An About.com reader just sent me this e-mail, which I thought I would share in its entirety (unedited) because of the valuable information:
I read your articles from time to time. I thought I'd alert you to the latest on Federal Employee Health Benefit Plan (FEHB) I think that's what it is called....I may have misspelled the acronym.
Apparently Blue Cross Blue Shield Federal Employee Benefit's standard option will (Finally!) cover hearing aids for adults 22 years of age and older starting in 2009! They will pay 1,000 per ear. Which is good news considering that prior to 2009, they only covered up to 22 for hearing aid and over 22 they would only cover BAHA.
Another thing that those who choose BC/BS, there is a provision that states that if the surgeon is not part of a PPO (preferred provider) then, there will be a 7,500 deductible. This is very important for everyone to know because what if someone has C.I. [cochlear implant] and the surgeon is not a PPO, even tho other doctors are...or the hospital is, then, they will be charged 7,500. So, one would have to make sure that the surgeon is a PPO before opting for a non-emergency surgery.
Just something I thought I'd share with you. I'm not sure if other insurance companies are following BC/BS but this is very good news since it offers options and will cover cost of hearing aid for those who do not want C.I. And, for those that opts for C.I., they'd do well to check to make sure their surgeon is a PPO.
I already knew about the new Federal requirement for hearing coverage in Federal insurance plans, but I did not know about that BC/BS deductible policy for using out of network surgeons. That is critical information to share with About.com readers, because the quality of the surgeon matters when getting a cochlear implant.
Now that Federal health insurance offers hearing coverage, will non-Federal insurers follow suit? Will the complaints about insurance not covering hearing aids finally go down? If Blue Cross/Blue Shield is offering hearing aid coverage for Federal employees, are they doing the same for non-Federal plans?
This year, because of an unrelated issue, the Federal health insurance open season has been extended through January 31, 2009. Plan comparisons are available via opm.gov. In its announcement about open season, OPM stated "In 2009, 10 fee-for-service plans and a number of Health Maintenance Organizations (HMO) will expand coverage of hearing benefits for adults. This enhancement follows OPM's challenge last year to health carriers - which a number accepted - to improve the coverage of diagnostic tests and hearing aids for children in 2008."