Hearing loss cases are on the rise globally. The World Health Organization estimates that 2.5 billion people will have some form of hearing loss by 2050. Unfortunately, many who have trouble hearing never get the help they need.
The high cost of hearing aids is one reason. Insurance providers often exclude these devices and hearing care in general. If you’re experiencing hearing loss and exploring your options, you may have heard about Kaiser. But does Kaiser Permanente cover hearing aids? Let’s take a look.
Does Kaiser Cover Hearing?
Kaiser Permanente covers medically necessary hearing tests to check for hearing loss, but it only covers hearing aids for some members. For example, adults 65 and older eligible for Medicare can get hearing aid coverage by purchasing a Medicare Advantage plan and adding Advantage Plus to get optional benefits, including dental, vision and hearing.
The exact terms of these benefits vary by location.
Usually, the hearing coverage includes a modest co-pay for hearing tests and an annual allowance for hearing aid costs that ranges from zero to $1,500.
For more information, you can enter your zipcode on Kaiser’s website to see the benefits for your area.
Nonmembers can still purchase hearing aids from one of Kaiser’s hearing centers, but they’ll need to pay the total price upfront and file a reimbursement claim with a provider that covers hearing aids.
What Is Kaiser Permanente?
Kaiser Permanente, commonly known as Kaiser, is one of the largest nonprofit managed care groups in the States.
The California-based organization operates in eight states—California, Colorado, Georgia, Hawaii, Maryland, Oregon, Virginia and Washington—and the District of Columbia.
If you don’t live in any of the states, and you are retired, you can try getting affordable hearing care through the AARP hearing program.
What Are Kaiser Permanente Hearing Centers?
Kaiser Permanente has hearing centers across the country that it operates directly or through contracted audiologists and other providers.
The services offered by Kaiser’s hearing centers include:
- Hearing aids at competitive prices
- Hearing tests and hearing loss diagnosis by licensed audiologists
- Hearing aid repairs and damage warranties
- 45-day trial period
- Cochlear implants, hearing protection, hearing aid batteries, and other listening devices
Who Can Access Kaiser Permanente Services?
For example, anyone can purchase hearing aids from Kaiser Permanente hearing centers with a hearing test from a qualified audiologist. However, only members can get their hearing tested at a Kaiser hearing center. Nonmembers will need to contact a health care provider at a different clinic.
Buying Hearing Aids From Kaiser
As a large-scale provider, Kaiser can negotiate with hearing aid manufacturers to get bulk deals. According to their website, they offer hearing aid discounts of up to 45 percent off their competitors’ prices.
If you are not a Kaiser Permanente member, get your hearing tested by a licensed audiologist and show the result at the hearing center. The hearing test must be taken within six months of your purchase. A specialist at Kaiser will recommend a hearing aid based on the type and severity of your hearing loss.
Find Out Which Kaiser Plans Cover Hearing Aids
Only some Kaiser plans cover the cost of hearing aids. If you are a member planning to purchase a hearing aid from a Kaiser hearing center, contact the service center at 1-800-464-4000 to ask if you are covered.
Will Kaiser Accept Other Insurance?
Kaiser does not process any other insurance, but services and devices you purchase at a Kaiser facility may be eligible for reimbursement through your provider. You would pay the full amount at the center out of pocket. If your provider covers the cost of hearing aids or routine hearing exams, you can submit a reimbursement form to them.
How to Become a Kaiser Permanente Member
To become a Kaiser Permanente member, register on their official website. Select your area of care, and enter your medical record number (MRN), full name, and date of birth. Refer to your member ID card for MRN.
Once the registration is complete, choose the desired plan and pay the amount. You can also download the Kaiser Permanente app to easily access the services offered.
Read Also: Does UnitedHealthcare Cover Hearing Aids?
How Much Does Kaiser Cost per Month?
The different Kaiser Foundation health plan package types include:
- Medicare Advantage
You can contact Kaiser online to explore the types of plans available and check their hearing coverage. Once you log on, follow these steps:
- Choose a plan
- Enter your zip code and the year you would like to begin coverage
- Click “Get a quote”
You will be redirected to another page where you will need to enter basic information about the beneficiary, including:
- Date of birth
- Tobacco use
Click “Get my quote” to view the plans available. After you find one that’s suitable for you, click to apply.
People with hearing loss, on average, wait up to seven years before they purchase hearing aids.
Lack of insurance coverage is often the biggest obstacle. Kaiser Permanente offers a broad range of hearing services through its hearing centers in eight states and Washington, D.C. If you live in an area that Kaiser serves and suffer from hearing loss, it might be an option.
The basic Kaiser Foundation health plan covers hearing loss testing for all members, and several of its plans include hearing aid coverage. Anyone can purchase hearing aids from Kaiser, but nonmembers must pay the full amount at the time of purchase and seek reimbursement from their provider afterward if eligible.
Frequently Asked Questions
How much should I expect to pay for hearing aids?
The cost of a hearing aid ranges from $1,000 to $6,000.
The price can vary depending on the hearing aid style, features, company and clinic.
Will insurance cover hearing aids?
Most basic insurance plans do not cover the costs of hearing aids. However, providers often allow you to pay extra for special packages that include hearing aid tests, fittings, and other connected tests.
Is it okay to wear just one hearing aid?
Wearing just one hearing aid is fine if the user has hearing loss in only one ear. However, for individuals with bilateral hearing loss, it is recommended to wear hearing aids on both ears.
Is hearing loss considered a disability?
Hearing loss can be considered a disability if it significantly impairs a person’s ability to function in everyday life. This distinction is important when determining if hearing loss qualifies a person for disability benefits or if certain hearing-related procedures qualify as “medically necessary” under insurance.
Hearing loss is a disability when a person scores 60 percent or lower on a word recognition test.