OPM Asks FEHB Program Carriers to Enhance Hearing Care Benefits for Children
In March 2007, United States Office of Personnel Management (OPM) issued its annual call letter to health plans participating in the Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) program. This letter outlines OPM's policy goals for 2008 and includes an annual call for proposals on benefits and rates from FEHB program carriers. Highlighted in the letter as one of their key initiatives, OPM encouraged carriers to submit proposals for increased coverage of hearing benefits for newborns and children. The OPM further stated, "Hearing loss is one of the most common congenital birth defects. We urge you to review your current hearing benefits to ensure that newborns and children have coverage for appropriate screenings, testing, diagnostic evaluations, and treatment by licensed hearing professionals, including audiologists. We are encouraging proposals that include benefits for both professional services as well as hearing aids."
In 2004, Congress previously asked the (OPM) to study the feasibility of offering additional hearing benefits for Federal employees, retirees, and their dependents. Hearing benefits, including screening, testing for hearing impairment, and treatment, including hearing aids. The report presented by the OPM features the current benefits in addition to a description of additional benefits that could be offered in addition to those currently available to FEHB enrollees. The OPM considered input from the hearing-health community to make a determination on this matter.