If you have been recommended to buy hearing aids for yourself, the first thing that comes to mind is the cost of hearing aids. Most of the hearing professionals shall confirm that digital variety of hearing aids with noise management features are the better hearing aid options compared to analog or semi-digital varieties. Now apparently digital hearing aids are more expensive and force people with lesser budgets to re-think their requirement. Let us discover the different financing options for hearing aids:
1. CGHS Beneficiary: If you have served in the central government and are covered under CGHS i.e. central govt. health scheme, then you are eligible for some reimbursement from the government. However don’t think that process is very easy as practically you have to get a hearing test done subsequent to which you have to have a written consent from a government ENT doctors, you need to have 3 quotations for the hearing device you need to purchase and then your department may grant you the reimbursement. Worst part, the govt. ENT shall recommend which hearing aid is to be used!
Although the system is good but where the problem occurs is that the doctor certifying your hearing aids doesn’t consult any audiologist and most of the places are plagued with bias and corruption! However if you get through all this then as per the government mandate which is not very logical, you are eligible for the following:
- Body worn/ pocket model type- Rs. 2,500
- Analog BTE- Rs. 7,000
- Digital BTE- Rs. 20,000
- ITC/CIC- Rs. 25,000
Personally the flaw with this is that Analogue/ body worn hearing aids shouldn’t be there in the system at all. I don’t say that these hearing aids are not beneficial; rather these hearing aids will only benefit people with profound hearing losses. Issue arises when certifying doctor starts writing analog hearing aids for everyone without having much knowledge about hearing requirements or hearing instruments. The CGHS Beneficiary is forced to comply with the same.
Another issue arises when ceiling for Digital BTE & ITC/CIC prices are fixed to Rs. 20,000 & Rs. 25,000. What the policy makers in the government don’t understand is that CIC & BTE hearing aids can be of the same price and it depends again on the requirement of the individual his/her hearing loss, Canal Size, otology issues with the ear etc. This is again pretty much the function of a qualified hearing professional to analyze the requirement of the individual failing which the patient is forced to compromise with whatever is available. Patient being at the receiving end with no knowledge never gets the best out of the govt. funds and several private hearing centers and hearing aid companies in our country try to lure the recommending govt. doctor so as to give a biased consent.
This problem can be solved if patient can understand his requirement from the hearing professional and seek recommendation from govt. ENT doctor basis his comfort.
2. EMI Schemes: if you are not a CGHS beneficiary then there still a hope to finance this through EMI facility. However this facility is not available everywhere. Firstly, don’t be mistaken, there are no bank approved loans like home loans, car loans etc for purchasing hearing aids. However some hearing centers have installed EDC machines from various banks which allow the conversion of one-time payment into easy installments of 3 months to 6 months. However there are charges for the same in terms of interest and if you find a center which offers you interest free EMI then definitely the center is allowing you some discount whereas it is bearing the charges on its own. Most of the centers shy away from providing such schemes unless they have to kill their competition and the industry isn’t big enough for banks to start providing such schemes to the users.
3. Health Cards & Arogyashree & Insurance: Most of the health card schemes do no cover hearing aids, neither do the insurance; only in certain hospitals such as ENT hospital in Koti, Hyderabad and similar like it, they provide non-digital hearing aids under arogyashree scheme for free. Problem with this is that most of the time the stock isn’t sanctioned due to red-tapism and all the more you are getting non-digital hearing device. Arogyashree is beneficial for children below 2 years of age and born deaf as they can get reimbursement on cochlear implantation which cost in excess of 5lakhs. However, these poor beneficiaries still have to struggle for finances for post-operative rehabilitation in subsequent months.
For middle class and above, it is easy to buy hearing aids provided there is a thought for it and a will to do justice to their impaired sense of hearing. Most of the people with decent pocket also shy away from wearing hearing aids due to social stigma or simply their un-awareness. I have personally come across several cases who know they have a hearing problem yet they ask this question-is it necessary to wear a hearing aids or can I do without it? Ignorance they will never follow if they have a heart condition. We spend much just to keep living, just to keep breathing; however some are ready to compromise on the quality of their life by letting go of their sense of hearing. What good is a world if you cannot hear the sounds of it!
Please write to us your feedback and if you have other financing options to discuss We shall be delighted to publish the same on our website if it benefits the hearing impaired population: