Medicare beneficiaries in select counties in Arizona will soon have better access to hearing examinations and affordable hearing aids due to a partnership between Humana Inc.(NYSE: HUM), a leading health and well-being company, and TruHearing, a hearing health care services and hearing aids company.
One in four Americans 70 years and over has a hearing impairment, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Traditionally, hearing aids have been unaffordable and out-of-reach for many Medicare beneficiaries. According to a National Academies of Sciences report on hearing aid affordability, the average retail price of two hearing aids in 2013 was approximately $4,700. Original Medicare covers diagnostic hearing exams if a patient’s health care provider orders the test to see if medical treatment is needed. Otherwise, original Medicare does not cover hearing exams, hearing aids, or exams to fit hearing aids.
Humana is including this hearing aid benefit on certain Medicare Advantage plans offered for the 2017 plan year in Arizona. The benefit allows for one annual routine hearing exam at no cost to the member and introduces a copayment for hearing aids, simplifying the cost. Members will be able to obtain two hearing aids per year (one per ear) with the choice of a standard TruHearing hearing aid for a $699 copay or a premium TruHearing hearing aid for a $999 copay; copays are per hearing aid.
Members who don’t have access to these plans may still have access to Humana Medicare Advantage plans that include hearing aid benefits through other companies that provide hearing services and hearing aids. However, these benefits typically have a $1,000 hearing aid allowance, rather than fixed copays.
TruHearing hearing aids include three provider visits for fittings and evaluations within the first year of the hearing aid purchase, a 45-day trial period, a three-year extended warranty and 48 batteries per aid – all at no extra cost to the member. The hearing aids offer wireless connectivity to your phone or tablet and come in a variety of sizes, colors and styles.
The hearing aid benefit is offered on Humana Medicare Advantage HMO plans available in La Paz, Maricopa, Mohave, Pima, Pinal and Yavapai counties. People with Medicare may select these plans during the annual Medicare enrollment period, which runs Oct. 15 through Dec. 7, 2016. Those selecting a plan with this option will be able to start using the benefit Jan. 1, 2017.
“Hearing is an important part of our everyday lives. Studies have shown that hearing loss is associated with depression and anxiety, which can impact a person’s relationship with friends and family and their participation in social activities,” said Rick Beavin, Desert States president for Humana’s Senior Products. “The new hearing aid benefit with TruHearing not only helps take the guesswork out of the cost of a hearing aid, but will also go a long way to helping our members hear better, improving their overall health and well-being.”