My Insurance Company Offered a Free Hearing Test, Why Are You Charging Me for Services?

We have had several patients confused by marketing pieces received from their managed care insurance plan regarding hearing healthcare.  Oftentimes, a “routine hearing exam” is marketed and offered “for free” to participants. This can cause incredible confusion, as what is being offered “for free” is VERY DIFFERENT than a Diagnostic Hearing Test, which is required by state law prior to the fitting of hearing devices. Not only is a diagnostic hearing test required for fitting devices, when performed by a Medicare credentialed audiologist, it is a service billed to and covered by Medicare and CANNOT be offered for free. 

A free hearing exam or a hearing screening can be offered as a way to determine if a patient should schedule a diagnostic hearing test with an audiologist.  It is a tool used to determine if a patient hears within normal limits and is simply pass/fail. A hearing screening is not enough to properly diagnose or treat hearing loss and does not fulfill the criteria required by the State of Maryland for fitting hearing devices. 

Mandated Requirements for Hearing Aid Fitting in Maryland

  • Pure Tone Audiometric Testing:  This is a comprehensive test that includes air and bone conduction testing to accurately determine the type and degree of hearing loss.
  • Effective Masking: When necessary, masking is used to ensure that only the ear being tested receives the sound during the test and helps determine the true extent of the diagnosed hearing loss.
  • Speech Audiometry (Speech Reception Threshold & Speech Recognition): This testing measures how well a patient can hear and recognize speech in noise.  A list of words is provided to the patient to repeat back, and the audiologist records the softest level at which the patient can repeat the words accurately.

This testing is required for hearing aid fitting and is only good for six months following the date of testing.  If devices are purchased after six months, another test is required.

While we understand that many patients may be confused by the different terminology used within the hearing healthcare industry, rest assured that as a Medicare credential private practice audiology clinic, we follow Medicare guidelines for testing and abide by all Maryland state requirements for the fitting of hearing devices.  Should you have any questions about your insurance, the testing performed by our clinic, or hearing devices in general, please do not hesitate to contact our office via telephone at 443-295-7100.