Does Medicare Cover Hearing Aids?
According to government statistics, nearly 30 million U.S. adults could benefit from hearing aids. Age is the primary factor in predicting hearing loss, with individuals between 60 and 69 most at risk. However, not all individuals who require hearing aids use them. In fact, among seniors aged 70 and older who could benefit from Medicare hearing aids, less than one in three have ever used them.
For those who are just starting to research hearing aids, understanding how to pay for them is likely a concern. In this article, we will provide information on what to expect in terms of Medicare coverage for hearing aids, as well as the costs associated with them.
What is Medicare Hearing Insurance?
Medicare hearing insurance is a type of coverage designed to make hearing care more affordable for aging adults. It provides financial assistance to those who need hearing aids to hear better. With Medicare, hearing insurance, hearing aid consultations, hearing tests, and hearing aids can become more affordable, making hearing health care accessible to more people than ever.
Through Medicare hearing insurance, you may be able to purchase hearing aids that are customized for your particular hearing needs so that you can focus on what matters most: communicating with others and enjoying the day-to-day sounds that life has to offer.
What Are Hearing Aids Covered By Medicare?
So, what are the Medicare coverage for hearing aid? Original Medicare (Part A and Part B) generally does not cover hearing aids or exams for fitting hearing aids. Therefore, there are no specific hearing aids that Original Medicare covers.
However, some Medicare Advantage plans (Part C) may offer additional coverage for hearing aids, but it varies by plan.
These plans are sold by private insurance companies and are an alternative to Original Medicare. They are required to provide at least the same coverage as Original Medicare, but some plans offer additional benefits, such as coverage for hearing aids.
If you are considering purchasing hearing aids and have a Medicare Advantage plan, it is important to check with your plan to see if they cover any hearing aids and, if so, which specific models are covered.
It is also worth noting that some states have laws that mandate insurance companies to provide coverage for hearing aids, so you may want to check with your state government to see if any additional coverage is available.
How to Get a Hearing Aid With Medicare?
If you’ve been hearing the world a little differently lately, it may be time to consider hearing aids.
As Original Medicare (Part A and Part B) generally does not cover hearing aids or exams for fitting hearing aids, getting a hearing aid through Original Medicare can be difficult. However, a few options are available to those with Medicare who need a hearing aid.
- Medicare Advantage plans (Part C): Some private insurance companies may offer additional coverage for hearing aids. It is important to check with your specific plan to see if they cover any hearing aids and, if so, which specific models are covered.
- State Programs: Some states have laws that mandate insurance companies to provide coverage for hearing aids, so you may want to check with your state government to see if any additional coverage is available.
- Financial Assistance: Some organizations offer financial assistance or low-cost hearing aids to those who cannot afford them. Some organizations are specific to certain states, while others are national.
- Out-of-pocket: If you cannot get coverage through the above options, you may pay for the hearing aid out of pocket. Hearing aids vary widely, so shopping for the best price is important.
It is important to check with your plan and state government to see if additional coverage is available and with organizations that provide financial assistance for Medicare and hearing aids. If you cannot get coverage, you can also pay for the hearing aid out-of-pocket.
What Medicare Plan Covers Hearing Tests?
Does Medicare cover hearing tests? Original Medicare (Part A and Part B) may cover the diagnostic hearing and balance exams if your doctor or other health care provider orders them to see if you need medical treatment. However, it does not cover routine hearing exams or hearing aids.
Medicare Part B covers diagnostic Medicare hearing tests and balance exams if your doctor or other health care provider orders them to see if you need medical treatment. These tests may include the following:
- Audiology (hearing) evaluation
- Balance assessment
- Tympanometry (a test that can help determine if there is fluid in the middle ear)
- Acoustic reflex testing (a test that measures the contraction of a muscle in the middle ear in response to a loud sound)
To receive coverage for these tests, you will need to see a healthcare provider that accepts Medicare, and the provider will need to order these tests as medically necessary.
It’s important to note that Original Medicare doesn’t cover routine hearing exams or hearing aids, so if you are looking for those services, you may need to consider a Medicare Advantage plan or additional coverage. Some Medicare Advantage plans (Part C) may offer additional coverage for hearing aids and exams, but it varies by plan.
How Much Does Medicare Pay for Hearing Aids?
Medicare coverage for hearing aids can vary depending on your specific situation. Generally, Medicare doesn’t cover the cost of hearing aids or exams associated with fitting them, but there are exceptions. For example, when a Medicare-approved professional deems that the hearing aid is medically necessary and approved by Medicare, Medicare may pay for some part of the cost.
If you fall into specific categories, such as beneficiaries of Medicaid programs in certain states and Medicare part C enrollees, Medicare might cover all or part of the cost. Additionally, Medicare Part C plans offer more coverage options regarding Medicare hearing aids. It’s best to speak with your Medicare provider to determine whether Medicare covers hearing aids in your specific case.
Which States Offer Medicare Hearing Aids?
Many states throughout the United States offer Medicare, which can help those needing hearing aids. Depending on a person’s specific Medicare plan, it may cover some or all of the cost of one or two hearing aids.
A few states have laws mandating some form of coverage for Medicare and hearing aids, which may include coverage under Medicare Advantage plans. Some examples of states that have laws requiring coverage for hearing aids include:
These Medicare programs are available to those aged 65 and above who meet certain criteria, such as being low-income and having documented hearing loss. If you think you might qualify for Medicare coverage, researching your state’s Medicare plan is an excellent place to start to see the available benefits.
It’s important to note that the coverage and the specific requirements may vary by state, and it’s important to check with your state government or insurance company to understand the specific coverage available.
Why Doesn’t Original Medicare Cover Hearing Aids?
Original Medicare (Part A and Part B) does not cover hearing aids because it is considered a non-essential, elective service. In other words, hearing aids are not considered medically necessary to treat an illness or injury; therefore, they are not covered under Original Medicare. While Medicare offers some coverage for testing and diagnostics related to hearing loss, most expenses related to hearing aids are not covered.
In addition, Medicare is a federal health insurance program established in 1965 and has not been updated to include coverage for hearing aids. While Medicare has been updated to include coverage for other types of durable medical equipment, such as wheelchairs and oxygen tanks, hearing aids have not been added to the list of covered items.
Another reason why Original Medicare doesn’t cover hearing aids is that they are considered to be very expensive, and they are not considered to be as essential as other medical equipment, such as wheelchairs and oxygen tanks. Therefore, it is not considered a priority to cover them under Original Medicare.
This can be a major cost burden as recommended devices can range from several hundred dollars to thousands per aid. Individuals on Medicare who require hearing aid assistance may want to investigate additional Medicare options that may provide greater flexibility or coverage when it comes to Medicare hearing aid coverage.
How Much Does Hearing Aids Cost Without Medicare Coverage?
Purchasing hearing aids can be a significant investment, especially without Medicare coverage. Unfortunately, hearing aids and hearing aid fittings are usually not covered by Medicare. Hearing aids can be quite expensive, with the average cost per aid ranging from $700 to $3,000, depending on the type, model, and features included.
Basic options can be found at a more affordable price point from Costco, while premium options, such as Bluetooth connectivity, can be significantly more expensive. Additionally, it is important to note that most hearing aid costs include audiology services, such as fittings and repairs. By unbundling these services, it may be possible to save on the initial costs of hearing aids.
Even hearing aids that are similar in appearance and performance may have vastly different prices, so it pays to research thoroughly when you buy them. Fortunately, there are ways to reduce the cost or spread the payments over time, such as purchasing through healthcare financing companies, asking your insurance company if they will help with hearing aid and Medicare costs, or simply budgeting for it over time.
In short, Original Medicare (Parts A and B) does not cover hearing aids or the routine tests used to fit them. However, other Medicare plans may offer this coverage. If you have questions or need assistance with your Medicare coverage options for hearing aids, contact us here at Senior Health Advisors today. We can provide guidance and information on navigating your Medicare hearing benefits and other coverage options that may be available to you.