Hearing loss is one of the top three global health issues with 360 million people affected, yet only 25% of those people seek treatment. The most commonly cited obstacle to treatment is cost. Hearing aids can be expensive (but don’t have to be), and the fact is, most insurance companies do not cover them.
Currently, there are three states that mandate insurance companies to cover hearing aids for adults. So, if you don’t live in New Hampshire, Rhode Island or Arkansas your insurance company can choose not to pay for your hearing aids and most insurance companies do just that.
When the Social Security Act was passed on August 14, 1935, its purpose was to provide benefits for older workers, victims of industrial accidents and aid for their dependents. At inception, benefits for hearing aids and glasses were not included. Back then, the exclusion may have seemed logical due to shorter life expectancies. A smaller senior population meant less people affected by age-related hearing loss. Life expectancies have extended another three decades in the 82 years since the law was enacted, almost doubling the number of seniors. Today, the exclusion of hearing aid coverage is woefully outdated, but it would take an act of Congress to change it, so it remains a state issue.
The reason why change is so critically necessary is the exact reason why the path to coverage is so difficult: the likelihood of need is so high. At its core, the insurance industry is a numbers game and adding a coverage mandate for an item that most people will need will produce a fiscal impact – for both insurance companies and consumers.
Of course, cost must be considered. However, it can’t be the only criteria. With people living longer lives, we are learning more and more about what an aging population needs to live well, and that is a wonderful thing. When a large enough population experiences the same condition, research usually follows, and the field of hearing healthcare has seen a boon in new findings.
In fact, recent research on the effects of hearing loss makes the best argument about why coverage for hearing devices is worth the cost. Studies show that a decline in hearing has been linked to conditions like: depression, dementia and brain atrophy. Those studies also indicate that hearing aids are an effective treatment for hearing loss and may provide preventative protection for some of the other associated conditions.
For a long time, healthcare professionals have said that we hear with our ears, but we listen with our brains. If our ears are sending our brain sub-par information due to diminished hearing, then the system starts to fail and now we know that the consequences are more severe than previously thought. This information could not come at a better time with some health organizations estimating that 1 billion young adults are headed for hearing issues due to the increase in personal listening devices.
Until the law catches up with the need, we can help you figure out the best hearing solution for your budget. Schedule an appointment with us to create your custom hearing health plan.