Although although people would like to hear better by purchasing a hearing aid, the high upfront cost proves challenging. Time after time, the number one reason people cannot buy a hearing aid is cost.
Since the complaint is so widespread we wrote an article to help educate you, the consumer, on the payment platforms available to help you break up the cost over a longer time frame.
A Simple Explanation of Financing for Hearing Aid Consumers
Most platforms function in the same way. After your hearing instrument specialist or audiologist recommends you purchase a hearing aid – it works something like this:
1) You ask to borrow money & receive a line of credit
2)You show your credit worthiness by demonstrating that you can pay it back either through a credit score check or proof of incoming income
4) You get time to pay it back – usually in increments of 6 months, 12 months, 24 months, or 36 months
5) Avoid paying interest by making your minimum monthly payments & paying the full amount by the end of the pay period
These payment platforms can help you stave off the initial purchase of paying out of pocket. Typically this conversation will occur at your local audiologist’s clinic. They will offer their financing options to you and go over rates, minimum payments, fees, and interest.
Know that you are not obliged to take their plan upfront. It helps to do some research first and see if what you find online can compete with their plan!
There are many options for financing your medical purchase. Hearing aid payment options include: Care Credit, Affirm, BoomFi, and workplace benefits like an FSA, and HSA.
Care Credit is a preloaded credit card you can apply towards medical expenses with discount. It was originally created in 1987 to help consumers cover the costs of dental care. Today, around 200,000 health care providers, ENTs, audiologists, and hearing clinics partner with Care Credit.
The company is one of the largest in the nation and offers no interest options for purchases over $200 for terms of 6, 12, 18, and 24 months. You can apply through your participating healthcare professional or directly on Credit Care’s website.
If you’re looking for more flexibility, take a look at Affirm. Their card isn’t limited to just medical clinics; purchases can be used for online shopping, retail, flight tickets, and other immediate expenses.
To their credit, Affirm has a Net Promoter Score of 82, indicating that their company’s customers are satisfied with the service. They are based out of San Francisco and have been around since 2012.
SayWhat’s team attended the #AAAConf18 in Nashville, Tennessee. The event was sponsored by the American Academy of Audiology and it gave us a chance to meet some industry heavy hitters.
A company that we encountered was BoonFi, a provider of financing options for consumers and merchants. They work with individuals to build a line of credit towards their hearing aid purchase.
They use your credit score and other online metrics in order to create a customized finance plan create manageable monthly payment plans. Their slogan is upfront: “The more dependable the individual, the better the terms.”
Employee Workplace Benefits
Individuals who are currently employed have further options through their private employer. This section covers:
1) Company insurance plans
2) FSA = Flexible Spending Account
3) HSA = Health Savings Account
Company Sponsored Insurance Plan
If you are currently enrolled in a private insurance plan (e.g. Cigna, Aetna, United Health, Humana) you may need to upgrade your plan to cover the cost of hearing aids. Working and employed individuals can ask their Human Resources manager.
Your HR manager may give you scenarios or stories of previous work colleagues that successfully managed to get their hearing aid through the work provided insurance. If they don’t know off the cuff, they’ll probably direct you to call the insurer directly. A representative or FAQ page on your health care insurer’s website can give you a breakdown of your policy.
A Flexible Spending Account (FSA) allows you to set aside pre-tax dollars that will be specifically allocated toward medical expenses not covered by insurance. When purchasing these items, cardholders can either purchase directly with their FSA card or can purchase with a separate credit card, and submit the invoice for reimbursement from their FSA.
Be aware that FSA funds are time dependent. You “use it or lose it.” Funds may go to waste by the end of the year, when your insurer’s annual plan expires so be sure to your schedule appropriately and purchase your hearing aids within this time frame. You don’t want to lose out on the money you invested into your FSA.
A Health Savings Account (HSA) is a tax-advantaged medical savings account available to taxpayers in the United States who are enrolled in a high-deductible health plan. Funds typically roll over to the next year. They offer a tax advantage since you’re deferring your taxable income – because you’re putting your income for medical expenses only.
Your HSA dollars can be used to help pay deductibles and qualified medical expenses like dental, vision, and hearing care. Learn more about how HSAs work here or speak with your employer.
How to know if you have FSA or HSA?
Call your insurance provider to see if you have either of these accounts associated with your plan. Some employers’ plans provide a match, or offer tax deductions for medical related expenses.
Since hearing aids are a big purchase it is wise to spend your time researching payment options. Unquestionably, a professional at your local hearing care clinic will give you options to help finance your hearing aid purchase.