MINNETONKA, MINNESOTA — UnitedHealthcare has announced the launch this week of UnitedHealthcare Hearing, which it says offers “all consumers, including people enrolled in the company’s individual, employer-sponsored and Medicare Advantage plans, greater access to affordable, quality hearing health”.
The UnitedHealthcare Hearing program is said to provide access to “custom-programmed hearing aids at up to 80 percent less than devices sold through traditional channels”. UnitedHealthcare Hearing brings together EPIC Hearing Healthcare, which the company acquired from Sonova in 2018, and hi HealthInnovations, a home-delivery hearing health care company.
“UnitedHealthcare Hearing expands our whole-person benefit plans that offer greater access to quality, cost-effective care for the millions of Americans we serve. Helping people maintain or improve their hearing health can enhance their overall well-being and reduce their risk of falls and health conditions associated with untreated hearing loss, such as depression and dementia.”
–Tom Wiffler, CEO, UnitedHealthcare Specialty Benefits
About 48 million Americans experience some degree of hearing loss, although many do not seek treatment due to cost and lack of coverage. Hearing loss is linked to age and environmental factors, and prolonged and repetitive exposure to loud sounds is contributing to the growing prevalence of noise-induced hearing loss, particularly among people of working age in their 30s, 40s and 50s.
UnitedHealthcare Expands Further into Hearing Health
Through EPIC Hearing Healthcare, employers can provide their employees an expanded portfolio of hearing health benefit plans that include the “full spectrum of hearing aid options and a large national network of more than 5,000 credentialed audiologists and hearing health professionals”.
In addition, nearly 3 million people enrolled in UnitedHealthcare’s Medicare Advantage plans that offer hearing health benefits will have greater coverage. They have access to a “broad choice of custom-programmed hearing aids from all major manufacturers, with no out-of-pocket cost for some people and a per-device copay for most starting at $200”.1
With the company’s hi HealthInnovations hearing aids, people can order directly by phone, online or in person at locations nationwide, with “personalized support during and after purchase”.
“Through hi HealthInnovations, millions of UnitedHealthcare plan participants – including people with employer-sponsored and individual hearing coverage, as well as people enrolled in most Medicare Advantage plans – can purchase custom-programmed hearing aids starting at a $100 per-device copay for many people.” 1
UnitedHealthcare Hearing says it will provide additional value to employees and companies that combine medical and specialty health benefits, including vision, dental and financial protection coverage, through a single health plan.
Public Awareness Campaign as Part of Launch
As part of the launch, UnitedHealthcare is sharing TV and radio public service announcements with stations across the country – in collaboration with Songs for Sound, a national nonprofit dedicated to improving access to hearing health care – to help people understand the connection between noise exposure and hearing loss.
UnitedHealthcare is also donating 20,000 silicone-based earplugs to police and fire departments across the country. The reusable earplugs will help protect the health of first responders who are at risk of hearing loss due to on-the-job noise exposure.
“Studies show firefighters and police officers are at higher risk for hearing loss, in part due to exposure to loud sounds while helping protect people’s safety and well-being,” said John Fruetel, chief, Minneapolis Fire Department. “We appreciate this donation and know it will help support the health of our first responders in Minneapolis.”
In addition to Minneapolis, first responders in nine other cities across the country are receiving earplug donations, including: Cleveland, Dallas, Miami, San Antonio, Seattle, St. Paul, Minn., and Washington, D.C.
More information about UnitedHealthcare Hearing is available at uhchearing.com.
- The cost of hearing aids as well as the method of paying for them varies by plan. Medicare Advantage members should refer to their Evidence of Coverage document or call the number on their health plan ID card to confirm the cost and payment method for their plan.