Does Insurance Cover Hearing Aids?

Why do most insurance providers exclude coverage for hearing aids?

They’re not considered essential medical devices. Instead, they’re deemed “elective” – chosen, rather than urgently necessary.

“Elective” Coverage for Hearing Aids is a problem

Hearing aids are a lifeline. They help people with hearing loss communicate with loved ones, coworkers, they help stay safe in everyday situations, and are a know preventative measure of cognitive issues like Dementia , Alzheimer’s and Depression as they age. They can improve a person’s quality of life, affecting nearly every aspect of their day-to-day routine. More than 50 percent of people over the age of 75 suffer from hearing loss, and for these individuals, hearing aids are far from elective.

If you would consider how dramatically a  hearing loss could influence a person’s health and happiness, it’s difficult to understand how insurers could say that they’re nonessential and not worthy of insurance coverage. Not surprisingly, the issue extends beyond whether hearing aids are necessary or elective. It’s also about insurance companies risk vs. reward.

The Risk vs Reward
An Insurance company works by spreading the cost of health services over a large group of people so that members can pay a reasonable amount and still receive coverage. The insurance company profits when individuals pay for coverage but do not file any claims. Unfortunately, that makes individuals with hearing loss a serious risk for insurance companies. Individuals with hearing loss are very likely to file insurance claims to help pay for hearing aids, which can cost thousands of dollars. Hearing aids also require replacement every five years, which is an additional expense for the insurance provider.

As it stands,  insurance companies are less likely to make a profit on high-risk individuals like those with hearing loss. This is a  major reason why they’re less likely to offer coverage for hearing aids. Even if insurance companies do eventually provide coverage for hearing devices, they will have a major impact on the pricing of hearing devices and services, setting lower allowed contractual amounts for what can be billed.

If you have questions or would like us to find out if your insurance has a benefit for hearing please call us at 843-839-2389\ to schedule an appointment.

Do you have an Ototoxic lifestyle?

 

 

First … Let’s define what is Ototoxicity?

Ototoxicity refers to drug or chemical-related damage to the inner ear, resulting in damage to the organs responsible for hearing and balance. Ototoxicity occurs as a side-effect of certain drugs and substances, which damages inner ear hair cells and has been known to cause sensorineural hearing loss. Ototoxic substances include several therapeutic medicines (e.g. aminoglycoside antibiotics, some anti-cancer agents, loop diureticsanti-malarial drugs and aspirin), and other environmental substances (e.g. mercury, lead and arsenic). Depending on the strength of the drug and its side-effects, hearing loss or other disorders may be temporary or permanent.

Beyond prescription or over the counter medications, many people slowly damage their hearing with common substances such as caffeine and alcohol. While the impact of these substances is more gradual over the course of many years, the resulting hearing loss is typically permanent. Changes to a person’s lifestyle earlier in life can dramatically reduce one’s risk for developing sensorineural hearing loss.

Understanding Ototoxicity and Hearing Loss

Sensorineural hearing loss is one of three types of hearing loss and relates specifically to the structures of the inner ear.

After sound waves have made their way from the outer ear through the middle ear, and the waves have become vibrations created by the eardrum, the vibrations move through the inner ear structure, where they are picked up by inner ear hair cells. These cells are responsible for translating sound wave vibrations into neural signals that are processed and recognized by the auditory cortex of the brain as sound.

Ototoxicity causes the death of these inner ear hair cells, which do not regenerate. This leads to sensorineural hearing loss.

Hearing loss should be treated as soon as possible; if left untreated for an extended period of time, the neural pathways that process sound in the brain will fall into disrepair and will make treating hearing loss more difficult in the long term.

Medications that may cause hearing loss

Aminoglycoside Antibiotics

Aminoglycoside antibiotics are a strong and effective treatment for inflammatory bacterial infections such as meningitis, bacteremia, and respiratory diseases in patients with cystic fibrosis.

At the Oregon Hearing Research Center, Dr. Peter Steyger and his colleagues tested the effects of aminoglycoside antibiotics on mice, one group healthy and the other infected with inflammatory bacteria.

They found that both groups experienced levels of hearing loss, with the infected mice experiencing a higher degree.

Aminoglycoside antibiotics are frequently used in developing countries with warm climates due to their ease of storage (they do not require refrigeration). They are also used in the US, where they are administered to infants in intensive care units.

Though aminoglycoside antibiotics are life-saving in cases of lethal infection, they may cause permanent hearing loss.

Chemotherapy Drugs

For patients battling cancer, chemotherapy drugs may also lead to permanent hearing loss. Two particular drugs, cisplatin and carboplatin, have been found to affect the inner ear.

Cisplatin is used to treat solid tumors such as ovarian, testicular, cervical, lung, head, neck, and bladder cancers. Studies conducted on the ototoxicity of cisplatin reveal that “hearing loss following cisplatin chemotherapy appears to be variable…related to dose, age of the patient, and other factors, such as noise exposure.”

Both cisplatin and carboplatin are crucial in cancer treatments, but medical professionals tend to monitor hearing throughout a patient’s treatment.

Salicylate pain relievers

Salicylate pain relievers are composed of acetylsalicylic acid, most commonly known as aspirin.

Aspirin is used to treat inflammation and pain, and is also prescribed to patients with a history of stroke, unstable angina, or myocardial infarction. Salicylic acid enters the cochlea of the ear shortly after absorption, which may lead to tinnitus and sensorineural hearing loss.

Hearing loss due to salicylate pain relievers occurs more commonly in elderly patients.

Loop Diuretics

Loop diuretics are used to treat congestive heart failure, renal failure, cirrhosis, and hypertension.

Ototoxicity from usage of loop diuretics occurs in 6-7% of patients. Patients have also complained of tinnitus (a ringing of the ears) as well as dysequilibrium.

To prevent hearing loss from loop diuretics, it is recommended that medical professionals use the lowest possible doses to achieve desired effects.

Other Substances that can cause hearing loss

Nicotine

Americans consume the highest amount of caffeine at 971 tons per year. While coffee, tea and sodas are commonplace for most American households, we may be causing harm to our hearing without realizing it.

Studies are suggesting that caffeine may play an indirect role in sensorineural hearing loss. Instead of causing a loss, caffeine delays and reduces your natural ability to recover after extended exposure to loud noises like concerts or power tools. The ear will work hard to repair the damage from an occasional rock concert, but when consuming caffeine that repair process is delayed according to Montreal based researchers.

Alcohol

Alcohol has long been villainized for causing a host of health problems including liver damage, high blood pressure and heart disease. If alcohol makes a frequent appearance in your routine, you’ll need to add hearing loss to the list of potential health consequences.

Alcohol damages the central auditory cortex, the part of your brain responsible for deciphering sounds brought to it by your ear. So while your ears may be in perfect working order, your brain may have trouble understanding what it’s hearing.  Alcohol intake seems to most often affect a person’s ability to process lower frequency sounds.

In a study out of London, participants usually regained their normal hearing abilities once they stopped drinking. However researchers hypothesize that repeated alcohol induced hearing loss can permanently damage hearing abilities over time.

Caffeine

In a recent study out of Japan, researchers spent 8 years tracking the hearing abilities of over 50,000 participants. Researchers concluded that smoking is in fact associated with an increased risk for hearing loss, with the number of cigarettes impacting the level of risk.

Amazingly the risk of hearing loss declined for those who quit smoking even as few as 5 years before the start of the study. The findings are encouraging for those wishing to improve their health by ending a nicotine habit.

If you have questions or concerns, you should have your hearing evaluated further by a certified hearing professional. This evaluation is simple and painless but could mark the beginning of a better life. Best part, it’s free!

Click here to schedule your free hearing assessment.

Benefits of Hearing Loss Treatment

Benefits of Hearing Loss Treatment

Benefits of Hearing Loss Treatment

Care you considering hearing aids but are not sure if they are right for you? You are not alone. Hearing loss is a health condition that affects approximately 48 million Americans, according to Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA), and is the third most common health condition behind arthritis and heart disease.

Stereotypes lead many to believe that seniors are the only population affected by hearing loss. However, nearly a fifth of all Americans aged 12 and older have a hearing loss severe enough to negatively affect communication, according to a study by Johns Hopkins published in The Archives of Internal Medicine in 2011. It is estimated that Americans living with hearing loss outnumber those living with Parkinson’s, Epilepsy, Alzheimer’s, and Diabetes combined. Yet, experts also estimate that only about 20 percent of people who could benefit from wearing hearing aids actually wear them.

There are many proven benefits of wearing hearing aids, including improved communication and comprehension, decreased listening effort, and staying connected to friends and family. These are just a few of the many advantages of wearing hearing aids. If you are still unsure if they are for you, here are five benefits of treating disabling hearing loss with hearing aids:

  • Better Salary at Work

A study by the Better Hearing Institute has found that people with untreated hearing loss can earn as much as $30,000 less than their counterparts with normal hearing. It also found that particular risk lessened by more than 90 percent when people with mild hearing loss wore hearing aids, and almost 77 percent for individuals with moderate-to-severe hearing loss. Along with the benefits to your overall health, it is always in your best interest to perform at your best in your place of work to ensure continued success.

  • Slow Cognitive Decline

Many studies have linked untreated hearing loss to an increased risk of developing dementia and mental fatigue and cognitive decline. Ongoing studies continue to show the correlation between untreated hearing loss and the absence of hearing aids. Hearing loss, when left untreated, can accelerate atrophy in the auditory nerve system of the brain, where speech and comprehension occur, according to a study by the University of Pennsylvania.

However, researchers have found that hearing aids not only slow atrophy, but also improve your ability to hear and your brain’s ability to convert sounds into information. This promising area of research supports that combating disabling hearing loss with hearing aids could indeed slow cognitive decline.

Satisfaction with Hearing Aid’s Performance of

A study by the Better Hearing Institute, a non-profit, showed that over 91 percent of people who bought a hearing aid last year were satisfied with their purchase. Almost 90 percent of people who currently wear hearing aids would recommend them to a friend with hearing loss.

Quality of Life

It has been found that people who wear hearing aids to treat their hearing loss have a better quality of life than those who leave their hearing loss untreated. Communicating with family and friends is easier and more productive than otherwise asking them to repeat something, mis-hearing a word or phrase, or becoming frustrated by your hearing loss.

Maintaining social activity is also important to a healthy quality of life. Avoiding social isolation lowers the risk of depression, cognitive decline, and even dementia and Alzheimer’s. Being in touch with your loved ones, on the phone or in person, helps to promote healthy brain activity and sharpen communication skills.

The brain plays a vital role in our hearing ability and is integral to comprehension and speech, too. The inner ear has hair cells that are responsible for converting the noise gathered by the outer ear into electrical signals, which travel along an auditory nerve to the brain. Every one of the hair cells is responsible for converting a pitch or frequency. They are also irreparable if they become damaged or die, so the brain must work harder to process information it is receiving due to the loss of that function. Hearing aids can prevent the mental fatigue that comes with untreated hearing loss.

Absolute Hearing Care Center

If you would like to know more about the many benefits of treating hearing loss, reach out to us at Absolute Hearing Care Center. We can provide you with helpful information, test your hearing, explain the results, and fit you for a hearing aid.