Why Doesnt Medicare Cover Hearing Aids
Original Medicare, and even many private insurance companies, elect not to cover hearing aids due to their cost. In Medicare’s case, federal law prevents Medicare from covering hearing aids. That could change in the future, though. A piece of introduced legislation, the Seniors Have Eyes, Ears, and Teeth Act5, would expand Medicare to cover hearing aids if passed.
Does Medicare Advantage Pay For Hearing Aids
Medicare Advantage could cover hearing aids!
If youre willing to switch from Original Medicare, you may be able to find a Medicare Advantage plan with hearing aid benefits.
Medicare Advantage is another way to receive Medicare benefits, but through private companies instead of the government. Medicare Advantage provides the same benefits as Part A and Part B, but many plans include additional benefits Original Medicare doesn’t provide, such as vision, dental, and even hearing.
MA Plans vary by location, and benefits included also vary from plan to plan. To see if theres a plan that includes hearing benefits in your area, you can search using the Medicare Plan Finder. Or, call the number below for help.
Getting Your Hearing Tested
Don’t wait to address your hearing health as the guidance is sorted out. Get tested by an audiologist, take an online screening test, or visit a hearing center that has licensed hearing health providers. Find a hearing aids guide at hearingloss.org.
Take advantage of hearing aid discounts. Costco offers its own brand of hearing aids and other hearing services. Drugstore chain CVS has opened 32 hearing centers in seven states, with plans to expand this year, a company spokesperson says. Single device costs range from about $400 to $2,500. Try a high-tech device that’s not a hearing aid. Hearing technology company Nuheara sells wireless earbuds that work with a smartphone app for about $300 a pair. Wearers can tune out background noise at restaurants, offices or outside and “control how they hear the world around them,’ says company co-founder David Cannington.
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Shopping For Hearing Aids
If your doctor confirms that you need hearing aids, he or she may recommend a specific device, possibly through a specific vendor. The amount you pay depends on what type of insurance you have.
You may want to do a thorough search for available options if youre paying out of pocket for the hearing aids. You can search online for hearing aids to find a wealth of products from many hearing-aid companies. Check around for a hearing-aid style that best fits your needs, and compare prices and reviews to ensure that you find a product that will serve you well.
If you have a Medicare Advantage plan or Medicaid program that covers all or part of the cost for a pair of hearing aids, you may be restricted to buy them through approved companies. Check with your health plan and follow their instructions, or you may not be covered for the cost of the hearing aids.
This article is for informational purposes only. It should never be used as a substitute for professional medical advice. You should always consult with your medical provider regarding diagnosis or treatment for a health condition, including decisions about the correct medication for your condition, as well as prior to undertaking any specific exercise or dietary routine.
To learn about Medicare plans you may be eligible for, you can:
Eyeglasses And Contact Lenses
Generally, Medicare doesn’t cover eyeglasses or contact lenses. However, following cataract surgery that implants an intraocular lens, Medicare Part B helps pay for corrective lenses .
Note: Medicare will only pay for contact lenses or eyeglasses provided by a supplier enrolled in Medicare, no matter who submits the claim .
All people with Part B are covered. Your costs in Original Medicare are:
- You pay 20% of the Medicare-approved amount for one pair of eyeglasses or one set of contact lenses after each cataract surgery with an intraocular lens.
- Medicare will only pay for contact lenses or eyeglasses from a supplier enrolled in Medicare, no matter who submits the claim .
- You pay any additional costs for upgraded frames.
- You pay 100% for non-covered services, including most eyeglasses or contact lenses. The Part B deductible applies.
Note: Some Medicare Advantage plans offer extra vision benefits. Be sure to contact the plan for more information.
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How Can I Find Medicare Plans That Cover Hearing Aids
If you want to shop for Medicare plans, you can use the Medicare Plan Compare site to get a sense of what plans are available in your area.When you do this, pay close attention to the Extra Benefits section. Here you will find the copays for the different hearing services.
As helpful as Medicare Plan Compare is as a first step, it does not include all the information you will need. What kinds of hearing aids are covered? What brands are covered? What are the plans limits on hearing services? You may then want to reach out to the plan directly or find an insurance broker in your area to find out more.
NOTE: Access to hearing aids could change in the future. Recent legislation, known as the Build Back Better Act, made its way to the House Committee on the Budget on September 27, 2021. It has provisions that would add hearing aids to your Part B benefits starting on October 1, 2023. Certain services performed by audiologists would also be covered. All of these services would be subject to the 20% Part B coinsurance. Depending on what happens with the Build Back Better Act, you may need to turn to a Medicare Advantage plan for coverage in the meantime.
What Does Hearing Aid Coverage Include
Coverage varies based on your exact plan and insurance provider.
Medicare Advantage plans can cover hearing tests to determine a persons need for a hearing aid, the cost of the hearing aids themselves and the fitting process, as well as maintenance and repairs, says Worstell.
Some plans may use a copayment or coinsurance structure to cover the cost of the hearing aids, he adds. Other plans may allocate an allowance that the plan member may spend on their hearing aids.
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Are Hearing Aids Covered By Medicare
No. Medicare is very clear about this on their website:
“Medicare doesn’t cover hearing aids or exams for fitting hearing aids. You pay 100% for hearing aids and exams. Some Medicare Advantage Plans offer extra benefits that Original Medicare doesnt cover – like vision, hearing, or dental. Contact the plan for more information.”
Legislation To Help With Hearing Aid Costs
Congress passed the Over-the-Counter Hearing Aid Act in August 2017, making hearing aids more accessible to patients with mild-to-moderate hearing loss. After the Food and Drug Administration composes updated regulations that assure the safety of these products, the OTC hearing aids will become more widely available for purchase without a doctor’s prescription. This legislation is a step in the right direction to help people who cannot afford to pay the high price of hearing aids, but for many people, the price will still be restrictive. The goal of the new law is to continue to reduce hearing aid prices in the future to make them accessible to more people.
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Do Medicare Plans Cover Hearing Aids
No, Medicare Supplement plans dont cover hearing aids.
Medicare Supplement plans are supplemental health insurance plans that can be purchased to help cover costs Original Medicare doesn’tsuch as copays, coinsurance, or deductibles. Medicare supplement plans don’t add new covered services or devices to Original Medicarethey only help pay for the benefits that Medicare already covers.
How To Buy A Hearing Aid
The cost for hearing aids ranges from hundreds to thousands of dollars. If you have health insurance that covers hearing aids, such as a Medicare Advantage plan, be sure to read your plan documents carefully, because you may only be covered if you buy your hearing aid from certain suppliers or through a certain process. If you dont have such coverage, you can buy hearing aids wherever you want.
Why Does Medicare Not Cover Hearing Aids
Medicare was established in 1965 and, at the time, it did not cover hearing aids because this technology had a much lower cost. The first in-ear hearing aids were developed in the 1950s and were not as technologically advanced or widely used. Since then, hearing aids have come a long way technologically, and as a result, become much more expensive. Hearing aids can cost up to $5,000 for a pair and this does not include the cost for fittings and exams with professional audiologists.
In 2017, the Over-the-Counter Hearing Aid Act passed, allowing individuals to purchase a hearing aid without an audiologist appointment. This significantly lowered the price of some hearing aids meant for mild to moderate hearing loss. While this act expanded access to hearing aids and lowered costs, it did not expand Medicare to cover the costs of hearing aids.
FYI: Check out my rundown of hearing aids for severe hearing loss to learn about the ideal aids for this type of loss.
Do Any Medicare Supplement Plans Cover Hearing Aids
Medicare Supplement Insurance plans, also called Medigap, do not provide coverage for hearing aids. In fact, these plans dont provide coverage for any health care services or items at all.
Instead, Medigap plans provide coverage for out-of-pocket costs associated with Original Medicare, such as Part A and Part B deductibles, coinsurance and copayments.
Learn more about Medicare Supplement Insurance plans.
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What Hearing Aid Services Are Covered By Medicare
If your doctor believes you have a medical condition requiring treatment that can be diagnosed with a balance test or diagnostic hearing exam, Part B may cover 80% of allowable charges for these tests . If you get these tests as an outpatient at the hospital, the hospital copayment may also apply.
Under Original Medicare, you usually pay 100% of the costs associated with routine hearing exams and hearing aids.
How Does Medicare Cover Hearing Aids
Most people find it challenging to hear clearly as they age, especially in a noisy environment. Unfortunately, Medicare has made it very clear on its website that it does not cover hearing aids under Part AMedicare Part A is hospital coverage for Medicare beneficiaries. It covers inpatient care in hospitals and skilled nursing facilities. It also covers limited home healthcare services and hospice care…. and Part BMedicare Part B is medical coverage for people with Original Medicare benefits. It covers doctor visits, preventative care, tests, durable medical equipment, and supplies. Medicare Part B pays 80 percent of most medically necessary healthcare… . It also does not cover routine hearing exams. Under Original Medicare, you will be paying for your hearing-related services completely out-of-pocket.Medicare.gov, Hearing aids, Accessed November 17, 2021
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What Medicare Plans Or Parts Cover Hearing Aids
Only Medicare Advantage plans provide coverage for the cost of hearing aids. These plans are legally required to provide all the same coverage as Original Medicare and are free to offer additional benefits, says Worstell. Hearing aid coverage is a common extra benefit in these plans, along with coverage for dental, vision and prescription drugs, he adds.
Medicare And Hearing Aids & Tests
Medicare provides enormous health care benefits for seniors, but it doesnt cover everything.
Heres a short list of the items and services not covered by Original Medicare:
- Long-term care
- Most dental care
- Eye exams related to prescribing glasses
- Hearing aids and exams for fitting them
- Routine foot care
Unfortunately, hearing aids are not covered under Original Medicare. In fact, since Congress established Medicare in 1965, hearing aids have been excluded. However, recent legislation has expanded ways to still find coverage.
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Do Medicare Advantage Plans Cover Hearing Aids
Part C Medicare is a private policy offered through Medicare that offers the same benefits as Part A and B, as well as potentially some additional coverage. These extra benefits may include dental and/or vision insurance, prescription drug coverage, and in some case hearing aids. To date, most Medicare Advantage Plans still do not offer hearing aid coverage.
Do You Need A Hearing Aid
The following are some signs of when to consider having your hearing tested, according to the Food & Drug Administration:
- You hear better out of one ear than the other.
- People say you are shouting when you talk.
- You often ask people to repeat themselves.
- You canât hear a dripping faucet or high-pitched musical notes.
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Cost Of Hearing Aids And How To Save
Hearing aids cost an average of $2,300 each. For both ears, thatâs $4,600 a pair.
Among the range of brands, Eargo tends to be a little less expensive, and Phonak hearing aids can be priced higher. Despite the sticker shock of spending thousands of dollars to manage hearing loss, savvy consumers have several ways to save money on hearing aids:
Medicare And Hearing Aid Costs
Probably the first question will be, “Does Medicare offer any coverage for hearing aids?”. The real battle will then begin. Like many seniors, you may be financially challenged, having little more than Social Security to cover your expenses. Must you avoid social interaction or just deal with the frustration of not being able to hear normal conversations?
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Additional Resources For Help With Hearing Aids
If you have Medicare and need help paying for a hearing aid, there are some programs that might be able to offer some assistance.
- Foundation for Sight and Sound provides hearing aids to individuals with limited financial resources. Visit their website for more information about the program.
- If youre a veteran, you may be eligible for financial help for your hearing aids through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
- Some local organizations such as the Lions Club International may also be able to help people with hearing problems. Reach out to your local branch to find out if you qualify for assistance.
- Medicaid may cover hearing aids in the following states:
- AK, CA, CT, D.C., FL, GA, HI, IN, KS, KY, ME, MD, MA, MT, NE, NH, NJ, NM, ND, OH, OR, RI, SD, TX, VT, WI, WY
Which Plans Would Be Best To Cover The Costs Of Hearing Aids
Some of the best plans available to cover hearing aid costs are through Humana. Recently Humana added many benefits to its Medicare Advantage plans. One of these benefits is hearing benefits, including the cost of hearing aids.
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Can I Pay For Hearing Aids With An Fsa Or Hsa Account
Yes, contributions to most Flexible Spending Accounts and all Health Savings Accounts cover hearing aids and hearing aid batteries. An FSA enables you to set aside pre-tax dollars used to pay medical expenses not covered by your insurance plan, but if you dont use your account balance over the year, you forfeit the funds. An FSA is not an option if you are retired since employers offer these plans as a benefit.
An HSA works similar to a savings account allowing you to set aside money on a pre-tax basis to pay for medical expenses such as copays, deductibles, and coinsurance and your account balance rolls over year after year. You use an HSA along with a high-deductible health plan to lower your out-of-pocket costs. Healthcare.gov defines a high-deductible health plan as any health plan with a deductible of at least $1,350 for an individual or $2,700 for a family. HSA funds usually roll over to the next year.
For further information regarding hearing aids and FSAs and HSAs, see IRS Publication 502 for details on acceptable hearing aid or other medical expense you can pay for using either an FSA or HSA.
What Are Hearing Aids
Hearing aids are small electronic devices that function similar to a microphone, transferring and amplifying sound waves received by the device. A hearing aid is inserted into your ear to amplify the sounds around you if you have difficulty hearing. Hearing aids may be prescribed during a hearing test if the doctor determines that your hearing needs correction.mayoclinic.org, Hearing aids, Accessed November 11, 2021
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Which Medicare Plans Or Parts Cover Hearing Aids
As noted above, Part A and Part B do not cover routine hearing tests or hearing aids, but some Medicare Advantage plans do offer the benefit.
If this coverage is something youre interested in, youll need to shop for a Medicare Advantage plan that offers the benefit. The good news is that shouldnt be too hard to find one: In 2021, 88% of Medicare Advantage plans offered coverage for hearing aids.
If you want to compare Medicare Advantage plans or enroll in one consider shopping around during the annual Medicare open enrollment period, which starts October 15 and continues through December 7.
NOTE: Do not confuse Medigap with Medicare Advantage planss supplemental benefits. Although Medigap plans are referred to as Medicare supplement insurance, they do not include the supplemental benefits that Medicare Advantage plans offer. You may see a lot of marketing during Medicare open enrollment about both types of plans. A Medigap plan will not help you pay for hearing aids.
Call now to learn more about Medicare supplemental benefits with a licensed advisor.