Our hard work has paid off. Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) has been pushing for hearing aid coverage in federal health plans. HLAA has learned that several of the Federal Employee Health Benefits (FEHB) insurance plans have expanded their coverage to include coverage of hearing aids for adults. The Federal Government is the largest employer in the US. FEHB covers some 8 million federal employees, retirees and their dependants. That’s a lot of health insurance!
Expanded hearing health care coverage is great news not only for federal employees, but for everyone who depends on their employer for health insurance. As the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) points out in their news release, the FEHB program is often seen as a model program that serves to show the way for other insurers. Below are examples of added coverage offered in the FEHB plans:
- Blue Cross/Blue Shield is adding hearing aids for adults up to $1,000 per ear, every 3 years in both options.
- APWU is adding a new benefit with one exam and testing every 2 years paid at 90 percent of PPO allowance or 70 percent of allowance for non-PPO. Hearing aids every three years limited to $1,500 maximum.
- Mail Handlers, which already provided benefits of $200 per hearing aid per ear, is increasing the amount to $500, with replacement available every five years.
- GEHA is adding a new benefit with a maximum of $500 per ear, every five years.
- Panama Canal is adding a new benefit with a $1,000 lifetime maximum.
- Foreign Service is adding a new benefit of 100 percent coverage, up to a maximum of $1,200 per aid per ear per person and hearing exam, once every five years.
- Rural Carriers is adding a new benefit up to $1,100 per hearing aid per ear once every five years.
- The Association is changing their hearing benefit coinsurance from 10 percent to 0 percent and will cover up to a maximum of $1,400 for one hearing aid per ear.
- Samba is adding hearing benefits up to $500 per lifetime for hearing aids.
- NALC is providing a lifetime maximum of $1,000 for hearing aids
- Health Alliance is adding a new benefit at a maximum of $500 for hearing aids/devices once every three years.
FEHB’s inclusion of hearing aids makes it clear they see the lack of hearing aids for their employees as a health care issue. It’s our expectation that other carriers will follow the lead of FEHB. HLAA will be watching to see whether more carriers pick up expanded hearing health coverage.
Ask your employer if they cover hearing aids in your plan now. Let us know if they do. If your employer doesn’t provide similar coverage, show them what’s happening with FEHB. If federal employees enjoy hearing aid health insurance coverage, why shouldn’t the rest of us benefit too?!
Contact the Director of Public Policy with your information.