Kaiser permanente should cover the cost of hearing aids

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I am hard of hearing and hearing aids would be the perfect solution to help me ameliorate for my loss however Medicare and private insurances do not cover any of the costs associated with hearing aids, routine hearing exams or fittings for hearing aids. And, for the most part, these services are not covered by other U.S. government agencies or private insurers, although there are some exceptions. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (which covers military service members) and some states cover hearing aids if an employee's hearing loss is job-related. Other states cover hearing aids for children younger than 15. And some high-end private insurance companies also cover some, or all, of the costs associated with hearing aids.

Based on standard hearing examinations, in the United States one in eight people — 13 percent, or 30 million individuals — age 12 or older has moderate to severe hearing loss, and the rates of hearing loss increase with age. Moreover, nearly 25 percent of people ages 65 to 74, and 50 percent of those age 75 and older, have "disabling" hearing loss, according to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD).

Hearing aids , which amplify sounds, are widely considered the gold standard and first line treatment for hearing loss — yet fewer than one in three adults age 70 and older who could benefit from hearing aids has ever used one. This proportion is even lower among adults ages 20 to 69.

As Baby Boomers enter their retirement years. Nationwide, 38 million people suffer from some degree of hearing loss. More than 40 percent of people aged 60 and older have hearing loss; for people aged 80 and older, that number jumps to 80 percent.

Not surprisingly, then, hearing aid sales represent a big business. In 2016, 3.65 million hearing aids were sold in the United States. Since the average price of a hearing aid pair is $4,700, with some prices climbing as high as $8,000, it is clear that hearing aids constitute a multi-billion industry. From its inception in 1965, Medicare has never paid for hearing aids; following Medicare’s lead, private insurance companies have almost always refused to pay for hearing aids as well. This means that typically the patient alone must cover the cost of a hearing aid.

There are very little accommodations provided to individuals with hearing loss. The insurance companies treat being hard of hearing as a choice. Kaiser Permanente is a billion dollars non-profit organization however the hearing aid services are for profit.

The cost of hearing aids is prohibitive — ranging from $1,000 to $3,500 per ear — and a lot of people with hearing loss need an aid for each ear. What's more, the devices are not meant to last a lifetime and usually must be replaced every few years. It is a dollar-and-cents issue, but it doesn't make it sense.

Medicare will cover the cost of surgery to treat hearing loss, so lawmakers do consider hearing important. Otologists and other professionals who diagnose and treat hearing loss know that the wider use of hearing aids could prevent or substitute the need for surgery to treat sotosclerosis, an abnormal bone growth around the bones of the middle ear that can lead to hearing loss. Cochlear implantation would still be needed for people with profound hearing loss. What's more, hearing aids can help reduce risk of depression and isolation experienced by many with hearing loss, according to the Better Hearing Institute. Untreated hearing loss is also linked to cognitive deficits that can have devastating effects on professional and personal lives, according to a study in the Feb. 25 issue of JAMA Internal Medicine. Not everyone’s hearing loss can be treated by surgery which is very invasive..

Otologists and grassroots groups have been lobbying at the local, state and national levels to encourage Medicare to cover the costs associated with hearing aids and will continue to do so. Hearing is not a luxury, and hearing aids are not a lifestyle choice. It is time to make some noise about hearing loss.

Senators Warren and Grassley have introduced a Bipartisan Bill to Make Hearing Aids More Accessible and Affordable and yet not much has changed for hard of hearing folks.

i attached them to this petition because they want hearing aids to be sold over the counter without a medical evaluation. 

I appreciate their efforts however why can’t insurers pay for it? 



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