Affordable Hearing Aids
One in eight people in the United States experiences hearing loss in both ears, according to the National Institutes Of Health (NIH). And while hearing loss can impact all ages, it becomes more prevalent as you grow older. Roughly 8.5 percent of adults aged 55 to 64 have severe hearing loss, that number grows to nearly 25 percent of those aged 65 to 74.
About 28.8 million U.S. adults could benefit from using hearing aids, but only 16% of adults aged 20 to 69 of those people have ever used them. Why? There are many reasons, according to research by John Hopkins Medicine, but one of the main concerns is that hearing aids are really expensive – on average, $1,675 per ear for equipment, fittings and evaluations, according to the John Hopkins research, which also states that “…61 percent of users pay the bill themselves.”
Few states require health insurers to cover the cost of hearing aids. And Medicare does not cover hearing aids or exams for fitting hearing aids. The good news is that some Medicare Advantage plans do offer coverage for hearing care. And some Dental Savings plans offer savings on hearing exams and aids. Read on to find out more about your options, but first let’s delve into hearing loss issues such as testing, impact on overall health and the different types of hearing aids that are now available.
How Do I Know If I Need A Hearing Test?
Having your hearing checked regularly is important. Experts advise having a hearing test every annually after you reach age 60, until then every 2-3 years is optimal, or more frequently if your healthcare professional advises it or you work in a noisy environment.
People sometimes skip their checkups if they don’t think there is anything wrong. But hearing loss can creep up on you so slowly that you may not initially be aware there is a problem. Consider getting a hearing test soon if you can answer yes to one or more of the questions below:
- Do people often ask you to turn down the volume when you’re watching TV or listening to music?
- Do you often ask people to repeat what they said?
- Have you noticed that it is particularly difficult for you to accurately hear “t,” “s” and “d” sounds?
- Is it much harder for you to figure out what people are saying when you are in a noisy environment?
- Is it easier for you to understand what people are saying when you can see their face, as opposed to when you’re talking on the telephone?
Hearing loss and your health
Hearing loss can have serious impacts on your overall health. Medical research indicates that it can create stability issues that can result in falls and injuries, and may even raise your risk of dementia.
It’s unclear why hearing loss can cause dementia, but scientists have several theories. A brain that’s constantly struggling to understand speech and sound may suffer from “cognitive load,” and become exhausted, impacting the brain’s ability to create and access memories. Another theory is that hearing loss eventually effects the brain’s structure, causing specific brain cells to shrink due to lack of stimulus. And, if people avoid socializing due to their hearing loss, that can result in cognitive decline. Whatever the cause is, it is a significant issue. In one study that that tracked 639 adults for nearly 12 years, researchers found that mild hearing loss doubled dementia risk. Moderate loss tripled risk, and people with a severe hearing impairment were five times more likely to develop dementia.
Choosing a hearing aid
Hearing aids are available in five basic formats, ranging from very small devices that are worn deep in your ear canal to larger devices that sit in your outer ear or behind the ear. The type of hearing aid that will work best for you will be determined by the amount of hearing loss you’re experiencing, your age, lifestyle, budget and personal preference. Your doctor or hearing aid healthcare professional will help you choose the right device for your needs.
You may also have a choice between an analog and a digital hearing aid. Analog hearing aids amplify sounds, but don’t discriminate between the sounds you want to hear (speech or music) and background sounds. This can create difficulties in noisy places. To compensate, some analog aids offer various settings for use in specific environments such as quiet places (a library), noisy rooms (restaurants), or large spaces (sport stadiums). Settings can be switched by simply pushing a button on the hearing aid.
Digital hearing aids also amplify sound, but do so far more precisely than analog models. The small computer chips in digital aids can discriminate between different types of sound waves and duplicate how people naturally hear, enabling voices or desirable sounds like music to come to the forefront while reducing background noise. Digital hearing aids can also be programmed to match the specific needs created by the wearer’s hearing loss pattern. Overall, digital hearing aids provide a far more natural and nuanced hearing experience than analog aids. But again, look to your healthcare professional for guidance.
Does health insurance cover hearing aids?
As noted in the beginning of this article, your insurance may not cover hearing tests or hearing aids. If you have a Medicare Advantage plan, check the details to see if hearing care is covered. You might want to consider switching to a plan that does offer this coverage if that makes sense for you.
Traditional Medicare does not cover hearing health care or aids. Some states do mandate that insurance include hearing coverage, while many states do not. Depending on the state where you reside, private insurance plans may cover testing but not hearing aids, or cover hearing aids alone. ACA (Obamacare) insurance coverage also varies by state.
One option worth exploring for affordable hearing care and discounts on hearing aids from leading brands are Dental Savings plans. You may know about these plans, which are sometimes called dental discount plans, for the savings they offer on dental procedures. Members save 10%-60% on virtually all of their dental care. What you might not know is that select some Dental Savings plans also include, at no additional cost, discounts on other health care needs, such as prescriptions, vision care and hearing healthcare and aids. Dental Savings plans that include hearing care typically start at $154.95 for an individual. And you may be able to use your Dental Savings plan to pay for hearing services and other essential health care even if you have insurance or Medicare coverage. Check with your insurance provider for more information.
Get the details on everything that Dental Savings plans offer today, and start saving on essential healthcare services as soon as tomorrow. Find out more, and choose the perfect plan for your needs, now!