Take Advantage of End of the Year Savings on Hearing Aids
The end of the year is a busy time full of activities. Family, school, and work obligations can keep you running constantly, without the time to consider other important things – such as whether you have used all of the health care benefits covered by your insurance. Insurance concerns may not be high on your holiday list, but you could be wasting money by not reviewing your insurance usage before the end of the year.
The end of a calendar year is a great time to consider purchasing new hearing devices or upgrading your existing set.
Open Enrollment Time - Health Insurance
This is the time of year when many employers ask you to re-enroll in your health insurance plans. It's the time to choose the plan that best meets your healthcare needs, as well as adding healthcare flexible spending accounts (FSA) or other perks. If you are changing healthcare plans, it's a good time to see if your 2017 plan or the upcoming 2018 plan have better coverage for hearing healthcare needs.
Do I need separate hearing healthcare coverage?
While many employers offer dental or vision insurance as a separate plan, most health insurance plans that cover general healthcare needs, such as primary care and visits to specialists, include hearing healthcare as part of that overall coverage. Most plans offer one comprehensive hearing test during every 12 month period, if you suspect a change in your hearing levels.
Will my health insurance plan cover hearing aids?
Health insurance plans consider hearing aids to be a type of Durable Medical Equipment (other examples can include crutches, wheelchairs, and blood glucose monitoring strips used in treatment of diabetes). In years past, it was true that for most people, hearing aids were an out of pocket expense, but health insurers are starting to understand the quality of life change that hearing aids can bring. Many plans now offer benefits to cover a portion of the cost of hearing instruments. Call the member services number to inquire whether or not they offer coverage for hearing aids—and whether that coverage will continue to be available in 2018.
Benefits for Hearing Aid Upgrades or Replacements
If your health insurance plan offers benefits for hearing aids, also check with them to determine how often the benefits are renewed. Commonly, benefits for new hearing aids are offered once every 3 years or once every 5 years, allowing for upgrades (due to improvements in technology or change in hearing levels), or for a backup set of instruments. Some plans even cover pediatric devices every 12 months.
Does your insurance plan have a deductible that must be met each year? If that is the case with your plan, year-end is a good time to make medical purchases or plan procedures, before your deductible resets in January.
Flex Savings Account
Do you have a Flexible Savings Account through your employer? In most cases, you must use any remaining funds in your account before December 31, or you’ll forfeit your remaining balance. Amounts paid for a hearing aid and hearing aid batteries are eligible medical expenses. Accessories such as remotes, streamers, and dehumidifiers are included, as are any needed repairs to the hearing instruments.
Hearing aids count as a medical expense on your taxes filed in April 2018 if they are purchased before December 31, 2017. Specifically, on your federal income tax return, you can deduct the portion of your medical and dental expenses that exceed ten percent (10%) of your adjusted gross income (AGI). (However, if you or your spouse was born before January 2, 1949, the deduction threshold is 7.5% of your AGI.)
Hearing Well for the Holidays
The end of the year often brings family gatherings. Take care of your hearing now to make sure you’re hearing well at parties and social gatherings this year.
Questions? Contact us at 410-672-1233 (Odenton) or 410-672-1244 (Severna Park).