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Cigna Changes Hearing Aid Benefits
Cigna insurance company sent a letter dated June 2, 2014 to all in-contract Maryland hearing aid providers (e.g. Doctors of Audiology and Ear, Nose, and Throat physicians) informing them that Cigna is changing the policy for hearing aid benefits. Effective September 1, 2014, Cigna entered an exclusive partnership with HearPO, a third party hearing aid buying group, to purchase amplification and supplies for Cigna beneficiaries who have a hearing aid benefit. The Cigna-HearPO exclusive partnership will prohibit Cigna members from choosing their hearing healthcare provider and force them to use third party for amplification purchases.
Prior to September 1, 2014, Cigna beneficiaries with a hearing aid benefit were able to choose their provider of care, determine the best amplification and options for their lifestyle and hearing loss, and use the monetary benefit towards the purchase of devices and related supplies. As of September 1, 2014, Cigna members with a hearing aid benefit are required to obtain referrals from Cigna/HearPO, present to the Cigna contracted Audiologist (or ENT office) and order amplification devices and supplies through HearPO only. This new partnership greatly limits Cigna beneficiaries access to providers and limits their amplification options. Additionally, all the hearing aid providers have become a second “middle man” in the process and are automatically contracted with HearPO (although they do not have to be a HearPO provider, outside of the Cigna contract). Providers are now forced to either accept Cigna-HearPO terms of agreement, or should it not be the best quality of care, become a non-participating provider.
The Maryland Academy of Audiology is now collecting feedback, data, outcomes, etc., about this new exclusive partnership. Any provider who provides service to a Cigna/HearPO beneficiary can download and complete the Cigna-HearPO forms.
Providers and Cigna beneficiaries can email completed forms to Alicia Spoor at firstname.lastname@example.org. Upon receiving this information, the exclusive partnership will be re-evaluated, both in the interest for the provider and for the patient.
Maryland Hearing Aid Loan Bank
The Maryland Hearing Aid Loan Bank (HALB) was formed to provide loaned amplification devices to meet the needs of deaf and hard of hearing infants and toddlers in Maryland. The HALB began its eleventh year of operation in January 2014.The HALB is located in the Maryland State Department of Education, in the Division of Special Education/Early Intervention Services, and funded through federal and State resources.
In 2000, the Joint Committee on Infant Hearing found that early amplification of hearing through the use of hearing aids or cochlear implants is essential to support emerging language skills, cognitive skills, and healthy social/emotional development, all of which are essential in forming a solid foundation for school readiness, learning, and success. Infants who are identified with hearing loss early in life can be fitted with hearings aids as young as four weeks of age. The HALB provides access to hearing aids, as soon as possible following the confirmation of hearing loss in an infant or toddler up to three years old. The program ensures young children have access to maximum auditory stimuli during the most critical period of language development. More...
|Maryland Academy of Audiology
P.O. Box 8433
Parkville, MD 21234-0433
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