UnitedHealthcare has launched a new business unit – UnitedHealthcare Hearing, offering all consumers — including people enrolled in the company’s individual, employer-sponsored and Medicare Advantage plans — greater access to affordable, quality hearing health.
For millions of people nationwide, UnitedHealthcare Hearing provides 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, the nation’s largest provider of hearing health benefits, 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,” Tom Wiffler, CEO of UnitedHealthcare Specialty Benefits, said in a statement. “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.”
Through EPIC Hearing Healthcare, more 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 have more robust 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.
hi HealthInnovations sells premium, state-of-the-art hearing aids to people 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. ii
UnitedHealthcare Hearing 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.
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. Specifically, first responders in 10 cities across the country are receiving earplug donations — including Cleveland, Dallas, Miami, Minneapolis, San Antonio, Seattle, St. Paul, Minn., and Washington, D.C.
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.