Why Aren't Hearing Aids Covered by Insurance?
A hearing aid is a device that changes the lives of millions. It's a lifeline for people who have discovered they have a hearing problem, and a hearing aid can help an individual live their lives better thanks to being diagnosed with a hearing condition, so why isn't it generally covered by insurance?
The coverage of hearing aids in the United States
According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, 23 states have insurance provisions to cover hearing aids, but some only cover children and even fewer cover adults. Even an adult with private health insurance may discover that one aspect of getting a hearing test is covered, but this is usually the cost of the exam. But why is this?
Those that have hearing loss need hearing aids to improve their quality of life. But insurance companies consider hearing aids as elective. In other words, it is a medical treatment chosen by the patient rather than being classed as urgent or necessary.
Why aren't hearing aids covered by insurance?
To answer this question, we have to look at the risks in terms of insurance. Insurance is, by its very nature, spreading the cost of a risk that is unlikely over a large group of people. With everybody paying a reasonable amount, this benefits the insurance company. Because if someone perfectly healthy falls ill all of a sudden, this isn't likely to happen, so it is classed as an insurable risk and the individual will get cover.
As hearing loss is classed as a likely risk for people, either due to exposure to loud noises in everyday life as well as it being one of the keys senses that can deteriorate with age, for the vast majority of insurance companies out there, this is the reason it is not considered insurable. The hearing loss statistics are so high, which means that insurance companies are mainly not willing to take the risk.
The issue of health insurance
Insurance companies were created to make money. But now with the notion of health insurance becoming a key part of many people's lives, this is where the problem can snowball. Insurance companies have worked to offer health insurance in recent years, but because people are insured based on the likelihood of them falling ill, it's hard to find a health insurance provider that will cover hearing aids.
But that's not to say there are no companies out there at all. Insurance companies can change their policies, but it's important to remember that even though an insurance company may cover hearing aids in the future this can severely impact the criteria for the policyholder.
For example, an individual may only be able to choose a certain provider of hearing aids. If this provider is too expensive for the individual’s budget, this may prove troublesome. Insurance companies will also want to determine the pricing or the costs if they start to get involved with hearing aids under the banner of health insurance.
The influence of Medicaid and Medicare
While there are certain Medicare advantage plans that will cover hearing aids, traditional Medicare doesn't have any coverage. Therefore, as the prevailing provider of health insurance in the United States, many private insurance companies tend to follow the lead of Medicaid and Medicare who do not consider hearing aids to be essential medical devices.
Is there anything we can do?
It's always possible to get in contact with your insurance company to discuss the matter, but the problem is more systemic than just the insurance company refusing coverage. Hearing loss is not something that has much backing behind it, especially in a political sense. Hearing loss doesn't tend to have a strong voice behind it in comparison to something like depression.
This could mean that a strong voice advocating for insurance coverage for hearing aids could be the thing to turn the tide. Hearing aids can still seem like a stigma and therefore it may not be spoken about as much. But it is one of those all-important healthcare issues that people need to be aware of.
If you have any concerns or want advice to help you going forward with your hearing aid, at Ashland Audiology we can guide you towards the best hearing aids for your budget and lifestyle. If you are looking for any help or just need to book a hearing test, you can get in contact us today at 715-682-9311.