Posted on Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Financing Hearing Aids and Flexible Spending Accounts

Couple laughs after discovering flexible spending account can be used to correct hearing loss.

26 million people live with untreated hearing loss and many more live with older hearing devices no longer appropriate for their hearing loss. A majority of these people cite the high cost of hearing aids as the reason for refusing treatment or upgrading a hearing aid, but there are numerous ways to finance hearing aids, including using a flexible spending account (FSA).

Many people decide not to treat their hearing loss, citing the costs of new hearing aids. It turns out that hearing loss left untreated has far-reaching health, emotional, and financial costs for individuals and society. But taking action might not be as hard as you think. Employer based health expense accounts can make it easier for people to correct their hearing loss or the hearing loss of a dependent adult or child.

A Flexible Spending Account (FSA) is an account in which employees deposit pre-taxed money to use on health expenses not typically covered by insurance.
This employer sponsored benefit allows people to pay out-of-pocket expenses (such as doctor office co-pays, prescription copays, and hearing health) with pre-taxed income. There are some differences in what can be paid for by using this money, but generally audiological costs, hearing aids, and hearing aid batteries are all eligible. In some instances hearing aid accessories like iCom or remotes are also eligible for coverage. FSA is a popular way to help pay for health expenses, but there are other accounts employers offer that work in the same way, like Dependent Care Accounts (DCA)--that allow employees to use this money to pay for qualifying dependents such as a parent or child, and Health Savings Accounts (HSA) which work primarily in the same way as FSA.

If you enroll in a FSA, HSA, or DCA a portion of your salary will be deposited into an account for you to use during the year. This amount is determined by you, with the highest contribution being capped by the government at 2,000. Once you have enrolled, you will be sent a debit card to use to cover your health expenses. This card works like a Visa, can be used any place Visa is accepted, but will only work up to the amount you have deposited, and requires you to save your receipts to justify your purchases. You can use all or a portion of this money to cover hearing health services or corresponding medically necessary products, not over the counter. Most audiologists offices will be able to advise you on coverage, though typically professional services, hearing aids, and hearing aid batteries are eligible for coverage.

At year’s end the government takes any unused money left in your flexible spending account. Don’t waste this valuable benefit. Apply your flexible spending account (FSA) to the care of your or a dependent loved one’s hearing health.

Any decline in hearing should be immediately corrected in order to avoid health risks like dementia and Alzheimer’s, but also to enjoy the health benefits of listening to and playing music which has been shown to improve ability to communicate and language skills as we age. Whole body healthcare starts with the ears. Taking care of your hearing is an essential part of staying healthy as people age.

If you'd like to learn more, see your hearing health provider. If you need help finding a hearing health provider click HERE to be connected with the largest network of trusted hearing health professionals in the nation!

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