Can You Hear Me Now?

What?Yeah.

A what?  preceding my answer has become my natural response to most things people say to me because I’m so used to not hearing what people say.

More than 10 years ago I had hearing aids.  I stopped wearing them after they shrieked every time I swept my hair behind my ear and they picked up too much background noise, made it difficult to clearly understand what people right in front of me were saying.

After recent hearing tests showed that my right ear’s hearing is still greatly impaired, and since technology has (hopefully) advanced in the past 10+ years, I recently saw an audiologist about getting a hearing aid.

hearing

This test is from 2011.  I don’t have a record of the most recent one but my hearing has reduced in both ears compared to this test (possibly in addition to pulsatile tinnitus).  The X’s represent the left ear (my good ear), and the O’s represent my right ear. Because I have tinnitus (ringing in my ears), a lot of my tests show different results in the higher frequencies because my ears tend to mimic the ringing and I don’t know if it’s the test or my tinnitus.  Often times the O’s will also completely drop off in the higher frequencies, much like the X’s did in this one.

Since my ears are small, I have to stick with an over-the-ear hearing aid and I was shocked to see the greatly reduced size of the over-the-ear aids compared to my old ones!  I was also shocked to hear the cost of even the most basic OTE design was $1550!  Up to $2,800 for the most advanced (better at filtering out background noise) OTE!  Yet another shock was from the audiologist telling me that less than 5% of insurance companies cover hearing aids.

What?

Most insurance companies, mine included, do not cover the cost of hearing aids.  It’s because hearing aids are considered elective, much like plastic surgery or liposuction!  It’s kind of ridiculous really.  You’d think repairing one of the five senses wouldn’t be elective!

WHERE TO GO FROM HERE

Option 1)  What?  Yeah, keep on being hard of hearing.

Option 2)  Apply for SSI?  My Otolaryngologist said my right ear is bad enough to apply for SSI but I doubt they’d approve me for just one really bad ear.  But I also have tinnitus, PT, and severe TMJ.  I’m not sure if those are things that qualify people for SSI?  I know other cancer survivors with similar conditions that have been approved for SSI.  I just know that I wouldn’t be approved the first time around and you’re supposed to get an attorney.  The whole process seems long and time consuming, especially considering I WANT to and CAN work…I just can’t get hired!

Option 3)  Save up money to pay for cheapest hearing aid out of pocket.  How long would it take to save $1550?  Realistically, probably a year considering I’d still like to continue putting anything extra towards our credit card debt.

Option 4)  They have a 12 month, interest-free, repayment option.  For the most basic aid, I’d be paying about $125-150 a month, $160-250 a month for the more advanced aids.  We could probably squeeze that out, but I’d feel more comfortable doing this only after credit card debts are zeroed.

Option 5)  For about half the cost, I could get one of these hearing aids.  However, I am not sure this would stay in my ear and I’d require a mold, unsure if it’s customizable that way.

Option 6)  Hunt for secondary insurance that does cover hearing aids.  How much more would this cost each month?  If it includes chiropractic care, it may be something worth looking in to.

Option 7)  Hubby’s looking into the Exceptional Family Member Program.  A friend said she got her hearing covered through that program.

For now, like I do with my debt, I will continue to keep on keeping on!  I’m really hoping that we can get more information on the EFM Program and qualify for the coverage there.  I also continue to be on the fence about SSI.  How many months have I been applying for a gazillion jobs with no results?

Would you apply for SSI in my shoes?  (My cancer story for new readers)

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7 thoughts on “Can You Hear Me Now?

  1. Those are all very tough choices… Of course, #7, 6 and 2 would have to be ruled out first. Then I’d probably go into options 3 and 6, but avoiding 4… Although you could use options 3 AND 4 at the same time, if you can squeeze the payments while still saving some money to pay it in full before it becomes interest bearing. #6 may be worth looking if you don’t have affordable coverage under the spouse. You may qualify to go on your own under health exchange programs. I’ve never had a life threatening illness or disability, so I can’t honestly gauge whether I’d truthfully apply for SSI if I were in your shoes.

    • I’ve tried to look at the marketplace to compare insurance but have had nothing but trouble. It won’t let me log in, my password isn’t working and it’s saying I’m getting my security questions wrong when I try to reset it. My husband’s insurance is pretty decent, I guess, but it doesn’t cover the cost of hearing aids…or a lot of other things that we end up paying out of pocket for. :/

    • Thanks. They always deny everyone the first time they apply, it’s how they weed out people. I guess my issue is more of that I should have done this years ago when I was fresh out of high school because I’ve actually worked (part-time, minimum wage) since my disabilities first arose, as a result of the cancer I had when I was 9.

  2. I had no idea insurance doesn’t pay for hearing aides. That’s absolutely crazy to me. Hearing isn’t really “optional”. Tough choices, I hope that something works out for you. I have a lot of clients on social security, sadly it’s really not much to live on unless you have subsidized housing or a really inexpensive place to live.

    • Thanks. I had no idea either. Some states have laws that require coverage for mostly children under 18, that’s probably why I got hearing aids as a kid. I have several relatives on social security and I know it’s not much to live on but my husband and I are currently living solely on his income so it would just be a little extra help. I’m getting so frustrated with the job search and applications. I’ve had a whopping 3 interviews since I moved out here two years ago. It feels like it’s useless, a waste of time. 😦

  3. Pingback: Wishful Wednesday | Debt Perception

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