Medicare beneficiaries in 27 more states will soon have enhanced access to hearing examinations and more affordable hearing aids thanks to Humana Inc. (NYSE: HUM), the health insurance company announced. Humana is expanding its existing relationship with TruHearing, a hearing health care company, to include hearing care and hearing aid benefits within more of its Medicare Advantage plan offerings.

Humana is including this hearing benefit on certain 2018 Medicare Advantage plans offered in the following new states: Alabama, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. Humana and TruHearing teamed up in 2017 to introduce the benefit in select Medicare Advantage plans offered in Arizona, Arkansas, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, Texas, and Washington state. In 2018, the benefit will be offered in a total of 34 states.

According to the announcement, Original Medicare covers diagnostic hearing exams only if a patient’s health care provider orders the test to see if medical treatment is needed. Otherwise, Original Medicare does not cover hearing exams, hearing aids, or hearing aid fittings, despite the fact that one in four Americans 70 years and over has a hearing impairment, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The benefit allows for one annual routine hearing exam, at no additional cost to the member, and digital hearing aids for fixed copayments. Members will be able to obtain two hearing aids per year (one per ear), with the choice of an advanced TruHearing hearing aid with a copay ranging from $399-$699, or a premium TruHearing hearing aid with a copay of $699-$999. These copayments are per hearing aid and vary depending on the member’s location and plan selected.

TruHearing hearing aids include three provider visits for fittings and evaluations within the first year of the hearing aid purchase, a 45-day trial period, a three-year extended warranty, and 48 batteries per aid—all at no extra cost to the member. The hearing aids offer wireless connectivity to your mobile phone or tablet through Bluetooth technology and come in a variety of colors and styles.

People with Medicare may select these plans during the 2018 Medicare Advantage and Prescription Drug Plan Annual Enrollment Period, or AEP, which runs October 15 through December 7, 2017. Those selecting a plan with this option will be able to start using the benefit January 1, 2018.

“Hearing is an important part of our everyday lives and any impairment can lead to emotional and social consequences for older adults,” said Anup K. Sharma, MD, MBA, medical director, clinical integration for Humana. “This can include social isolation, depression, and anxiety, according to a study by the National Council on the Aging. The TruHearing hearing care and hearing aid benefit helps take the guesswork out of the cost of a hearing aid and will go a long way to helping our members hear better, improving their overall health and well-being so they can start with healthy.”

Medicare beneficiaries living in these states who are interested in the hearing aid benefit should visit to research these plans and learn more about this and other plan benefits.

Source: Humana, TruHearing

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