Sunday, December 16, 2007
Hearing Aids - Surprise! You're on your own.
I learned something yesterday from a patient (and friend) that was a surprise to me! I did not know that hearing aids are generally excluded from insurance coverage and Medicare (insurance for Americans over 65) also does not cover hearing aids. I argued "No, that can't be true" but, sure enough...my young friend who suffered sudden hearing loss was correct. She should know as she had experienced the need to price compare and get the best deal at Costco.
Do any readers find this shocking? Hearing aids cost hundreds of dollars up to $2500. One study found that 55% of senior citizens not using hearing aids found cost to be the barrier. What about children that are hearing impaired?
Hearing aids are not a luxury. I've never known anyone to "fake" deafness just so they could wear an aid. Even the many hypochondriacs that doctors treat don't use lack of hearing to go from doctor to doctor or get lots of expensive tests. If you have hearing loss, it is easily diagnosed and treated with hearing aids. It is a medical condition.
The NHS in England offers free hearing aids to everyone who needs one. There can be an 8-14 week wait for a hearing aid. Or the patient can buy one from a private dispenser with a 2 week wait.
I don't know why this is excluded from coverage in the USA. Probably has something to do with cost, profit, lack of will. I don't know.
Posted by Toni Brayer, MD at 7:21 AM