Five Reasons Hearing Benefits Are Popular

Last update on Oct, 16, 2017

The hearing benefit has become one of the hottest trends in supplemental benefits for Medicare Advantage and other health plans. It’s easy to see why — a hearing benefit delivers tremendous value for health plans and their members. Let’s take a closer look at why we believe hearing benefits have become so popular.

1. Good hearing health starts with a quality hearing benefit.

Approximately 37.5 million adults in the U.S. report some degree of hearing loss, and 28.8 million of them could benefit from hearing aids, according to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD). Yet, among those who have treatable hearing loss, only about 16% of adults aged 20 to 69 and 30% of those 70 and older have ever used hearing aids.

Many individuals resist or delay getting treatment because of the high cost of hearing aids — which average $4,700 per pair, plus potentially several hundred dollars more for batteries and professional services. Health plan members with a hearing benefit can potentially cut this expense by thousands of dollars, making them more likely to address their hearing issues.

2. Improved hearing may mean healthier members.

The connection between hearing health and overall health has become clearer with a growing body of research. Specifically, studies indicate that people age 60 or older with hearing loss are 47% more likely than their normal-hearing peers to experience symptoms of depression; that hearing loss is a risk factor in an estimated 36% of U.S. dementia cases; and that even mild hearing loss (i.e., 25 decibels) is associated with a threefold higher risk of injury-causing falls, compared to someone with normal hearing.

In addition, various research projects show a distinct pathway from hearing loss to social isolation, which in turn is a risk factor for dementia, depression, heart disease and stroke, according to the CDC.

3. Members are looking for more ways to stay healthy.

Increasingly, consumers are recognizing the contributions of good hearing to their overall health and quality of life, and a hearing benefit demonstrates to them that the health insurer is committed to whole-person wellness.

Because of the positive impact on overall health, health plans reap the added benefit of potentially lower payouts for medical care. According to a Johns Hopkins study, individuals with untreated hearing loss incurred, on average, 46% higher total health care costs — or $22,434 per patient— versus their normal-hearing peers over the course of a decade, with health plans covering $20,403 of this amount.

4. Health plan members want choices.

The most robust hearing benefits offer members plenty of choices when it comes to hearing solutions and hearing care providers. An extensive hearing aid formulary, encompassing a broad selection of brands, models and options, gives providers a distinct advantage in addressing each patient’s unique hearing loss, lifestyle and preferences.

A diverse provider network further strengthens this highly personalized approach to hearing health care. For some members, this may mean receiving care for a hearing aid dispenser in a retail setting, while others require the services of an audiologist in a more clinical environment. Ultimately, all members get what they want and need.

5. A hearing benefit can boost member growth and retention.

The right hearing benefit can be a potent force for good, from empowering members to reconnect to the sounds that are important to them, to helping health insurers reduce their payouts for medical care. It’s not surprising, then, to discover that a hearing benefit can boost member growth and retention for health plans. This is an especially important consideration for Medicare Advantage plans in a highly competitive marketplace.

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Is it time for your health plan to get on board with one of the country’s hottest trends in benefits? Or perhaps evaluate your current hearing benefit to find out if you could be getting a better return on your investment? Either way, Amplifon Hearing Health Care is ready to help you understand your options and tailor a hearing benefit to your health plan and your members.

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