Semin Hear 2020; 41(01): 055-067
DOI: 10.1055/s-0040-1701245
Review Article
Thieme Medical Publishers 333 Seventh Avenue, New York, NY 10001, USA.

Hearing Aid Reimbursement: A Discussion of Influencing Factors

Robert C. Fifer
1  Department of Pediatrics, Mailman Center for Child Development, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, Miami, Florida
› Author Affiliations
Further Information

Publication History

Publication Date:
10 February 2020 (online)

Abstract

Reimbursement for hearing aids in the present time has become as complicated, if not more so, than any other area of health care. For many years, hearing aids were a noncovered item where insurance was concerned. The predominant model of bundling costs into a single dollar amount was copied decades ago from hearing instrument specialists. However, insurance companies and federal agencies are increasingly covering the cost of the diagnostic hearing evaluation and at least some of the costs associated with hearing aid purchases. One operational question is whether the bundled charge model is still appropriate, or should audiologists follow more closely the example of optometry whereby professional services are charged separately from the cost of goods sold? The models that have evolved constitute a broad mixture of bundling, partial bundling (i.e., partial unbundling), and complete unbundling. There exists no uniformity for which charge method is best. But, with greater frequency, insurance requirements are forcing a movement toward partial or complete unbundling of associated costs. Regardless of which charge model is adopted, calculation of the cost of service delivery for each audiology practice is an essential business component to justify charges and make educated decisions regarding participation in various insurance, cooperative, or network plans.