The ability to hear conversations, especially when it comes to understanding important information, is a critical element in daily living. Sadly, only one in five individuals diagnosed with hearing loss actually get the help they need from hearing aids. According to Medical Xpress, the cost is among the most common factors contributing to this statistic. Lack of or uncertainty concerning insurance coverage further exacerbates the issue.
When my Lake Charles patients discover that they have a hearing loss, and need auditory assistance provided by hearing aids, bewilderment after seeing their price is a common response. Consequently, their first concern is paying for them. Since many of my patients have BlueCross BlueShield insurance, “Does BlueCross BlueShield insurance cover hearing aids?” is a question I hear often. The answer depends upon various conditions like plan type, age, and other factors. How much or what percentage of coverage is also a consideration.
“Approximately one in three people in the United States between the ages of 65 and 74 has hearing loss, and nearly half of those older than 75 have difficulty hearing,” notes the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD). Since the primary individuals within this age range are Medicare eligible, but Medicare does not cover hearing aids, many insurance companies provide various types of supplements that do cover them.
BlueEssential or BlueCare Plus (HMO SNP)
Both of these plans include the health maintenance organization (HMO) option. HMO plans allow members to choose providers from a select network of doctors, specialists, and facilities to tend to their health care needs. Members who choose to go outside the network of approved HMO providers, coverage for services are limited or restricted. BlueEssential plans do not specify coverage benefits for hearing aids, which means that hearing care and hearing aids coverage could be part of an added option rather than a part of basic coverage. In contrast, BlueCare Plus plans do provide routine hearing care coverage, but you will need to obtain clarification of precise benefits.
Blue Advantage (PPO)
The Blue Advantage plan is a preferred provider organization (PPO) type insurance package. PPOs are less restrictive than HMOs, allowing members to choose any health care provider approved by the insurance company’s network, including specialists, without requiring a referral. Additionally, PPOs have fewer limitations and restrictions when patients choose out-of-network providers. Coverage provided by the Blue Advantage Medicare supplement insurance include:
- 2 hearing aids per year (one per ear) when purchased through TruHearing
- 2 models to choose from:
- Premium models that include 48 channels, 6 programs, and 10 styles
- Advanced models that include 32 channels, 6 programs, and 10 styles
- 3 follow-up visits with an in-network provider for fitting and adjustment of hearing aids
- 45-day trial period
- 3-year manufacturer warranty for repairs and one-time loss and damage replacement
- 48 batteries per aid for non-rechargeable models
Blue Elite (Medicare Supplement)
Blue Elite Medicare supplement plans do not have the same restrictions that come with PPO or HMO type insurance plans. This plan allows you to see any doctor, specialist, or service provider you choose and referrals are not a requirement for seeing a hearing specialist. Obtaining coverage for hearing care and hearing aids might be an added option with this plan rather than a part of basic coverage.
The primary class of individuals affected by hearing loss includes those with Medicare eligibility. Consequently, determining whether your non-Medicare plan covers hearing aids is complicated. Most private insurance plans do not cover hearing aids for a variety of reasons, according to Healthy Hearing. This does not rule out the possibility that some coverage or benefits are available to help pay for your hearing aids.
Family, individual, and group plans that are not a part of Medicare coverage provide a wide range of coverage variables that include copayment, deductible, and coinsurance for different health conditions. Various types of member discounts and specialized programs are also available within and outside the BCBS network. It requires some extensive research to understand all the available hearing aid coverage options that might or might not be a part of your current plan.
Let Acadian Hearing Service Services Help You
Determining what level of coverage you have through BlueCross BlueShield insurance can be confusing, especially for those with non-Medicare plans. Our team at Acadian Hearing Services assists in determining whether your coverage only includes hearing tests, premium technology, or complete hearing care. The first step is to fill in our quick online insurance coverage check form so that we can contact BCBS Insurance on your behalf and take the stress out of the process.
Contact us to learn more about the range of hearing care services, and best-in-class hearing technology solutions provided by Acadian Hearing Services in the Lake Charles, LA area.
Dr. Heidi J. Sorrells obtained her doctorate degree from Salus University in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania and master’s and bachelor’s degrees from Minot State University in Minot, North Dakota. She is a certified Audiologist by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) and she holds a Louisiana and a Texas Audiology License. Dr. Sorrells enjoys all aspects of working in a private practice audiology clinic but especially loves the challenges of vestibular (balance) assessment and rehabilitation.