundraisers to boost local efforts at providing assistance and raising awareness about hearing loss. If you are interested in seeking assistance from The Hearing Aid Project, you can begin the application process at their website.
Private Insurance Plans
If you get your medical insurance through your employer, it’s possible that some or all of your hearing care costs may be covered. It all depends on your specific healthcare plan.
Some private insurance plans offer their members a certain dollar amount toward the purchase of a new hearing aid. A different plan may offer an allowance for hearing care costs, including a hearing test, hearing aid fittings and the hearing aid itself. And another carrier may offer hearing aid discount programs.
For example, the state’s largest healthcare provider, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas, offers discounts on hearing care services. Through the BlueExtras program, members can take advantage of discounts on hearing tests, hearing aids and fittings.
Questions to ask about insurance and hearing care
If you want to know if hearing aids are covered by your medical insurance plan, contact your healthcare provider. The easiest way to do so is to call the phone number listed on your health insurance card and then ask to speak to a representative.
During that conversation, you should ask the following questions.
- Does my plan cover hearing tests, fittings and hearing aids?
- Is my hearing aid coverage in the form of an allowance, and if so, how much does it cover?
- How many hearing aids does it cover?
- Can I get a discount on the purchase of a hearing aid, and if so, what is the amount of that discount?
- Is the allowance and/or discount applied at the time of purchase, or do I have to pay the provider directly and then file for a reimbursement?
- Does my plan exclude certain devices or hearing aid models?
- Do I need a referral from my primary care physician (PCP) before I visit a hearing care provider?
If you’re having trouble hearing, make an appointment at one of Hearing Aid Express’ 19 convenient Texas locations. Their trained staff have the expertise to address your hearing needs and help you enjoy the full spectrum of sound once again.