Does Medicare Cover Hearing Aids?

Navigating the world of Medicare and hearing aids can be challenging. You might be asking, does Medicare cover hearing aids? Sadly, Original Medicare does not. But don’t lose heart—some Medicare Advantage plans include hearing aid benefits.

Our guide explains the ins and outs of Medicare coverage for hearing aids and the opportunities you may have to reduce your hearing aid expenses.

 

Key Takeaways

  • Original Medicare does not cover hearing aids or fitting exams, though medically necessary hearing tests prescribed by a physician are covered under Part B at 80% after the deductible.

 

  • Some Medicare Advantage (Part C) plans offer coverage for hearing aids and exams, with varying degrees of coverage, provider types, and potential restrictions on frequency of aid replacement.

 

  • Medicaid may cover hearing aids depending on the state and individual’s age, with children under 21 often having coverage for hearing health services, while Medigap plans do not cover hearing aids.

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Original Medicare and Hearing Aid Coverage

Primarily designed for older adults and individuals with specific disabilities, Medicare is a federal health insurance program. This program is split into two parts: Original Medicare includes Part A (hospital insurance) and Part B (medical insurance). Unfortunately, Original Medicare does not cover hearing aids.

Under Original Medicare, there is no coverage for hearing aids or exams for fitting them. This means individuals are responsible for the full cost of their hearing aids. However, Medicare Part B does provide coverage for medically necessary hearing tests if they are prescribed by a physician, covering 80% of the test cost after the deductible is met.

 

Medicare Advantage and Hearing Aid Benefits

Why doesn’t Original Medicare cover hearing aids? When the Medicare Act was passed in 1965, there was minimal recognition of the importance of treating hearing loss. At that time, hearing aids were considered affordable and not routinely needed in the federal health insurance program.

 

Medicare Advantage and Hearing Aid Benefits

Despite the lack of hearing aid coverage in Original Medicare, Medicare Advantage plans, or Part C, offer some hope. Certain Medicare Advantage insurance plans do offer coverage for hearing exams and hearing aids.

Additionally, these plans frequently encompass supplementary benefits that are not usually included in Original Medicare.

The types of hearing aid coverage offered by Medicare Advantage plans can vary greatly. They may provide discounts, funded benefits, or limited coverage for specific procedures. Many plans also impose restrictions on the frequency of obtaining hearing aids, often limiting enrollees to one set per year or one pair every two years, which can affect hearing aid costs.

 

Comparing Medicare Advantage Plans

Comparing Medicare Advantage plans is a key step. The range of plans includes:

 

  • HMO (Health Maintenance Organization)
  • PPO (Preferred Provider Organization)
  • MSA (Medicare Savings Account)
  • PFFS (Private Fee-for-Service)

 

Some of these plans may cover hearing exams and other hearing-related services provided by an other health care provider.

The scope of coverage and the aspects of cost-sharing can diverge significantly across plans, including those designed for individuals with moderate hearing loss.

Medicare Supplement (Medigap) and Hearing Aids

Medicare Supplement, also known as Medigap, is another Medicare aspect to contemplate. These are supplementary insurance plans acquired from private insurers, designed to cover out-of-pocket costs for services included in Original Medicare. Medigap plans, like Original Medicare, also do not cover hearing aids.

 

What insurance covers hearing aids for seniors

 

 

The out-of-pocket costs for hearing aids through Medigap may differ, but generally, it hovers around $2,300 per hearing aid. However, research findings also indicate an average out-of-pocket expense of $2,500.

 

Medicaid and Hearing Aid Coverage

Despite Medicare’s limited hearing aid coverage, Medicaid could offer an alternative solution. The coverage of hearing aids through Medicaid, however, is contingent on the state of residence and the individual’s age.

Depending on where they live, adults may have access to coverage for hearing aids and other hearing health services. Availability of coverage may vary by location. To determine eligibility for hearing aid coverage through Medicaid or to initiate the application process, individuals can visit medicaid.gov.

Medicaid provides hearing health services such as assessments, evaluations, and access to hearing aids and accessories for individuals under 21 with hearing impairments. These services are designed to support their hearing needs and answer the question: does medicaid cover hearing aids?

However, it’s important to note that in certain states, the coverage does not include hearing aid batteries.

Veterans Affairs and Hearing Aid Benefits

Veterans have an additional option for hearing aid benefits to explore. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) offers a range of hearing aids to qualified veterans, potentially including free hearing aids for individuals with service-connected hearing loss.

 

Medicare hearing aid bill

 

 

Veterans can apply for these benefits by enrolling online, contacting 1-877-222-VETS, or visiting a local VA facility or regional office. The VA offers a range of hearing aids which may include options from manufacturers such as Oticon.

 

Cost of Hearing Aids Without Insurance

Understanding the complete picture is valuable, even though the insurance landscape offers some relief. The cost of hearing aids without insurance can reach up to $3,000 per aid, with the average price for a pair ranging from $2,000 to $4,000.

The typical out-of-pocket expense for hearing aids amounts to $2,500. Factors that contribute to cost include the model and features of the hearing aids, with some premium hearing aids costing between $4,000 and $6,000.

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Applying for Medicare Plans with Hearing Aid Coverage

For those considering a Medicare Advantage plan with hearing aid benefits, the first step is to enroll in Parts A and B. Once enrolled, you can initiate the application for Medicare coverage by accessing their official website and completing the online form provided.

To compare various Medicare coverage options, including plans that offer benefits for hearing aids, you can use the Medicare Plan Finder. This online tool can help you find the best plan that meets your needs.

Beyond these online resources, insurance agents can be instrumental in the Medicare Advantage plan enrollment process. They can assist in:

 

  • discussing available options
  • evaluating coverage
  • providing updates on Medicare
  • helping individuals save time and resources.

Alternative Options for Paying for Hearing Aids

Insurance coverage can certainly help alleviate the financial burden, but it’s not the sole way to manage the cost of hearing aids.

 

Does medicaid cover hearing aids

 

 

One alternative is to use HSA/FSA pre-tax income to cover hearing aid expenses. This can be done by either purchasing the devices out of pocket and then seeking reimbursement from the HSA/FSA account after submitting a claim and receipt, or by using a debit card provided by some accounts for direct payment of hearing aid expenses using the pre-tax funds.

Another alternative is considering wholesale retailers for fitting hearing aids. Thanks to their advantage of buying power, they can offer hearing aids at reduced prices compared to audiology offices.

Lastly, unbundling audiology services can also lead to a notable reduction in the total expenses associated with hearing aids. This refers to the practice of exclusively paying for the hearing aid device, excluding any supplementary charges for services like fittings, follow-up adjustments, and routine check-ups.

Future Changes to Medicare Hearing Aid Coverage

Even though the current hearing aid coverage landscape appears complex, staying up-to-date on potential future changes is important. One such change is the H.R.5376 Build Back Better Act. Introduced in November 2021, this legislative proposal aims to broaden Medicare coverage to encompass hearing aids and hearing care.

The proposed adjustments outlined in the Build Back Better Act involve the expansion of Medicare to encompass hearing aids and hearing care services, with a specific emphasis on individuals experiencing moderately severe, severe, or profound hearing loss.

If these changes are implemented, those with moderately severe to profound hearing loss could potentially see an enhancement in their quality of life through the potential Medicare coverage changes.

Importance of Addressing Hearing Loss

Addressing hearing loss is of utmost importance. It is of paramount importance for overall health and well-being, thus it is essential to seek assistance from hearing healthcare professionals.

 

Does medicare cover hearing test

 

 

Neglecting to address hearing loss is connected to health risks including:

 

  • Difficulties with walking
  • Falls
  • Dementia
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Social isolation
  • Diminished quality of life
  • Impaired memory
  • Heightened risk to personal safety

 

Additionally, untreated hearing loss can lead to:

 

  • Faster brain atrophy
  • Increased chances of social isolation
  • Depression
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Negative impact on personal and professional life

 

It is crucial to prioritize early diagnosis and treatment to address these mental health implications.

Summary

As we’ve journeyed through the complex landscape of Medicare and hearing aid coverage, it’s clear that navigating this path requires careful research and consideration. While Original Medicare may not cover hearing aids, there are options available through Medicare Advantage plans, Medicaid, and the VA for veterans.

Understanding the importance of addressing hearing loss is essential. With the potential future changes to Medicare hearing aid coverage, it’s important to stay informed. By doing so, you can ensure that you’re making the best decisions for your hearing health, and ultimately, your quality of life.

Frequently Asked Questions

 

 

Are hearing aids covered by Medicare in 2024?

No, Medicare does not cover the cost of hearing aids, and this is not expected to change in 2024. However, Medicare may cover the cost of diagnostic hearing tests and certain related services such as fitting and adjustment of hearing aids.

 

Do AARP members get discounts on hearing aids?

Yes, AARP members can save up to 20% on hearing aids and 15% on accessories, along with receiving a no-cost hearing test and personalized support through a large nationwide network of hearing providers. The offer is available through UnitedHealthcare Hearing SolutionsTM.

 

Does Medicare Advantage (Part C) provide coverage for hearing aids?

Yes, some Medicare Advantage plans do provide coverage for hearing exams and hearing aids. Check your plan for specific details.

 

Is hearing aid coverage available through Medicaid?

Medicaid’s coverage for hearing aids varies based on your state of residence and age. It’s not a universal benefit.

 

What hearing aid benefits are offered to veterans by the VA?

Veterans may be eligible for free hearing aids through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs if they have service-connected hearing loss.

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 ZRN Health & Financial Services, LLC, a Texas limited liability company

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Russell Noga
( Medicare Expert )

Russell Noga is the CEO of ZRN Health & Financial Services, and head content editor of several Medicare insurance online publications. He has over 15 years of experience as a licensed Medicare insurance broker helping Medicare beneficiaries learn about Medicare, Medicare Advantage Plans, Medigap insurance, and Medicare Part D prescription drug plans.