If you or somebody in your family need hearing aids, there is a good chance you will need help paying for them. That’s because the price of behind-the-ear hearing aids or even the best cheap hearing aids can easily cost anywhere from $2000 – $6000. In this article we will discuss hearing aid financial programs, hearing aid companies that provide financing, hearing aid financing options for people with bad credit, and other programs to help you pay for and enjoy the benefits of having hearing aids.
Many Americans have less than $2000 in the bank, and neither Medicare nor Medicaid typically offer any financial assistance for hearing aids. Medicare states it rather bluntly: “You pay 100% of the cost for hearing aids and exams.” In other words, there is a real need for hearing aid financing programs.
So why doesn’t Medicare offer financial assistance for hearing aids?
Well, when Medicare came into being in 1965, hearing aids were excluded from coverage because people believed Americans didn’t live long enough to need them and because hearing aids were cheap.
Well, times certainly changed. These days hearing aids are expensive, and millions of Americans could benefit from quality hearing aids, especially if they are tuned and fitted by an audiologist. And quite frankly, it is always a good idea to visit an audiologist if you have experienced hearing damage. That’s because even if your audiologist determines that you do not need hearing aids, they can diagnose and treat hearing and ear conditions. Your audiologist can diagnose and treat everything from something minor, such as wax buildup, to something more serious, such as ear infections or balance disorders.
There is some good news though. States such as Arkansas, Illinois, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Connecticut mandate hearing aid insurance for adults, and some other states mandate coverage for children. But in general, if you need hearing aids, chances are high that you will need financing or some assistance to cover their costs.
Hearing aid financing programs
When it comes to hearing aid financial programs, there is more bad news. In addition to Medicare and Medicaid not offering help with hearing aid costs, neither do most private medical insurance companies. However, many offer optional hearing aid plans, so be sure to check with your health insurance provider before visiting an audiologist.
However, there is some good news. While your health insurance may not cover hearing aids directly, you might be able to use any funds you have in your Health Savings Account (HAS) or Flexible Savings Account (FSA) to help pay for your hearing aids. Once again, check with your health insurance provider before visiting your audiologist to know where you stand in terms of your hearing aid financing.
There are also other hearing aid financial programs available. These include credit cards that offer lower interest rates for hearing aids than standard credit cards. Some even offer 0% financing if you pay off your hearing aids within 6 months, so it pays to shop around. Your audiologist will be up to date with the best hearing financing programs for your situation, so be sure to ask for their advice when you have your hearing checked or are fitted for hearing aids. Some of these include:
- Wells Fargo Health Advantage
At the time of writing this article, this credit card offered 12.99% APR and is accepted by not just audiologists, but also by dentists, optometrists, and veterinarians across the country.
- CareCredit credit card
CareCredit is a medical financing company. They offer a credit card which offers flexible payment structures that is similar to the Wells Fargo Health Advantage card. It can be used for hearing aid financing, or to help pay for hearing exams, tinnitus care, hearing tests, and implants. You can apply online. Also, there is an online payment calculator to give you an idea of how much your payments will be. Using it can be a good way to provide clarity and reduce any stress you feel from your hearing aid financing program.
- Veterans Administration benefits
If you are one of the 16.5 million veterans in the United States and registered at the health administration/enrollment section of the VA Medical Center of your choice you may qualify for help with your hearing aid cost. If you are VA eligible and an audiologist determines that you require hearing aids, you may qualify to have your hearing aids, repairs, and batteries provided to you at no cost.
Also, according to VHA Directive 1034, your hearing aids will be replaced if they become ineffective or damaged or if your hearing condition changes. Your hearing aids may also be replaced if they are lost or damaged through no fault of your own.
Hearing aid companies who provide financing
One of the newer developments in terms of hearing aid financing and eliminating the financial barrier that prohibits many from getting hearing aids is hearing aid leasing programs. Hearing aid leasing allows you to get a hearing aid for little or no down payment. Simply pay a monthly payment and you will be able to enjoy the benefits of having hearing aids. Leasing plans also cover remote support, cleanings, annual screenings, and coverage for lost, stolen, or damaged hearing aids.
If you have a school-aged son or daughter who suffers from hearing difficulties, but you don’t have $2000 or more on hand to pay for their hearing aids, leasing can be an excellent option. It is a way to provide them with hearing aids without a large cash outlay or increasing your debt. And once they are fitted for hearing aids at an audiologist, you are likely to notice improved grades at school, better social interaction, and more smiles. Down the road that can mean greater success throughout their lives, whether in school, college, or in the working world. Who wouldn’t pay $100 a month for something like that?
Phonak Freedom subscription-based program
Phonak has been at the forefront of hearing aid technology for decades. Their hearing aids are chock full of features, offer great voice recognition, and appear on numerous best-of lists. Phonak is the biggest hearing aid brand in the world by market share, accounting for 24% of all hearing aid sales.
Phonak has also recently emerged as a leader in terms of hearing aid companies that provide financing. Their innovative Phonak Freedom subscription-based program allows you to enjoy the benefits of wearing hearing aids for around $100 to $175 a month. That can be comparable to your monthly credit card payments if you finance your hearing aids through that method. However, choosing the Phonak Freedom subscription program through your audiologist offers benefits that buying your hearing aids outright through financing does not, such as:
- Ability to enjoy the best current hearing aid technology available by replacing your hearing aids with new ones every 3 years
- Easy follow-up services such as tunings and cleanings
- Full warranty against loss, theft, and damage
- Knowledge of what your monthly payments will be
The Phonak Freedom subscription program is a bit like your cell phone bill or internet plan. It is also a bit like leasing a car. It can be a great option for those who like stability. It allows you to easily have routine hearing aid maintenance provided by your audiologist. And with a subscription program you can exchange your hearing aid every three years and enjoy the benefits of having the latest technology.
Hearing aid financing option with bad credit
If you choose to finance your hearing aids and have a bad credit score you may wind up paying higher interest rates or even be declined credit. If you check your credit score online and it is low, you can take steps to improve it. Paying down your revolving credit balances is always an excellent idea. That will not only save you money in the long run but also improve your credit score. You can also ask your credit card company to increase your credit limit. Another way to improve your credit score is to have negative entries that have been paid removed from your report.
If you have a bad credit score, have no options for improving it, and still hope to get hearing aids for yourself or a family member, there are still options. Organizations and services such as Kiwanis Club, Knights of Columbus, Optimists Clubs, and Easter Seals are sometimes able to offer assistance. There are also charities geared toward pediatric services such as Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.
Again, it is best to check with your audiologist. They will be able to provide the best up-to-date information for hearing aid financing options for people with bad credit. They can direct you to organizations and charities that may be able to help with getting your hearing aids and enjoying a better quality of life.
Help with hearing aid costs conclusion
It pays to talk to an audiologist not just to make sure that you get the best hearing aid for your situation, but also so that you choose the hearing aid financing program that is right for you as well. Many audiologists offer financing for your hearing aids that have much lower interest rates than credit cards.
In many cases, interest-free financing is available if you can pay off the full amount of your hearing aids in a relatively short term, such as 6 months. Financing your hearing aids through your audiologist for 36 months at 19.9% instead of 29.9% could amount to significant savings, possibly as much as almost $2000.
Your audiologist can help you navigate the many options that are available for financing your hearing aids. Whether it is a subscription service, a credit card with lower interest rates, help with navigating your private health insurance or VA benefits, or even guiding you to charities that may offer free hearing aids, they are on your side and there to help you.
Are there programs other than credit cards that offer help with hearing aid costs?
Yes! Companies such as Phonak offer subscription services for hearing aids. These allow you to obtain hearing aids for a monthly fee. Having a subscription for your hearing aids is a bit like a utility bill or leasing a car. You pay a determined amount every month, and in return, you get to enjoy the benefits of better hearing thanks to your hearing aids. Subscription plans generally cover all repairs and tunings, allow you to trade in your hearing aids every three years for new models, and have warranties against damage or theft.
Does Medicare cover the cost of hearing aids or offer financial assistance for them?
Unfortunately not. When Medicare was created in the 1960s hearing aids were relatively inexpensive. Also, it was believed that Americans didn’t live long enough to need hearing aids. Medicare still doesn’t cover the cost of hearing aids or even hearing exams.
What hearing aid financing programs are available?
If your health insurance doesn’t offer assistance with the cost of your hearing aids, your audiologist can likely suggest other options. There are credit cards intended for healthcare spending on things like hearing aids that offer lower interest rates than standard credit cards.
Will my private insurance cover the costs of my hearing aids?
If you have private insurance or insurance from work, it is best to check with them to see if your health plan offers any help with hearing aid costs. You might be able to use any money you have in your Health Savings Account (HAS) or Flexible Savings Account (FSA) to help pay for your hearing aids.
Does the Veterans Administration offer help with hearing aid costs?
The VA will often cover the cost of hearing aids, hearing exams, batteries, and repairs for veterans. To qualify, you must be VA eligible, and an audiologist must have determined that you require hearing aids. If your hearing changes, your hearing aids become damaged, or are lost through no fault of your own, there is also a good chance that they will be replaced at no charge to you.