Gardner Audiology, United HealthCare provider in St. Petersburg, overview of hearing aids benefits from Medicare Complete plans

United Healthcare insurance (AARP Medicare Advantage, AARP Medicare Complete Part D plan) may have a hearing aid benefit for policy holders through Hi Health Innovations. This benefit includes direct to consumer marketing with the option to purchase online. It is marketed as a money saving alternative to the traditional method of purchasing a hearing aid (which includes meeting face to face with a hearing healthcare professional throughout the selection, fitting, and follow up process).

According to the website (hihealthinnovations.com), 3 models are available: A readymade non custom in the canal (ITC) model for mild to moderate hearing loss, a behind the ear (BTE) model for mild to moderately severe hearing loss and a “power plus” BTE for severe losses. There is one technology level for each model; the choices are limited to the 3 models offered.

As with any hearing aid order, the plan requires a hearing test and recommends a physician clearance form for select plans or those with an asymmetric hearing loss. A medical evaluation is recommended to rule out treatable causes for hearing loss.

The website indicates that orders can be made in person, by phone, or online. If an individual decides to use this benefit, the hearing aids are delivered to the home preprogrammed for your hearing or a fitting appoint will need to be arranged.

Things to consider:

1) Ordering hearing aids online can be a daunting task for some. The ability to ask questions face to face is lost. Also, your ear is not being physically inspected by a hearing healthcare professional during the order process to see potential fitting problems that would influence the use of a dome tip or custom ear mold. This could add delay to the fitting process.

2) After the purchase, you will need to send a hearing aid to a Hi Health Innovation service center for repair. This can be inconvenient and leave you without a hearing aid until it is shipped back to you. The website indicates that Hi Health Innovations is the only authorized service center for warranty service so you can’t go to your neighborhood hearing center,

3) Standard warranty is a limited 1 year coverage that does not include damage from moisture or sweat or excessive wax build up. Unfortunately, these are the type of problems common in Florida because of the heat and humidity. Loss replacement during the first year amounts to a $200 discount off the purchase of a replacement plus shipping. Replacement due to damage not covered by the warranty amounts to a $199 charge plus shipping. The replacement of a damaged aid is available once per device, within 3 years of original purchase.

We at Gardner Audiology can provide UHC members with a hearing exam that they can mail to the UHC hearing aid vendors. Call Gardner Audiology at 1-800-277-1182 for more information.

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