Lifestyle |April 12, 2018

New Bipartisan Bill Aims for More Affordable Hearing Care

A new bipartisan bill proposed by Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky seeks to provide Medicare insurance coverage for a greater variety of hearing care services.

One of the biggest areas of oversight in the world of healthcare insurance here in America is undoubtedly the realm of hearing care and audiological services.

Millions of individuals live with hearing loss today, yet so few are able to receive substantial coverage for the services or hearing aid technology they need. Because of this, only about 14% of citizens that could benefit from treatment actually seek out a solution. Without the cost-saving benefits of insurances like Medicare and Medicaid, treatment for hearing loss can quickly become costly for the average American.

Luckily, a few senators - from both sides of the political spectrum- came together to propose a new piece of legislation that allows audiologists to accept Medicare for a greater range of services within their scope of practice. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) worked to create the Audiology Patient Choice Act to help alleviate the financial barriers to the “often expensive and underutilized” hearing services needed by so many.

"This bill will make a life-changing difference for the millions of Americans who experience hearing loss but can't access the care they need because of archaic regulations," said Senator Warren. "I'm glad to work with Senator Paul on this common-sense step to bring down costs for our seniors."  - Senator Elizabeth Warren

The bill includes a number of hearing and balance tests, as well as the possibility for more in-depth hearing aid consultation. This means that an audiologist can provide insight and education into proper hearing aid usage, cleaning techniques, and answering questions that someone new to hearing loss and unfamiliar with hearing aids may have.

Many new hearing aid users are unaware that there is an adjustment period as the brain starts to remember the way it used to process sounds before they started getting quieter. By lessening the cost of the appointment, it increases the odds that individuals choose to seek out a professional opinion and learn these crucial bits of information.

"Our legislation gets government out of the decision-making process so Americans can seek treatment from audiologists more quickly, easily, and affordably. - Senator Rand Paul.

Less than a year ago, Senator Warren was also a driving force behind the Over-the-Counter Hearing Aid Act that essentially reduces the number of extra steps needed to buy a hearing aid. Overall, this concept is a necessary step in the right direction, though it doesn't come without its own risks as well.

While just about everyone is in favor of more people having easier access to hearing aids - it is vital not to minimize the importance of the audiologist in creating a personalized relationship with the hearing aid user. An audiologist is a very valuable resource in making sure the adjustment to hearing aids is a smooth transition and the technology is performing at optimal levels.

The long-term goal of the OTC Hearing Aid Act is that by opening the market to more hearing aid sales, competitive forces will help to drive the cost down. Now, the Audiology Patient Choice act makes it so that patients are able to get the service they need, while the audiologists receive the money they need from Medicare to run the various costs associated with their business. It truly is a win-win, and will hopefully result in more people choosing to seek out treatment.

<p>The unfortunate consequences of limiting insurance coverage for hearing aids and other related services is that the vast majority of individuals with hearing loss decide to live with the discomfort rather than pay for treatment.&nbsp;</p>
<p>The most <a href="http://www.hearingloss.org/content/basic-facts-about-hearing-loss" target="_blank">recent statistics</a> we&rsquo;ve seen from the Hearing Loss Association of America puts the number of Americans with hearing loss at around 48-50 million. This equates to about 1 in every 5 citizens - and those are only the people that report their hearing loss. In actuality, the number is likely significantly higher.</p>
<p>For the vast majority of people, the effects of hearing loss are natural and come on gradually. This creates the illusion that one&rsquo;s hearing &ldquo;isn&rsquo;t bad enough&rdquo; to need to do anything about it, when in reality the hair cells continue to weaken. By the age of 65+ years old, the number of Americans with hearing loss rises to about 1 in 3 people. That&rsquo;s a lot of people - so needless to say, we&rsquo;re pretty happy that members of Congress are deciding to change the rules and get people the care they need at an affordable price.</p>
<p>At SayWhat we care about providing individuals with information and services they need to prevent and treat hearing loss. We partner with local hearing professionals and clinics across the country to facilitate a convenient approach to improving hearing loss. If you or a loved one has a hearing loss, we will book your appointment to learn about solutions.</p>
<h3 class="split-lines-block" style="text-align: center;"><span class="red-text"><a href="/en/book-appointment">Request a Hearing Evaluation</a></span><span class="red-bold-text"><br />
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The unfortunate consequences of limiting insurance coverage for hearing aids and other related services is that the vast majority of individuals with hearing loss decide to live with the discomfort rather than pay for treatment. 

The most recent statistics we’ve seen from the Hearing Loss Association of America puts the number of Americans with hearing loss at around 48-50 million. This equates to about 1 in every 5 citizens - and those are only the people that report their hearing loss. In actuality, the number is likely significantly higher.

For the vast majority of people, the effects of hearing loss are natural and come on gradually. This creates the illusion that one’s hearing “isn’t bad enough” to need to do anything about it, when in reality the hair cells continue to weaken. By the age of 65+ years old, the number of Americans with hearing loss rises to about 1 in 3 people. That’s a lot of people - so needless to say, we’re pretty happy that members of Congress are deciding to change the rules and get people the care they need at an affordable price.

At SayWhat we care about providing individuals with information and services they need to prevent and treat hearing loss. We partner with local hearing professionals and clinics across the country to facilitate a convenient approach to improving hearing loss. If you or a loved one has a hearing loss, we will book your appointment to learn about solutions.

Request a Hearing Evaluation

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