In June 2019, UnitedHealthcare announced the launch of UnitedHealthcare Hearing, which it said would offer “all consumers, including people enrolled in the company’s individual, employer-sponsored and Medicare Advantage plans, greater access to affordable, quality hearing health”.
UnitedHealthcare Hearing network brings together EPIC Hearing Healthcare, which the company acquired from Sonova in 2018, and hi HealthInnovations, a home-delivery hearing healthcare subsidiary of UHC, originally launched in 2012. The network offers hearing health services including a full product portfolio for retail customers and Medicare Advantage, Part D, Group Retiree and Employer & Individual members.
UHC Hearing Aid Program Overview
UnitedHealthcare Hearing is said to be supported by a large network of hearing care professionals and distribution relationships with major hearing technology manufacturers (“name brand” devices, such as Oticon, ReSound, Starkey, Widex, etc).
The product offerings available to individuals will vary based on the health plan type.
UHC Relate Brand Hearing Aids
With the launch of the UnitedHealthcare Hearing program came a new private-label brand of hearing aids, manufactured by Unitron for UHC: RELATETM.
The new Relate brand comes in two technology levels — Basic and Reserve.
Relate Basic technology level is exclusively available through home delivery services
- The hearing test and recommendation are required to be performed by a licensed provider;
- Once the authorization is received, UnitedHealthcare Hearing will place the order with the manufacturer, program the device(s) based on the provider’s hearing test results and ship the programmed device(s) directly to the member.
- If an in-person follow up appointment is requested by the member, each follow-up appointment can be charged up to $50 by the provider during or after the trial period dependent on the member’s plan.
Relate Reserve through Premium technology levels are delivered through a provider appointment.
- The order process is facilitated through a licensed provider from start to finish, including but not limited to: hearing evaluation, device recommendation, orders from manufacturer, programming, and fitting.
- During the trial period there are an unlimited number of visits, free of charge.
- After trial period, there are three free visits within the first year; any unused free visits will not be carried over to the following year.
- Should the member seek additional services after the allotted 3 free follow-up care services are exhausted or the one year timeframe has lapsed, the provider may charge their standard and customary rates.
Available wireless accessories for compatible Relate hearing aid models include:
UnitedHealthcare Hearing ships batteries directly to the member with no additional shipping and handling charges. All battery sizes for hearing aids and cochlear implants are available through the program, which are supplied on an annual basis and will last up to 12 months for most users.
- Relate Basic: Members will receive a one-year battery supply, shipped along with the device(s).
- Relate Reserve through Advanced: Members will receive a one-year battery supply, shipped after the end of the trial period.
- Premium: Members will receive five, one-year battery supplies with first year supply shipped after the end of the trial period.
Trial Period, Returns & Exchanges
According to the company, all Relate Basic (home delivery) devices offer a 70-day trial period, which starts the day of the shipment. All other devices’ 45-day trial period starts from the date of the fitting appointment with a licensed professional.
Returns or exchanges may only be accepted during the trial period. Earmolds cannot be returned or exchanged. For Exchange requests, UnitedHealthcare Hearing will contact the member to collect any out of pocket price difference and will send a new authorization to order the new hearing aids.