The number of people who require hearing aids continues to grow because of natural ageing and health complications. While there are many treatments available, hearing aids continue to be a popular option. But are they covered under health insurance?
What are Hearing Aids?
Hearing aids are electronic devices that help those suffering from bad hearing. This device can be worn either inside or behind the ear, depending on the design and needs of the patient. The device typically consists of a microphone, an amplifier, and a receiver that help improve one’s hearing.
When are Hearing Aids Required?
Hearing aids are useful for people who have inner ear damage resulting in hearing loss. This damage can be congenital, due to diseases, accidents, exposure to loud noises, ageing, or a side effect of certain medications. The problems can be with the eardrums, ear canal, or the middle ear.
Not all patients can benefit from hearing aid as there are several reasons for deafness. This can be easily assessed by an ENT (ear, nose & throat) specialist after which you can get hearing aid(s) that suit your needs best.
Is Ear Machine Covered by Insurance?
Usually, ear machines for hearing are not covered by most health insurance plans. Most plans include these costs under their general exclusions among other wearable medical equipment such as spectacles, contact lenses etc.
However, some health insurance plans also offer coverage for hearing aids if they are required as a consequence of a covered disease or accident. In case an insured person experiences hearing loss due to an accident or a covered illness, then they may be able to get reimbursement as per their policy terms.
What’s more, several health insurance companies in India are realising the financial burden these aids can put on people. Some insurers now offer coverage for hearing aids under optional covers or overall health plans. These optional covers can be bought at an additional price along with their regular plans.
How Expensive Are Hearing Aids in India?
Hearing aids can cost anywhere from Rs. 10,000 and even cost up to 15 lakhs in some scenarios. This will depend on the extent of hearing loss in a person, their age, if they need it only in one ear or both, type of device, etc.
According to WHO, nearly 3 million Indian children suffer from deafness. Over 20,000 children get diagnosed with deafness of varying degrees every year but a very small fraction of this number can afford ear machines.
While hearing aids have been in India since 1990, the number of people to afford these aids remains low because of their high cost.
Cover for Hearing Aid
Many health insurance plans offer coverage for hearing aids with varying benefits, ranging from 50% reimbursement or subject to a maximum amount as per the policy. The insured person can file for the claim if they are prescribed by a network ENT specialist.
Ear machines are not only expensive but also susceptible to wear and tear or total breakdown. People can prepare for these eventual expenses by opting for insurance for hearing aids. It will help them stay covered for financial costs incurred due to repairs and the replacement of their devices.
Depending on the insurer, the device can be covered for financial expenses caused by theft, accidental damage, or breakdown. However, make sure to thoroughly check the coverage and deductibles under these plans.
Another thing to remember is the availability of this coverage, as some plans require you to complete a certain duration before this option is available to them.