A Major Medical Expense: How can I do this?

The high expense of purchasing hearing aids is no secret or mystery.  Although less expensive options are available, some hearing aids can cost as much as $6000.00 for the set, and usually are not covered by insurance.   With increased awareness and early diagnosis of hearing loss, larger numbers of individuals are in need of a financial plan for obtaining hearing assistance.  Unfortunately, the availability of funds for hearing aids through charitable organizations is sparse and very selective.  The Hearing Loss Association of America has published an extensive list of funding agencies for hearing aid assistance: https://www.hearingloss.org/content/financial-assistance-programs-foundations .

The product price is a significant obstacle in the mind of the consumer when making the decision to purchase (Kochkin, 2007).  An average of 5-7 years can pass between the time of initial diagnosis to the point of actually obtaining hearing aids, and the primary reason for this is the cost! It is important for adults to consider this important health care need as part of their financial planning.  The numbers of those diagnosed with hearing loss who do not use hearing aids can be anywhere from 15-40% (Chein & Lin, 2012). Many individuals participate in annual hearing evaluations beyond the age of 45 years old, leaving open an opportunity for awareness and predicting a need to be prepared for a future hearing aid purchase.  In the majority of cases, a developing hearing loss can be identified several years prior to reaching a point of true need.

The most effective way to obtain financial support for hearing aids is to save up for them over a period of time! Many hearing care providers recommend this to patients in preliminary stages of presbycusis, or age-related hearing loss.  A relatively unknown fact is that hearing aids are considered to be a medical purchase and can be tax-deductible.  A Health Savings Account (HSA) offered by an employer offers an opportunity to deposit money into a tax free savings account through direct payroll deposit over a longer time frame, so that you may painlessly purchase your hearing aids when the time comes. 

Many patients opt for credit financing such as bank loans and credit cards.  These options can allow patients to spread payments out over a longer time frame, however, the interest payments involved in these plans can be overwhelming.  At The Hearing Center at Bridgewater Falls, specialized hearing aid financing options are available through the Starkey SoundChoice program  in 12 month, 24 month, and 36 month repayment options.  All 12 month repayments are completely interest free!  A credit card program through Wells Fargo Health Advantage is also available at The Hearing Center.  All programs require a credit application.

If you have been diagnosed with hearing loss and are determined to be a hearing aid candidate, check with your insurance policy to find out about any possible coverage.  If your policy does not cover hearing aids, you may still be able to receive financial assistance through one of the organizations listed in the website above.  However, early monitoring of hearing status and long term financial planning are by far the least stressful and most effective method to ensuring that you do not have to suffer with untreated hearing loss.  Hopefully in the future, more public and private health insurance coverage options will become available to patients in need of hearing aid amplification.  In the meantime, the expense of hearing aids is certainly a formidable challenge, but does not have to be a barrier to receiving the help you need. 

References:

Chien, W. & Lin, F.R. (2012). Prevalence of hearing aid use among older adults in the United States. Archives of Internal Medicine, 172(3):292-293. doi:10.1001/archinternmed.2011.1408

Kochkin, S. (2007).  MarkeTrak VII: Obstacles to adult non-user adoption of hearing aids. The Hearing Journal,60(4), 27 – 43.