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Federal Health Insurance and Hearing Aid Coverage

By December 14, 2008

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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."

Comments
December 15, 2008 at 2:07 pm
(1) Michael says:

Hello, I enjoyed the article from your reader. I have a health and health insurance blog that I would like to link to this article. Please contact me at your convenience. Thanks!

December 19, 2008 at 11:19 pm
(2) Ernie says:

Hearing aid coverage only available under the Standard Option? Why not the Basic Option? Or why not all options/plans? I don’t want to change my plan and pay higher deductibles/out-of-pocket costs just to get hearing coverage.

January 14, 2010 at 9:08 am
(3) Deb says:

I agree with Ernie. I finally got my work to get hearing aids covered. HR did not give me the details til it was close to renewing my health benefits for the upcoming year. Found out only PPO was covering 1 hearing aid per year @ $1500. I have HMO. Why would I switch and pay high deductible. I have 8 hearing aids in my family. I appreciate that my company made the effort and it was a start. Hopefully one day it will be part of basic coverage like a prosthetic device.

September 21, 2010 at 7:01 pm
(4) Gala says:

I sure hope that my husbands BC/BS will cover hearing aides. I work in the medical field and very much depend on my hearing. I have hearing aides which I had to pay out of pocket 5 yrs ago because most insurances then said it was “Cosmetic” give me a break, who wants to wear hearing aids to look better!!!!! I think that it is a shame that health insurances do not cover this fully!!!!!

May 6, 2011 at 4:55 pm
(5) PATRICK M MURPHY says:

DOES BCBS COVER ANYTHING TOWARDS HEARING AIDS I HAVENT GOT A STRAIGHT ANSWER FROMBCBS AND I NEED THEM PLEASE HAVE SOMEONE CONTACT ME FROM BCBS IF THERE IS ANY COVERAGE AND IF THERE ISNT ANY MAYBE PEOPLE NEED FIND A BETTER SERVICE INSURER

December 1, 2011 at 11:50 am
(6) Louis Patino says:

My wife is the suscribir with Blue Cross and Blue Shield, emlpoyed as a parking enforcer with a city in NJ I am her husband and I need hearind aids units does any one Knows Where can I get the forms for the $1000 allowance from this carrier I called and was not able to get answers.

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