You may have heard about current efforts to get hearing aids covered under group private insurance plans in Washington State. Two key bills, HB 1222 and SB 5338, are currently making their way through the legislature. Both bills stand a good chance of passing.
Will these bills help Washingtonians age 65 and older–the age group most likely to experience hearing loss? Yes, it turns out, either directly or indirectly.
These bills are huge step toward health equity and hearing access for hundreds of thousands of Washingtonians who need help hearing, but may not be able to afford hearing aids, which can cost as much as $3,000 each. Children, working-age adults, and even young seniors will benefit the most if these bills pass.
Hearing aids aren’t covered under Medicare, unfortunately. This places a huge financial burden on many people who retired and are covered under Medicare. But this effort toward private insurance coverage will help everyone, including senior Washingtonians.
- Some 65+ seniors are still in the workforce and may have private insurance from their employer.
- These bills may add pressure to ensure hearing aid coverage under Medicare Advantage plans, or to perhaps lower the cost-share for hearing aids under these plans. Some Medicare Advantage plans do cover hearing aids, but often with a huge cost-share.
- The bills may also add pressure to cover hearing aids under basic Medicare.
- Treating hearing loss at younger ages lowers costs for everyone, as hearing aids can help reduce the risk of falls, cognitive decline, depression, anxiety, isolation, under- and unemployment, and difficulties in school performance.
All in all, getting more hearing aids in more ears benefits everyone, keeping us healthier, more active, and alert all across our life course.
For more information on the complexities of insurance coverage for hearing aids, see our “Financial Help for Hearing Aids” webpage, or read Eastside Audiology’s explanation in their recent newsletter.