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ARTICLE Affordable Hearing Aids Now Available to Millions of UnitedHealthcare Health Plan Customers


SEATTLE (Aug. 20, 2012) – UnitedHealthcare is donating 3,500 backpacks to community organizations in economically disadvantaged neighborhoods across Washington.


MINNETONKA, Minn. (Aug. 30, 2012) – High-tech, custom-programmed hearing aids are now available at affordable prices to the more than 26 million people enrolled in UnitedHealthcare employer-sponsored and individual health benefit plans.


Hearing aids can cost thousands of dollars, but the new discount program enables UnitedHealthcare plan participants to purchase hearing aids starting at only $479 each. The discount program is an expansion of an affordable hearing aid benefit that UnitedHealthcare Medicare Advantage and Part D plan members already enjoy, with some of those members paying no out-of-pocket costs for the devices. Retail consumers can pay $749 to $949 per device, which also represents a deep discount compared to most competitor prices.


The hearing aids are being provided through a collaboration with hi HealthInnovations, an Optum business and UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH) company. Plan participants and consumers interested in purchasing an affordable hearing aid should ask a health care provider, including primary care physicians, audiologists or hi HealthInnovations hearing professionals, for a hearing test. The test results (an audiogram) can then be submitted online at www.hiHealthInnovations.com. Many consumers can have the device sent directly to their residence.


Hearing loss affects one in five Americans ages 12 and older. While 90 percent of people with hearing loss can benefit from hearing aids, fewer than 20 percent currently use them, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Often, the high cost of most hearing aids is a barrier for consumers to use them.


"Cost is a significant barrier for millions of Americans suffering from hearing loss, and this new discount will help make hearing aids more accessible and affordable for more people nationwide," said Sam Ho, M.D., chief medical officer of UnitedHealthcare. "Hearing health plays a critical role in people's overall health and well-being. Untreated hearing loss can affect a person's ability to stay connected to friends and family, contributing to social isolation, depression and lower income."


hi HealthInnovations' hearing aids use advanced technology to enhance speech understanding and listening comfort. Each hearing aid is custom-programmed to a user's specific hearing needs based on his or her hearing test results. Every hearing test result and hearing aid order is reviewed by a licensed hearing professional to determine suitability.


hi HealthInnovations hearing professionals are available in many cities around the country, offering hearing health seminars in local communities and offering education and aural rehabilitation services in person, over the phone or online. Customers may attend new-user seminars on topics such as effective communication strategies, and access online captioned training videos about how to use, clean and maintain hearing aids.


"Consumers and employers are looking for options that make hearing aids more affordable and accessible, so this collaboration with UnitedHealthcare will help address millions of Americans' hearing needs," said Lisa Tseng, M.D., CEO of hi HealthInnovations.


Consumers can access hearing testing through a hi HealthInnovations hearing professional or other health care providers. hi HealthInnovations encourages customers to seek care from hearing health professionals such as audiologists and ear nose and throat doctors in their communities.


About UnitedHealthcare
UnitedHealthcare is dedicated to helping people nationwide live healthier lives by simplifying the health care experience, meeting consumer health and wellness needs, and sustaining trusted relationships with care providers. The company offers the full spectrum of health benefit programs for individuals, employers and Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries, and contracts directly with more than 650,000 physicians and care professionals and 5,000 hospitals nationwide. UnitedHealthcare serves more than 38 million people and is one of the businesses of UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH), a diversified Fortune 50 health and well-being company.


About UnitedHealth Group
UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH) is a diversified health and well-being company dedicated to helping people live healthier lives and making health care work better. With headquarters in Minnetonka, Minn., UnitedHealth Group offers a broad spectrum of products and services through two distinct platforms: UnitedHealthcare, which provides health care coverage and benefits services; and Optum, which provides information and technology-enabled health services. Through its businesses, UnitedHealth Group serves more than 75 million people worldwide.