Dr. Jill Bernstein discusses the work we do as a non-profit audiology practice – including our recent accomplishment of fitting over 300 people with hearing aids through our Ann E. Stadelmaier fund!
Hearing Evaluation Services of Buffalo (HES) is pleased to announce that they have now fit over 300 people in Western New York in financial need with a brand new digital hearing aid through the Dr. Ann E. Stadelmaier Hearing Aid Fund!
HES established this fund in memory of their former Executive Director, Dr. Ann E. Stadelmaier who passed away in 2006 after a long battle with cancer. Since its inception, the fund has been generously supported by 45 local Lions Clubs who donate to offset the costs of running the fund. Our staff is extremely proud of the Dr. Ann E. Stadelmaier fund, which has helped so many individuals in Western New York hear better. These members of our local community could not have afforded to do so without the help of the fund.
We would like to thank our local Lions Clubs for their continued support. As a non-profit organization, HES is dedicated to helping all people hear better and looks forward to continuing to help more individuals in WNY.
The fund provides hearing assistance to individuals in need who cannot otherwise afford these services in Erie, Niagara, Chautauqua and Cattaraugus counties.
HES’ Dr. Jill Bernstein was a featured guest on WNY Living to discuss the understanding of your hearing health benefits and programs through your insurance companies!
We are pleased to announce the launch of our new radio campaign on WHTT 104.1 FM. In addition to advertising on a new station, we also have a new series of commercials airing that feature our wide array of programs and services.
We have also re-launched our television campaign on WGRZ – Channel 2! In addition to highlighting the stories of our patients, John and Nanette, we have added a commercial about Missy from Youngstown, and her beautiful journey of enjoying life again! We would like to once again thank John, Nanette and Missy for their help with our campaign, and letting Western New York know that – It’s Good to Hear!
HES’ Dr. Jill Bernstein was a featured guest on WNY Living to discuss the technological advances in hearing aid technology has reached incredible capabilities. If you notice you may be suffering from hearing loss, contact Hearing Evaluation Services of Buffalo.
There are so many different kinds of insurance programs out there, many of which seem to change year to year. If you are confused, you’re not alone! We have asked the HES Insurance Specialist, Valerie Schmidt to share with us some frequently asked questions she receives when it comes to insurance – and some helpful answers:
What does insurance typically cover?
Nearly all insurances cover baseline hearing tests. There is no minimum age requirement. Other diagnostic tests are typically covered as well. This would include balance or dizziness tests or more extensive hearing testing, if necessary. There are also several different ways that insurance companies support hearing aids but there is a wide variety of ways they go about it. It all depends on your insurance program.
Are Hearing Aids covered by Insurance?
There are a wide variety of programs for hearing aids, depending on the individual insurance company and specific insurance policy. Some companies allocate a certain amount they will contribute towards hearing aids. Others participate with hearing aid discount programs, but unfortunately these programs can be extremely limiting in the type of device a patient can receive with very limited choices. Many patients will also use their flex dollars towards their hearing aids or use it to upgrade to a more advanced device than what their insurance covered.
What is the difference between a hearing aid benefit and a hearing aid discount program?
A hearing aid benefit is money paid by the insurance company to pay all or part of the cost of any hearing aid the patient chooses. It is similar to how insurance companies cover costs towards eye glasses. A hearing aid discount program gives the patient access to hearing aids at a reduced price that the patient pays for entirely. The insurance company pays nothing. These discount programs often have a very limited selection available with limited services included.
Can I use flex dollars towards hearing aids?
Yes! Flex dollars can be used towards hearing devices and any custom ear mold offered through Hearing Evaluation Services. Many patients use this as a way to upgrade from their basic insurance contribution to get a hearing device with some of the newest technological features – such as Bluetooth connectivity, functional smart phone apps, and rechargeable batteries.
What’s the biggest misconception when it comes to insurance coverage?
Unfortunately, some people think that access to discounted hearing aids is the same as an insurance benefit. It’s not. Since the insurance company does not actually contribute to the cost of the hearing aids, the patient pays the whole bill. Additionally, many of these plans try to limit where patients can go to get their hearing aids and they work with high pressure sales companies. When you come to HES, we will check your insurance and make sure you know all your options, we honor your insurance benefits or discounts, and we never use high pressure tactics.
If you have any questions about your insurance program, we encourage you to call Valerie Schmidt at 716-833-4488, or you can attend one of our upcoming complimentary insurance seminars.
As a non-profit organization, Hearing Evaluation Services of Buffalo aims to not only provide top-notch hearing healthcare but also to be a valuable resource to all of our patients about the entire process of learning about and treating hearing loss.
Valerie Schmidt is our on-staff Insurance Specialist, and the person who can help you with any and all questions regarding your hearing health benefits through your insurance program.
Valerie joined our team in 2013 with several years of experience in medical billing, consulting and auditing. She continually grows her knowledge through continuing education as a Certified Medical Billing Specialist.
As the lead presenter of our complimentary insurance seminars, Valerie has been a key resource in helping patients better understand their insurance benefits and navigate the very confusing world of hearing health insurance. She also handles all messages from our website for our special “Ask the Insurance Specialist” feature found on our home page.
If you have questions about your specific insurance program or would simply like to have a better understanding of hearing health insurance, we invite you to attend one of our complimentary insurance seminars, ask us through our website feature, or call our insurance line!
Join us in welcoming our incoming 2018- 2019 Doctoral Residents, Heidi Ludwig, Eileen Clark, and Shannon McKinney:
She will graduate in May 2019, hoping to pursue her interest in electrophysiology and vestibular assessment.
Eileen’s interest in Audiology began when she was required to take audiology classes for her intended field of speech-language pathologist. She soon discovered that her interest was in the audiology classes. She is now a member of the Student Academy of Audiology.
Outside of her Audiology work, she grew up as a competitive dancer and still enjoys tap and ballet in her free time. She also enjoys time outside and exploring the local neighborhood.
Heidi Ludwig, a native of Toronto, Ontario, attended Brock University to study Speech and Language Sciences. She later received the Communicative Disorders Assistant (CDA) certification from Georgian College.
She will be graduating from Syracuse University in May 2019, where she then hopes to provide the best patient-focused care to audiological and vestibular patients, as an Audiologist, striving to address all future patient concerns.
Heidi is experienced as a VNG technician where she assisted the assessment of vestibular disorders and working as a cochlear implant technician. She is also certified as a speechreading instructor through the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association.
Heidi is very interested in vestibular, cochlear implants, and patient-focused aural rehabilitation groups, and enjoys working in audiology, aiming to acquire her Doctorate in the field.
Outside of her Audiological work, Heidi enjoys learning and teaching others as much as she can. During her graduate studies she was chosen to be the teacher of perspective audiology students.
Shannon McKinney, originally from Clinton, New Jersey, attended Bloomsburg University where she received her Bachelors of Science in Speech Language Pathology and Audiology while minoring in Psychology and concentrating in Aging Studies and Gerontology.
She will be graduating in May 2019 from East Tennessee State University and hopes to work as a military audiologist to provide hearing healthcare for active duty and veteran populations. She also plans to service those that do not have access to personalized healthcare and audiologic services through mission trips and philanthropic pursuits.
Shannon enjoys studying Aural Rehabilitation and Tinnitus Management and plans to help improve patients communication through these studies. She has also presented research involving the development of a Speech and Noise measure that could be implemented for patient use.
Outside of her study in Audiology, Shannon enjoys being outdoors, hiking, painting, and listening to music.
“I chose audiology because it allows me to work in a caring profession that puts the patient and their personal goals/challenges at the center focus. I want to encourage patients that there are always options to improve hearing, communication, and quality of life.” – Shannon Mckinney
We are happy to announce the launch of a brand new phone system at Hearing Evaluation Services. With this new system, we are able to provide you with an improved experience whenever you call our office.
We now have one single centralized number– (716)833-4488. With this centralized number, we are hoping to dramatically reduce any wait or hold times when you call, while also allowing us to give you the time and attention you need on the phone.
Another change you may notice is that any one of our Patient Care Coordinators may answer your call – regardless of their office location. With this change, we thought this would be a great opportunity to introduce you to all of our outstanding Patient Care Coordinators and office support staff who you may speak with on the phone.
Cindy – Cindy has been with HES since 2005 and is the primary PCC at our Orchard Park office.
Janet – Janet has been with HES since 2013 and is the primary PCC at our Tonawanda office.
Tracy – Tracy has been with HES since 2014 and is the primary PCC at our Amherst office.
Tiffany – Tiffany has been with HES since 2017 and is the primary PCC at our Williamsville office.
Kristen – Kristen has been with HES since 2010. In addition to supervising the PCCs, Kristen also schedules tinnitus and ototoxic monitoring appointments.
Stephanie – Stephanie has been with HES since 2016. Stephanie assists on projects and schedules tinnitus and ototoxic monitoring appointments.
Michele – Michele has been with HES since 2015. Michele is a back-up PCC and processes hearing aid benefit claims.
Valerie – Valerie has been with HES since 2013. Valerie is the Insurance Specialist at HES and is available to answer questions regarding insurance benefits.
Joyce – Joyce has been with HES since 1985. In addition to supervising the Billing Department, Joyce also takes phone calls on busy days.
You can also read their full bios, by clicking on our staff page here!
One of the biggest challenges we face with our patients is getting them to overcome the stigma that is still, unfortunately, attached to hearing aids. On average, people wait about seven years from the time they first notice their hearing issues before they take the next step to get the appropriate corrective device.
People have the false perception that hearing aids signify old age or disability; both are untrue. People are also concerned about having big, bulky devices on their ears or no longer being able to do some of the things they enjoy; also untrue.
In fact, we almost always see patients who wish they had acted sooner because they had no idea about the technological advancement and miniaturization of hearing aids through the years. Here is just a little reminder of some of the new technology you may see:
Smartphone and Bluetooth Compatibility
Almost all hearing aids today have built-in Bluetooth technology. This allows the user to hear phone calls directly through their hearing aids and stream music, movies, or other forms of entertainment from their smartphone, tablet or other Bluetooth devices.
Many hearing aids now offer the convenience of rechargeable batteries. No more dead batteries at inopportune moments or fumbling with insertion of fresh batteries. Many existing hearing aid models can be converted to be compatible with rechargeable batteries so ask your audiologist if you are interested in this option.
Automatic Program Changes
Hearing devices have built-in technology that is sophisticated enough to recognize what kind of listening situation you are in. Is quiet? Are there other people taking around you? Is there music playing? The hearing devices are constantly taking an “acoustic snapshot” of your listening environment and instantly making adjustments in order to help you hear speech better in whatever situation you are in and as you transition through different environments during the course of your day.
Often times when a patient is first fit with hearing devices, they will notice their own voice is more pronounced than when they were are wearing the hearing aids. Hearing devices are able to help correct for this occlusion effect until you are able to naturally acclimate to it on your own.
Feedback Reduction (Whistling)
A hearing aid should not whistle or buzz. If it does, there is usually ear wax blocking sound from getting into the ear canal properly or the hearing aid is not fit properly causing sound to leak out of the ear. This is called “feedback.” Feedback reduction technology allows the hearing aid to detect when feedback is happening and eliminates it until you can have the problem evaluated by one of our audiologists.
Wind Noise Reduction
Wind noise can be bothersome for a hearing aid user, especially if you spend a lot of time outdoors. Golfers, gardeners, and runners/walkers can all benefit from this feature, which automatically recognizes and suppresses wind noise when you’re spending time outdoors.
Lyric Hearing System (Invisible Hearing Aids)
Hearing Evaluation Services (HES) is proud to be one of the select providers to offer Lyric. Lyric is the world’s first and only 100% invisible hearing aid that can be worn 24/7 for up to four months.
Unlike many other hearing aids, Lyric is positioned completely inside the ear canal, so it uses your ear’s natural anatomy to funnel sound to your eardrum. This unique design and placement helps provide an exceptionally natural sound quality.
If you would like to learn more about any of devices that have these technologies, or even try a free demo, please visit HESofBuffalo.org, or call us today for an appointment.