By Diane Nens
Hearing loss affects one in five Americans ages 12 and older, according to a 2011 study from Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. More than 85 percent of people who could benefit from using a hearing aid do not actually use them, though, often because of the high cost.
Hearing aids can often cost thousands of dollars, but there are cost-saving options available. One place to check for savings is your health plan. For example, UnitedHealthcare offers a discount program that enables its vision plan participants to save hundreds of dollars on hearing aids by purchasing them for as low as $649.
The discount program already has been available to people enrolled in many UnitedHealthcare medical plans, including employer-sponsored, individual and Medicare Advantage plans, as well as Medicare Part D plans. Some UnitedHealthcare Medicare plan customers pay no out-of-pocket costs for the hearing aids.
Affordable access to hearing aids can greatly improve quality of life, and cost does not have to be a barrier to achieving that end.
Hearing health plays a critical role in people’s overall health and well-being. Untreated hearing loss can affect a person’s ability to stay connected to friends and family, contributing to social isolation, depression and lower income.
Individuals interested in purchasing a hearing aid should ask a health care provider, including primary care physicians or audiologists for a hearing test. The test results (an audiogram) are then used to identify an appropriate hearing aid and program it accordingly. In many cases, consumers can have the device sent directly to their residence or be fitted in-person.
Hearing aids have evolved significantly over the years. For example, hi HealthInnovations’ hearing aids use advanced technology to enhance speech understanding and listening comfort. Each hearing aid is custom-programmed to a user’s specific hearing needs based on his or her hearing test results. Every hearing test result and hearing aid order is reviewed by a licensed hearing professional to determine suitability.
Cost is a significant barrier for millions of Americans suffering from hearing loss, and this new discount will help make hearing aids more accessible and affordable for more people nationwide.
Diane Nens is a Michigan-based audiologist with hi HealthInnovations, a UnitedHealth Group company and provider of high-tech, custom-programmed hearing aids.