UnitedHealthcare launches hearing care-focused business unit

UnitedHealthcare is launching a new business unit for hearing care. 

The insurer announced on Thursday that it would create UnitedHealthcare Hearing, which will unify hearing benefits offered by EPIC Hearing Healthcare and hearing care provided by hi HealthInnovations, a direct-to-consumer company. 

Both are current UHC subsidiaries. Uniting the two will allow UHC to offer hearing benefits across all of the UnitedHealthcare’s membership, which includes individual, employer-sponsored and Medicare Advantage. 

“UnitedHealthcare Hearing expands our whole-person benefit plans that offer greater access to quality, cost-effective care for the millions of Americans we serve,” Tom Wiffler, CEO of UnitedHealthcare Specialty Benefits, said in a statement. 

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A key initiative under the new business unit will be offering hearing aids at prices that are up to 80% less than those purchased elsewhere, according to the announcement. UHC noted that an estimated 48 million Americans have some degree of hearing loss—but many choose not to seek care because it is often costly and hearing benefits may be scant. Wiffler said that providing members with more comprehensive hearing coverage and services can also impact their care in other areas. 

“Helping people maintain or improve their hearing health can enhance their overall well-being and reduce their risk of falls and health conditions associated with untreated hearing loss, such as depression and dementia,” he said. 

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UnitedHealthcare said in the announcement that combining specialty benefits with traditional medical plans can offer more value for employers and plan members, as it offers a more comprehensive menu of options in an integrated platform. For example, adding UnitedHealthcare Hearing benefits would include EPIC’s national network of 5,000 hearing care providers, according to the announcement.