HLAA Board of Trustees Takes a Stand on the Affordability and Accessibility of Hearing Technology and Hearing Health Care
The HLAA Board has adopted three new policy statements which are posted on HLAA’s website on the Policy Statements page. Below is a short summary of each of the statements.
>> Medicare Coverage of Hearing Aids and Aural Rehabilitation
Medicare covers hearing evaluation only if a physician orders the tests, and the purpose of the test is largely diagnostic, that is, to select the type of medical or surgical treatment needed for a hearing loss or other medical issues. Medicare explicitly excludes “hearing aids or examinations for the purposes of prescribing, fitting, or changing hearing aids.” Because hearing aids are statutorily excluded under Medicare, any coverage for Medicare beneficiaries will require amending Title 18 of the Social Security Act.
The Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) supports amending Title 18 of the Social Security Act to include coverage of hearing examinations for the purposes of prescribing, fitting or changing hearing aids, coverage of the hearing instruments themselves and aural rehabilitation. [Read more]
>> Screening for Hearing Loss in Primary Health Care Settings
According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), National Institutes of Health, more than 36 million Americans report that they have hearing loss, 10 percent of the U.S. population. A study by researchers at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, which based its statistics on audiometric testings, found that one in five Americans age 12 and over, approximately 48 million people in the U.S., has a hearing loss. It is also well documented that hearing loss adversely affects quality of life and is linked to other serious health conditions, including falls, depression, and cognitive decline. At the same time, access to hearing health care and the technology that could help people with hearing loss is hindered because consumers face multiple barriers which include a complex and confusing system. One such barrier is lack of screening in primary care. Reports indicate that hearing screening in primary care is uncommon, occurring approximately 17-30 percent of the time even in elderly individuals who are at risk for hearing loss.
The Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) supports the inclusion of a standardized approach to screening for hearing loss in primary health care settings that includes both a subjective and objective component in all adults during routine physicals; the “Welcome to Medicare” assessment; and Medicare annual risk assessments, that are accomplished in primary care settings. [Read more]
>> Wider Access to the Full Spectrum of Hearing Technology Benefiting People with Hearing Loss
According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), National Institutes of Health, access to devices and emerging technologies that could help people with hearing loss is limited because consumers face multiple barriers, including a system that is confusing and involves competing interests. This thwarts the ability of the individual to find the best and most affordable options to address his or her particular situation.
The Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) supports a hearing health care system that provides consumers access to the full spectrum of safe and effective hearing technology to meet their individual needs. This model should include:
Easy access to the full spectrum of hearing technology based on individual need and ability to pay. Hearing technologies include hearing aids and the full range of assistive listening devices including personal sound amplification products (PSAPs). [Read more]
- To the greatest degree possible, hearing technology should not be proprietary and should be usable by consumers of all brands of hearing devices.
- Access to appropriate hearing technology through multiple points of entry, including: hearing health care specialists (audiologists, hearing aid specialists, otolaryngologists); direct website access; pharmacies; and retail outlets.
- Creation of functional performance standards for all hearing technology.
Utilization of multiple platforms – websites, informational brochures, product labeling and in-store information – to provide the information and education needed to ensure informed consumer decision making, including, but not limited to:
- expected performance of the hearing technology;
- means of comparison to other similar hearing technology; and
- limitations of the hearing technology.
Please visit the Policy Statements page to see all of HLAA's Policy Statements.