Does health insurance cover hearing aids

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catdude
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Does health insurance cover hearing aids

Post by catdude » Mon Sep 24, 2018 2:06 pm

Howdy y'all...

Last week I had a hearing exam at Costco. They found I have significant hearing loss, and I ordered hearing aids... I'll be going back over to Costco later today for the fitting... I'm just curious to know what my prospects are for getting the hearing aids covered by health insurance (in my case, BCBS). Have any of y'all gotten your insurance company to pay for them? Just wonder what the general rule is.
catdude | | All generalizations are false, including this one.

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arcticpineapplecorp.
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Re: Does health insurance cover hearing aids

Post by arcticpineapplecorp. » Mon Sep 24, 2018 2:10 pm

every plan is different. consult you specific plan. Call bcbs to find out what if any portion they will cover. I don't believe there is a general rule. Big difference between a gold plan and a bronze plan for instance. Know what your specific plan covers. It's also possible costco knows or can contact bcbs since they'd be billing them. If so, perhaps costco can tell you what's covered/what's not. But I would contact the insurer. That's who you're paying. So ask them what you get for what you're paying.
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dm200
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Re: Does health insurance cover hearing aids

Post by dm200 » Mon Sep 24, 2018 2:20 pm

Seems to me that it would have been better to determine details (if any) of such coverage BEFORE doing anything.

mortfree
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Re: Does health insurance cover hearing aids

Post by mortfree » Mon Sep 24, 2018 2:22 pm

As I vaguely remember, If you have a vision plan that might cover the hearing aids.but probably not from Costco

Something else to look into.

I own Costco hearing aids. Insurance didn’t cover (BCBS)

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Sasquatch
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Re: Does health insurance cover hearing aids

Post by Sasquatch » Mon Sep 24, 2018 2:51 pm

I have Aetna from Megacorp. They paid $1750 toward my aids. I needed a special hearing aid that Costco did not carry so I went to a small private shop.

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dm200
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Re: Does health insurance cover hearing aids

Post by dm200 » Mon Sep 24, 2018 2:57 pm

No personal experience (thank goodness, for now), but I know several folks who use them. One thing recommended (if you can do this) is the ability to test them and return them is not satisfactory.

ndchamp
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Re: Does health insurance cover hearing aids

Post by ndchamp » Mon Sep 24, 2018 4:23 pm

TruHearing with BCBS covers $2500 (I think) per aid using their preferred providers. I don't know if they do Costco. You could call them with your BCBS Insurance Number and find out what they can do for you. 1-800-334-1807 to talk with a TruHearing consultant.
I have Fed Blue and my out of pocket was $500 on my Starkey Z90's a few years ago. That included a remote.

likegarden
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Re: Does health insurance cover hearing aids

Post by likegarden » Mon Sep 24, 2018 4:46 pm

5 years ago I bought hearing aids for both ears for $3,900, and BCBS paid $300. 2 years before that an audiologist wanted $5,600 for hearing aids.
Presently I am with a local CDPHP medical insurance, and they have an agreement with a national office which has contracted with local audiologists for low cost hearing aids, The best hearing aids cost around $2,000 for both ears, that will be the next place I will contact.

Rupert
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Re: Does health insurance cover hearing aids

Post by Rupert » Mon Sep 24, 2018 5:32 pm

The general rule is that hearing aids are not covered by health insurance, but the rule varies by state. In my state, for example, BCBS does not cover hearing aids at all, even for children. You should have some document from your insurance company -- usually called a Summary of Benefits and Coverage -- that answers your question.

zeppy
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Re: Does health insurance cover hearing aids

Post by zeppy » Mon Sep 24, 2018 5:41 pm

My insurance (United Health Care) paid $500 on pair of Phonak hearing aids costing $5,000.

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Watty
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Re: Does health insurance cover hearing aids

Post by Watty » Mon Sep 24, 2018 5:51 pm

You need to call your insurance company and ask. Before I retired it turned out that my work provided insurance covered them even though it it did not say so in the plan literature summary. As I recall it paid something like 80% of a base model for my wife but we paid a lot additional to get a higher end model.

The problem was that it only covered them at an in network doctors office so in retrospect it might have been less expensive to get them at Costco even though it would not have been covered by the insurance.

Every policy id different so you really need to research this with you insurance company.

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catdude
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Re: Does health insurance cover hearing aids

Post by catdude » Mon Sep 24, 2018 5:59 pm

Hi, OP here. Thank you all for the feedback. I'll give BCBS a call this week and see what they say. I'm not expecting good news but I'll call them anyway. I like to think that I'm still ahead of the game cuz I got the hearing aids from Costco for $2500, much less than what I would've paid elsewhere (even with a partial insurance reimbursement).
catdude | | All generalizations are false, including this one.

Pigeon
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Re: Does health insurance cover hearing aids

Post by Pigeon » Mon Sep 24, 2018 6:03 pm

The only way you will know is to look at your particular policy. In general though, hearing aids aren't covered. I'm in a similar boat. My hearing is deteriorated and I am going to ask my doctor for a referral to an audiologist for hearing aids. In my case, I have excellent medical insurance but it will only pay 20%, and even that much is new this year--it used to be nothing.

Sadly, I don't live anywhere near Costco. Costco overwhelmingly seems to be the best place to get hearing aids as it is much more expensive elsewhere. I have a relative who paid $8,000. Yikes.

EZ James
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Re: Does health insurance cover hearing aids

Post by EZ James » Tue Sep 25, 2018 6:25 am

I have low-option insurance with GEHA and asked if they would pay anything for HAs purchased at Costco. The answer was they would pay up to $2500 per 3 yr period.

I picked up the hardware a few days ago and the total was a bit under $3k but the improvement in my hearing was enough that I would have purchased them even if the insurance would reimburse nothing.

My hearing loss is so great I did not have a choice of brands. Costco said the Phonak Brio 3 was the only one they had with enough power to help me.


EZ

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catdude
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Re: Does health insurance cover hearing aids

Post by catdude » Tue Sep 25, 2018 1:45 pm

Pigeon wrote:
Mon Sep 24, 2018 6:03 pm
I have a relative who paid $8,000. Yikes.
:shock:
catdude | | All generalizations are false, including this one.

dadu007
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Re: Does health insurance cover hearing aids

Post by dadu007 » Tue Sep 25, 2018 4:31 pm

Did you know that the average person with known hearing loss waits seven years to get hearing aids? Nobody does that with eyeglasses. Sad.

From the trade journal article below: "The majority of people with significant hearing loss and/or who have difficulty understanding speech in quiet or noise appear to avoid hearing aid amplification. The traditionally accepted—and often quoted—time lapse between a person noticing a reduction in hearing (and/or listening ability) and subsequently acquiring a professional consultation and/or acquiring hearing aids is seven long and frustrating years. Of course, some people seek amplification sooner and some delay longer. However, “seven years” appears to be the average “lag time” for those who acquire amplification."

http://www.hearingreview.com/2014/04/ri ... g-message/

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dm200
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Re: Does health insurance cover hearing aids

Post by dm200 » Tue Sep 25, 2018 4:37 pm

My wife says (and has said for years) that I have a "hearing problem" and should address it with my doctor(s).

However, on several occasions, doctors or nurse practitioners say that my hearing is fine. :happy

Pigeon
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Re: Does health insurance cover hearing aids

Post by Pigeon » Wed Sep 26, 2018 6:45 am

dadu007 wrote:
Tue Sep 25, 2018 4:31 pm
Did you know that the average person with known hearing loss waits seven years to get hearing aids? Nobody does that with eyeglasses. Sad.

From the trade journal article below: "The majority of people with significant hearing loss and/or who have difficulty understanding speech in quiet or noise appear to avoid hearing aid amplification. The traditionally accepted—and often quoted—time lapse between a person noticing a reduction in hearing (and/or listening ability) and subsequently acquiring a professional consultation and/or acquiring hearing aids is seven long and frustrating years. Of course, some people seek amplification sooner and some delay longer. However, “seven years” appears to be the average “lag time” for those who acquire amplification."

http://www.hearingreview.com/2014/04/ri ... g-message/
I can understand why completely. I've known I need them for years, but I put it off and am only now about ready to do it. I expect that out of pocket for me will be around $5K, based on a few friends and relatives' experience. There is no Costco anywhere nearby. In general, hearing aids suck. They need new batteries constantly. They are small and easy to lose. Personally, I don't know anyone who has had a really satisfactory experience with them comparable to the ease of eyeglasses.

There's also the stigma. I'm still working. Hearing aids still scream "old person" to most younger persons. That's not an advantage most work environments. To be fair, neither is me constantly saying, "Huh? What? Could you repeat that?"

Rupert
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Re: Does health insurance cover hearing aids

Post by Rupert » Wed Sep 26, 2018 7:00 am

Pigeon wrote:
Wed Sep 26, 2018 6:45 am
dadu007 wrote:
Tue Sep 25, 2018 4:31 pm
Did you know that the average person with known hearing loss waits seven years to get hearing aids? Nobody does that with eyeglasses. Sad.

From the trade journal article below: "The majority of people with significant hearing loss and/or who have difficulty understanding speech in quiet or noise appear to avoid hearing aid amplification. The traditionally accepted—and often quoted—time lapse between a person noticing a reduction in hearing (and/or listening ability) and subsequently acquiring a professional consultation and/or acquiring hearing aids is seven long and frustrating years. Of course, some people seek amplification sooner and some delay longer. However, “seven years” appears to be the average “lag time” for those who acquire amplification."

http://www.hearingreview.com/2014/04/ri ... g-message/
I can understand why completely. I've known I need them for years, but I put it off and am only now about ready to do it. I expect that out of pocket for me will be around $5K, based on a few friends and relatives' experience. There is no Costco anywhere nearby. In general, hearing aids suck. They need new batteries constantly. They are small and easy to lose. Personally, I don't know anyone who has had a really satisfactory experience with them comparable to the ease of eyeglasses.

There's also the stigma. I'm still working. Hearing aids still scream "old person" to most younger persons. That's not an advantage most work environments. To be fair, neither is me constantly saying, "Huh? What? Could you repeat that?"
I wonder why children have no problem with them but older people do? My child has worn an aid since she was 4 years old. She looks forward to getting a new ear mold every 6 months so she can pick out a new color, with sparkles and swirls sometimes. Then she shows it off to her friends like it's a new iPhone, which it almost is given the functionality. (It's also a Bluetooth device that she can use with a computer, phone, smart TV, etc). She carries extra batteries in her school backpack and keeps up with them, changes them herself, no problem. Knock wood, she's never lost it despite having to take it off daily for swimming, cross country practice, etc. So I suspect that if you think there's stigma attached to wearing an aid then there is, but if you change your attitude about that and view the device as simply an amazing piece of technology that can improve your life, despite sometimes being frustrating, then it will be that.

gd
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Re: Does health insurance cover hearing aids

Post by gd » Wed Sep 26, 2018 8:06 am

My spouse is going through a similar routine; local business ran a local seminar/clinic and said "moderate to severe", booking a followup at their store which, conveniently, sold hearing aids. I insisted on a doctor's visit first which got a "holy crap you've got a lot of ear wax". Well, I'm paraphrasing. I'd start with your doctor.

dadu007
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Re: Does health insurance cover hearing aids

Post by dadu007 » Wed Sep 26, 2018 11:28 am

Pigeon wrote:
Wed Sep 26, 2018 6:45 am
I can understand why completely. I've known I need them for years, but I put it off and am only now about ready to do it. I expect that out of pocket for me will be around $5K, based on a few friends and relatives' experience. There is no Costco anywhere nearby. In general, hearing aids suck. They need new batteries constantly. They are small and easy to lose. Personally, I don't know anyone who has had a really satisfactory experience with them comparable to the ease of eyeglasses.

There's also the stigma. I'm still working. Hearing aids still scream "old person" to most younger persons. That's not an advantage most work environments. To be fair, neither is me constantly saying, "Huh? What? Could you repeat that?"
Hmmm...May I counter:
- You're on Bogleheads, so I suspect you can well afford hearing aids, so undoubtedly it is the "stigma" that has stopped you.
- However, the industry is working hard to get rid of the stigma. Take a look at brochures of hearing aids. Do you see old-fogeys on them? No, you see 55-ish vibrant, active Baby Boomers.
- You're right, I can tell you that people are more annoyed at repeating themselves over and over to you much more than they care about you wearing hearing aids; so much so that they will stop initiating conversation with you due to the expected annoyance.
- The brain needs auditory stimuli, otherwise it will atrophy. You have to exercise the auditory nerve cells or the ability to understand speech will deteriorate.
- Not using hearing aids with a significant hearing loss can lead to depression and social isolation.
- I can say for certain you have met people whom you had no idea were wearing hearing aids; there are nearly invisible options (RIC hearing aids).
- Hearing aids utilize pretty sophisticated digital processing now. They do not "suck" any more. You must separate the amplifying task of hearing aids (making sounds and speech loud enough for you) from the speech understanding. Two people can have the exact same hearing thresholds (press the button when you hear the beeps) but totally different speech understanding (how well you can identify particular words in quiet). Those people who have hearing loss due to noise exposure have basically blown out the nerve endings in the cochlea and will have very poor speech understanding, say, 50%, whereas the other person who just has hearing loss due to the normal aging process may have much better speech understanding, say 85%. Hearing aids cannot fix or compensate for really bad speech understanding. That's a cold hard truth.
-There are hearing aids now that have built-in rechargeable batteries (they come with a charger).
- Lastly, there are now Bluetooth enabled hearing aids. You can stream sound directly from your phone or TV and not blast out your spouse from the horrendously loud TV volume.
That about covers it.

Pigeon
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Re: Does health insurance cover hearing aids

Post by Pigeon » Wed Sep 26, 2018 1:01 pm

Can I afford them, sure. But I don't drop $5-8K for something that will only last a few years and is often unsatisfactory fairly lightly. That's probably why I'm on bogleheads in the first place. In my personal sampling of a fair number of people who have them, who are geographically dispersed and using various types, I've really never met anyone who thought they weren't a hassle and worked as they had hoped. This includes a number of physicians. People hear better with them and think they are better than nothing, absolutely. Some models are better than others and people have different needs. But there are enough significant drawbacks that I hear lots of complaints, certainly much more so than with vision correction.

Ageism at work is alive and well in many organizations. Yes, there are hearing aids you can't see. But if you are sitting in a meeting with someone routinely, plenty of them can be seen.

I'm not saying at all that people shouldn't get hearing aids. I'm simply responding to the question of why people tend to put off getting them when they first notice hearing loss as opposed to getting glasses. I actually was hoping to get a referral to an audiologist when I see my doctor this week, but now that her office cancelled my appointment, that may give me an excuse to put it off for a few more months...

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