Hearing loss affects one out of every five Americans, and it can lead to frustration, social isolation and difficulties at school or on the job. Although hearing aids can markedly increase the quality of life of someone experiencing hearing loss, these devices can cost thousands of dollars. Find out about some of the resources available so that cost does not prohibit you from getting the hearing devices that can help you regain your life.
1. Private Health Insurance
Depending on your employer and your specific benefits, your private insurer may cover part or all of the cost of hearing aids. You might receive partial reimbursement for the total cost or receive a discount if you purchase your devices through a contracted provider. Contact your specific company to ask about what you can receive through your benefits package in your state.
2. Other Insurance Benefits
If you are a government employee, you might be eligible for assistance with hearing aids through the Federal Employee Health Benefit Program through Blue Cross Blue Shield. They will cover a maximum of $2500 for hearing aids every three years.
Medicaid is an income-based, government-sponsored program whose benefits vary greatly according to the state in which you reside. Contact your state’s Medicaid program, your audiologist or the national Medicaid hotline with specific questions regarding your eligibility.
Medicare is a federal health care program for senior citizens and people with disabilities. In most cases, Medicare does not cover any of the cost of hearing devices. However, many people supplement their coverage by paying an additional premium with a so-called Medicare Advantage provider. Some of these do help with the cost of audiological devices, so be sure to check with your provider if you have one.
3. The Department of Veterans Affairs
The VA is the largest provider of hearing aids in the U.S. They will cover the cost of hearing aids if you have a service-connected disability; were a prisoner of war; received a Purple Heart; are housebound or need care from aids/attendants; have hearing loss related to a disease or condition for which you are being treated at a VA facility; if your hearing loss is so severe that it affects your daily life or medical treatment. Check with a VA representative in your area to see if you are eligible.
4. Charities and Other Options
In addition to governmental benefits and private insurance, there are numerous non-profit and charitable organizations who provide free or affordable hearing devices. The list is long, and new players frequently enter the market, so be sure to check with your audiologist for local options. Some of the major providers include the following:
- AUDIENT program (through the Northwest Lions Foundation for Sight and Hearing; 1-866-956-5400)
- Starkey Foundation Hear Now program (1-800-328-8602)
- Easter Seals (check your local listings for an office near you)
- Travelers Protective Association of America Scholarship Trust for the Hearing Impaired (needs-based assistance for hearing devices)
- Assistive technology loans through RESNA Alternative Financing and Telework Technical Assistance Project (AFTAP)
- CareCredit (financing that you sign up for similar to a credit card that is used for services including health care, hearing devices and even veterinary medicine. There are no annual costs, up front fees or pre-payment penalties. Monthly payment options are available.)
If you or someone you love is experiencing hearing loss, don’t be discouraged by the high cost of hearing devices. A wide variety of resources are available that can make it much easier to get the life-changing hearing aids you need.