Health insurance is a type of insurance coverage that pays for medical and surgical expenses that arise due to any illness faced by the insured. It acts as a safety buffer for people who opt to get themselves insured, providing them the satisfaction that if, god forbid, something unfortunate should happen to them their insurance company will help them pay for the medical costs that are incurred. Even though the typical insurance company covers most necessary medical treatments, a hearing aid is one medical device that can certainly turn a patient’s life around, but is still not covered by most insurance companies.

In the U.S., many states require by law that health insurance cover hearing aids. Unfortunately, most of these only cover hearing aids for children, but not for adults. New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Arkansas are the only three states in the entire country that mandate coverage for adults.

This is disastrous for the common person since the cost of hearing aids and hearing aid batteries is very high. Despite there being cheap and makeshift over the counter hearing aids available, a decent hearing aid costs anywhere between $1,000-4,000 for a piece. It should be noted here that most people need two hearing aids, thereby doubling the price.

Coverage provided for hearing health

There is a high chance your insurance company excludes the cost of hearing aids from medical coverage; however, most private insurers and traditional Medicare will pay for the doctor’s exam required for obtaining hearing aids. In addition, Medicare also will pay for an audiologist's hearing tests, if prescribed by a physician. You can find out more about coverage by checking with your plan administrator since Private Medicare Advantage plans have varied coverage.

In contrast, military veterans are safe when it comes to hearing aids. They automatically qualify for virtually free hearing aids. This is an advantage they receive from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs in exchange for the veterans’ services to the country. The logic behind this benefit is that during their service veterans are exposed to extreme conditions, such as gunfire, that sharply increases their risk of developing hearing loss.

Implications on the patient

The reason that private insurance companies fail to cover hearing aids is that they consider hearing aids to be elective. Opponents of this view argue that even though not wearing hearing aids does not pose an immediate threat to one’s life, it does significantly increase the risk of many other illnesses. Studies prove that untreated hearing loss leads to mental decline and augments the chances of memory loss, falling, dementia and other diseases. This is especially true for older adults.

Private insurers seem to ignore the psychological effects of untreated hearing loss. Patients of hearing loss view hearing aids as a lifeline. Without them, the patient’s quality of life drops dramatically. They become subject to isolation and face a decline in social relationships, professional performance, and mental and physical health. As a result, people suffering from hearing loss should look into alternate ways of financing their hearing aids.