The health plan says the program will save patients thousands of dollars, but physicians question whether it’s good medicine.
A United HealthGroup subsidiary said it can provide
hearing tests and hearing aids at a deep discount for patients by
“eliminating intermediaries” that drive up cost. United and its subsidiary, hi HealthInnovations, said
“intermediaries” doesn’t refer to physicians, and that the company will
encourage patients to see their doctors for certain hearing problems. But physicians who diagnose and treat hearing loss said that even if
it’s not the aim, promoting a service that could leave physicians out of
the loop is potentially dangerous. They said patients who skip the
doctor’s office in favor of United’s self-administered test risk missing
treatable underlying conditions or making the conditions worse.