Financing Your Hearing Health: Navigating Costs for Hearing Loss and Tinnitus Treatment
Assuming you are new to this, or perhaps you are one of the millions living with undertreated hearing loss, I hope that we can unequivocally answer the question of ‘is it necessary treat my hearing loss’ with a resounding YES! We also hope that you understand that you can’t put a price on treatment, but treatment can be affordable!
While we hope you have learned a lot thus far in our writings, we know many of you will still have your preconceptions and personal experiences with hearing loss that may weigh on your mind. Maybe you had a grandparent who walked around with beige bananas sticking out of their ears that whistled every time you gave them a hug. Perhaps you know somebody who got bamboozled into buying traditional hearing aids and now they use them as a paperweight. Or maybe you know somebody who was sold something from a door-to-door hearing aid widget-pusher and now the salesman’s phone is disconnected. Or maybe one or both of your parents thought the widget they found online would really help them hear better!
While these stories break our hearts, we know they are true, and we know they cannot be ignored. These experiences are real, and they deserve to be acknowledged, and they must be talked about. There are ‘bad apples’ in every industry, even healthcare. But that does not mean we can throw out the baby with the bathwater.
The inspirational stories of the tens of thousands of people we positively affect cannot be silenced by the disenfranchised. The treatment of hearing loss and tinnitus offers 5 simple and straightforward medical benefits.
Now that you understand the implicit value in treating your hearing loss and tinnitus… lets tackle the ugly matter of money.
We say “ugly” because nobody really likes talking about this. We have observed audiology students and seasoned hearing specialists stumble through the ‘money conversation’. When there is a financial obstacle to treatment, most people are reluctant to admit it, offer other excuses; and, in turn, they cannot be helped by their treatment provider.
We must trust each other. When we have this discussion, it is entirely confidential—consider it happening in a “safe zone”. Believe us, hearing healthcare providers get it—we have mortgages, kids, cars, college tuitions (both our own and our kids!), and we have family budgets that we must work within.
We never make a treatment decision a ﬁnancial decision.
What is a Reasonable Fee and Cost?
A comprehensive cognitive treatment program, including your visits, your treatment technology, etc., can cost anywhere from $135 per month to $200 per month. Most fall in between. Nearly 95% of our patients pay $187 per month for their treatment program. When adjusted for inflation, these prices are way less than what they were even a decade ago—even though technology and treatment outcomes have increased by leaps and bounds.
In addition, when you consider the costs of not treating hearing loss, these treatment plans are a steal! For example, depression in older adults is often attributed to untreated or
undertreated hearing loss and costs on average $8,000 every few years. The average amount of money spent on caring for a loved one hospitalized by a fall, including home renovation or moving, is $30,000 per incident. And when it comes to dementia, the average cost of caring for a loved one is $57,000 per year. Thus, treating hearing loss is a bona fide BARGAIN!
For your investment, you will be getting the carefully selected treatment plan that directly targets your hearing loss, tinnitus, and cognitive needs. Your prescription is an exact science and matched exactly to you, and only you. Your investment also includes the expertise of a specialist who is considerate, compassionate, and empathetic from beginning to end. Your investment includes everything you need; seriously, everything.
Gone are the days of patients having to pay large sums of money up front. You should no longer be asked to fork over thousands of dollars up front. In fact, if you are told by any hearing healthcare specialist that you must pay the full $4,000-$10,000 up front for treatment—please politely excuse yourself and find a new provider!
What is a Membership Plan?
Our core value is simple: TreatEveryPatient. But, because money does not grow on trees and people do not like parting with large sums of hard-earned money (nor should they!), we had to come up with a way to increase access and affordability for all! We are proud to offer treatment membership to all our patients in all our practices as it truly puts the PATIENT FIRST. The different plans allow us to help every patient, regardless of hearing loss, insurance benefit, financial need, or credit score. Yes, you read that right—if your credit is compromised for any reason, even if you have NO CREDIT, you will always be offered an affordable treatment program.
The three facts of ‘hearing care’ are:
- Hearing loss is a progressive degenerative disorder that will require long-term adaptative treatment.
- Technology used to treat hearing loss is constantly improving.
- The costs continue to increase.
Membership programs protect each patient by ensuring that their hearing loss, tinnitus, and cognitive needs are always treated with the best available technology and services—and we offer these programs with locked-in pricing!
How to Offset Treatment Costs
The use of membership programs is customized to meet each patient’s needs. One way that many patients cover the low monthly cost is by using their Flexible Spending Account (FSA), using their tax returns, and even ‘writing off’ the cost of treatment as a medical expense benefit on their tax returns (warning— this is not considered ‘tax advice’ and we do not play accountants on TV; so always ask your financial specialist how to best proceed with all tax matters).
Membership Plans and Your Flex-Spending Account (FSA)
Flexible spending accounts are accessible through your employer benefit package that allows you to set aside a certain amount of money per year, TAX-FREE, to be used towards medical expenses. The medical treatment of hearing loss and tinnitus is a medical expense. Perhaps you already follow the “5 Ps to Success,” (Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance!) but in case you don’t, this is one thing you want to plan early for so you can maximize the benefit. Many employees set higher limits than you think on the amount of flexible spending dollars you can contribute and access.
We have seen employees with as much as $2,500 and some with even $5,000 in flex-spending dollars available to them. Failure to sign up early could cost you more in out-of-pocket medical expenses, especially if your plan is not up and ready before you or a loved one needs to treat his or her hearing loss and tinnitus. If you have a new plan, work with your human resource contact to sign up early for next year to maximize your savings.
Membership Plans and Insurance Beneﬁts
While many patients in America do not have ‘the medical treatment of hearing loss and tinnitus’ as a covered benefit (please don’t shoot the messenger) some people do. As an example, there are several states that have a mandated benefit for state employees; there are even certain federal employees (i.e., postal workers) that have a set benefit that can be used once every certain number of years. One thing for sure is that an insurance plan that will cover the total cost of treatment is like ‘winning the lottery’ and is an exceedingly rare find.
Ultimately, even with insurance, the patient will most often still have some monthly out-of-pocket costs. Attempting to determine which health insurance programs do and do not offer a benefit is an insurmountable task, especially considering the constant changes to health insurance programs.
For those few who do have insurance benefits that will contribute to the cost of treatment and hearing technology, the good news is that you can combine your benefit with a membership plan to reduce your low fixed monthly payment even further. If your local Excellence In Audiology™ member-clinic accepts the benefit provided by your insurance plan, they can easily integrate the benefit; thus, adjusting your membership plan to an even lower monthly cost.
What if You Still Really Cannot Afford Treatment?
A core value at our practices is to treat every patient. And if we say it—we mean it. The only way to make this core value a reality is to offer treatment options to those who really, really cannot afford it. We are talking about the 5-10% of patients who do not have Medicaid coverage, the patients who will have less food for their family if they treat their hearing loss, and those who risk losing their home if they invest in treating their hearing loss. If this is you—do not worry, we can help you too. Our non-profit organizations offer treatment to those less fortunate and those with true needs. Speak to your Excellence In Audiology™ member-clinic to learn more about their program and how to easily qualify.