OTC Hearing Aids And Health Insurance
Published: July 24, 2023
Updated: August 3, 2023
Over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids have increased the affordability and accessibility of hearing healthcare in the US. However, there is still the question of how OTC hearing aids and health insurance fit together, and whether or not health insurance companies are willing to pay for, or contribute towards, the cost of OTC hearing aids.
What are OTC hearing aids?
Over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids are devices that assist those with perceived mild-to-moderate hearing loss, without the prior need for an examination, prescription, or fitment from an audiologist. In late October, 2022, the FDA passed regulations that allowed for the sale of OTC hearing aids online and through retailers and pharmacies nationwide, such as Walgreens, Walmart, CVS, and Best Buy, to name but a few. These historic regulations meant that those suffering from mild-to-moderate hearing loss could enjoy enhanced accessibility to hearing healthcare at a reduced cost, since so many associated costs of getting hearing aids were cut out.
Does Health Insurance Cover OTC Hearing Aids?
Currently, it seems that NationsBenefits is the best chance of enjoying any form of co-payment for OTC hearing aids, as no major health insurance companies offer cover at the time of writing. NationsBenefits offers supplemental benefits for various insurance providers so it is worth reaching out to determine how they may assist you.
Since they are still relatively new to the market, and as more and more companies begin to bring their own lineup of OTC hearing aids, it remains to be seen when health insurance companies will cover OTC hearing aids as part of their plans.
Does Health Insurance Cover anything?
While not necessary if you believe that OTC hearing aids could assist your hearing, if you are interested in visiting an audiologist for a comprehensive audiological evaluation, most insurance companies will offer some benefits for a hearing test.
Purchasing OTC Hearing Aids Without Insurance
If you are ineligible for any sort of hearing aid benefits, whether it be from health insurance or from any other program, there are other ways to try and alleviate the costs of OTC hearing aids.
Some OTC hearing aid manufacturers, such as Lexie Hearing, offer subscription payment methods, where you can pay off your OTC hearing aid monthly rather than have to pay the full once-off payment that could cause a financial barrier. Some retailers also offer this type of payment plan, so it is worth investigating whether that is a viable alternative for you, if you are unable to pay the once-off payment.
OTC hearing aids can often be purchased by using Flexible Spending Account (FSA) or Health Savings Account (HSA) funds, as they are medical devices. Make sure to look through our FSA/HSA guide to find out everything you need to know on using your FSA/HSA funds to purchase OTC hearing aids.
AARP benefits through United Healthcare
AARP members that are covered through United Healthcare can enjoy a variety of benefits on OTC hearing aids that are offered through United Healthcare. The Lexie Hearing B2 Self-fitting OTC hearing aid Powered by Bose is available through United Healthcare, offering wearers a premium hearing experience at affordable prices.
Unfortunately, the most common answer to whether or not health insurance covers OTC hearing aids is “no”. There are however some insurance plans that are starting to add OTC hearing aids to their coverage plans, but it might take some time before we see a universal adoption of OTC hearing aids by insurance companies.
There are other hearing healthcare benefits you can enjoy from select insurance companies, such as hearing tests. Once can also reduce the cost of OTC hearing aids further by utilizing payment methods such as subscription/finance methods, FSA/HSA funds, as well as AARP benefits.