Over 100 million Americans receive their health insurance coverage from Blue Cross Blue Shield, making it one of the largest health insurance companies in the world. Because of this, many people are looking for answers to questions like just how much coverage the health insurance giant offers its customers.
It’s important to understand your coverage so you can make the best choices regarding choosing a hearing aid and covering its expense. Not understanding insurance coverage is a contributing factor for many adults putting off seeking hearing help. So let's answer that question and see if you are eligible for some hearing aids today!
What is Blue Cross Blue Shield?
Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) isn’t actually one insurance company, but rather a federation of 36 separate US health insurance companies. All together, these companies provide health insurance to over 106 million Americans. The conglomerate was formed in 1982, with the merger of the Blue Cross Association and the Blue Shield Association.
You may hear the BCBSA affiliated health insurance companies referred to in the healthcare industry as "The Association." Affiliated plans span through every state in the U.S. plus District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. They even offer some plans to customers in a few foreign countries. BCBSA also covers US federal government employees under their nationwide health insurance program.
Does BCBSA Cover Hearing Aids?
Because BCBSA is not one, but many different health insurance companies, there’s no single answer to the question of whether the insurance company covers the cost of hearing aids. This is why it’s important to examine your individual plan to find out for certain.
Not only does each separate BCBSA company differ in their coverage, but they also offer a variety of different levels of care, each with varying hearing health coverage. Copays and deductibles vary greatly between plans and levels. The good news, however, is that many BCBSA plans do include part or full hearing aid coverage in many of their benefits packages.
Hearing Aid Coverage Varies by State
The first step to finding out what your BCBSA plan includes in terms of hearing aid coverage is to visit their website and search for hearing aid information. There may be a specific online pamphlet or booklet which details all aspects of the plan. For instance, BlueCross BlueShield of Minnesota partners with TruHearing, which provides free hearing exams and hearing aids at reduced rates that are scaled toward different BCBSA membership levels. Complete and Strive Complete members pay $799 for a $3,125 48 channel hearing aid, while their Core members pay $999 for the same device.
Another example are the Blue Essential, BlueCare Plus, and Blue Advantage Plans which cover people in Lake Charles, Louisiana.
- Blue Essential and BlueCare Plus are both Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) plans, which limit members to who they can see. The Essentials plan leaves out mention of hearing aid coverage, so it would be best to check if there is an add-on option available if you were a member of this plan.
- In contrast, BlueCare Plus provides hearing care coverage, but it isn’t clear how much of the cost of a hearing aid they will cover.
- Blue Advantage, on the other hand, is a PPO plan. PPO plans are usually more expensive for the individual member but offer more freedom of choice without the need for a referral and additional coverage. Under this plan members can receive two hearing aids per year through the TruHearing program along with follow-up visits and dozens of hearing aid batteries each year for non-rechargeable models.
Blue Cross Blue Shield’s TruHearing Partnership
As you can see, coverage options can vary greatly between plans and levels. With 6,400 provider locations throughout the US, TruHearing is the most frequent hearing aid coverage option that BCBSA partners with. Generally there are two options with TruHearing: TruHearing Select and TruHearing Choice. With the Select option members pay a low copay for hearing aids. With the TruHearing Choice plan members take advantage of fixed nationwide pricing on a variety of hearing aid options.
It’s important to keep in mind that BCBSA plans that participate with TruHearing only offer coverage on products available through TruHearing. Other hearing products and hearing aid brands are not an option.
If you’re a Blue Cross Blue Shield member it’s important to make sure you have all the facts, as explanations of benefits can sometimes be confusing and not all information is available online. When in doubt, contact by phone your insurance provider and ask specifically for information regarding hearing tests, hearing aid coverage and follow-up visits.
And finally, if you’re a Medicare recipient, remember that you’ll need supplemental insurance that covers hearing aids as Medicare does not cover the cost.
The information in this guide has been written using the following reliable sources: