Medicare Hearing Aid Coverage Act Of 2017
In the past few years, legislation has been introduced in Congress to expand Medicare coverage to hearing aids. This includes the Medicare Hearing Aid Coverage Act of 2017 and the Seniors Have Eyes, Ears, and Teeth Act. The latter would also provide Medicare beneficiaries with coverage for vision and dental care.
In late 2019, a pair of lawmakers introduced the Medicare Hearing Act of 2019 in the House of Representatives. The bill would allow Medicare to cover hearing aids for people with severe to profound hearing loss.
Medicare would pay for one pair of hearing aids every five years, but it wouldnt pay for over-the-counter hearing aids. The hearing aids would also need to be deemed necessary by a qualified audiologist or physician.
Its difficult to say if and exactly when in the future beneficiaries will be able to take advantage of expanded benefits for hearing. The goal of the legislations listed above is to make costly elements of healthcare more affordable for seniors and disabled individuals. Well keep this page up-to-date with the latest information about the status of these legislations.
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.
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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Why Doesnt Original Medicare Pay For Hearing Aids
Hearing aids aren’t covered by Medicare Parts A or B because when Medicare was established in 1965, hearing aids were specifically excluded from benefits via Section 1862 of Title XVIII of the Social Security Act.
However, when the law was written, hearing aid technology was still in development, and the first full digital wearable hearing aid wasn’t available until the 1980s.
Many more people wear hearing aids now than in previous decades, and since 1980, hearing aid sales have increased about sevenfold.
Today, one-third of adults over age 65 have hearing loss. However, Medicare legislation hasn’t caught up to consumer medical needs.
How Much Do Hearing Aids Typically Cost
According to the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, about 30 million people in the United States live with hearing loss. However, an estimated 6786% of individuals aged 50 years and older who could benefit from hearing aids do not use them.
Hearing aids may improve the quality of life for people who have different forms of hearing loss.
The cost of hearing aids varies. According to a 2015 report by the Presidents Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, the average cost of one hearing aid is about $2,400. However, some people may need two hearing aids, which would double this figure.
The high cost of hearing aids may create obstacles for some individuals to treat their hearing loss. However, these devices can considerably improve the quality of life for those with hearing conditions.
There are many early symptoms of hearing loss. A person might benefit from a hearing aid if they:
Hearing aids are an adaptation for deaf people and those with partial hearing loss, and they can make everyday life easier to manage. However, they are not a cure, as they do not address the underlying biological causes.
However, sensorineural hearing loss is treatable with hearing aids. According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, SNHL involves damage to the inner ear and is the most common form of permanent hearing loss.
The specialist will perform additional hearing checks to determine the type and extent of any hearing problems.
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Medicare Part B: Medical Insurance
Medicare Part B covers two types of services: medically necessary and preventative services. Preventative services include early detection of an illness. Most of these services are provided at no cost for people with Part B coverage.
- Ambulance services
- Inpatient, outpatient and partial hospitalization for mental illness
- Seeing a second doctor before surgery
- Some outpatient prescription drugs
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.
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Where Can You Get Help To Pay For Hearing Aids
There are a variety of options when it comes to getting help paying for hearing aids. If youre a veteran and you qualify for VA health benefits, your hearing tests and hearing aids may be fully covered.10
Hearing aids can also be paid for with money in a Health Savings Account or Flexible Spending Account, if you have one, while people with Medicaid may be able to qualify to get a hearing aid through their state Medicaid benefit.
Many civic and nonprofit organizations can help seniors find help to cover the cost. For example, Sertoma connects people who need hearing assistance with help. The organization has a thorough listing of national and state charitable programs and also runs a hearing aid recycling program through its 420 clubs.
Hear Now, sponsored by the Starkey Hearing Foundation, provides hearing aids to low-income individuals and some local Lions Clubs run projects that give affordable hearing aids to people in need. Reach out to your local Lions Club chapter to learn more.
Another option is to purchase a hearing aid at a warehouse club. Respondents to a Consumer Reports survey found that CR members spent around $1,926 for a pair of hearing aids at wholesale clubs versus $4,107 at name-brand hearing aid stores, $3,909 at audiology offices and $3,517 at hospitals and clinics.11 The survey also found that many survey respondents who asked for a discount got one. Yet, some patients still prefer the service they receive at a professional audiology clinic.
Georgia Lions Lighthouse Foundation
Funds are made available as financial assistance for hearing aids. Funds are provided in a hearing aid package that allows patients to receive ital aid, an ear mold, and 4 appointments to a Lighthouse Hearing Providers office free of charge.
Eligibility: Residents of Georgia are only able to apply, with low income status as a major requirement. Patients also require a recommendation or referral from their audiologist or hearing aid dispenser.
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Which Plans Would Be Best To Cover All The Costs Of Hearing Aids
Along with Medicare Part C, Medicare Part B may cover diagnostic hearing exams. This is as long as your doctor or other healthcare provider orders your hearing exam. But here are a few things you should know:
- Medicare Part C is a Medicare Advantage plan. Common Advantage plan types are PPOs or HMOs . Medicare Part C plans are provided by health insurance companies that have been approved by Medicare.
Original Medicare will pay a fixed amount each month to insurance companies that offer Medicare Advantage Plans. These plans must adhere to rules set by Medicare.
Its always best if you compare Medicare Advantage plans because they charge different out-of-pocket costs. They also have different rules for how you can get services, and these rules can change each year.
- Medicare Part B This part of Medicare covers services or supplies necessary for the diagnosis or treatment of a medical condition that complies with accepted medical practice standards.
Medicare Part B also covers preventive healthcare services . You won’t need to pay for your hearing exam as long as you get these services from a healthcare provider who accepts Medicare.
Some people automatically get Medicare Part B . However, its important to note that you might need to sign up for Part B.
You will need to pay this amount every time you pay for your premiums. This is so for as long as you are covered by Medicare Part B. Plus, the penalty amount will increase the longer you go without Medicare Part B.
Democrats Plan To Expand Medicare Hearing Benefits What Can Consumers Expect
By Rachana PradhanNovember 5, 2021
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Expanding Medicare Coverage To Pay For Hearing Aids Would Improve The Quality Of Life For Millions Of Older Americans Says Nicholas Reed Of The Cochlear Center For Hearing And Public Health
About half of all Americans older than 60 and two-thirds older than 70 have some degree of hearing loss, according to Johns Hopkins University researchers. Many older people cannot afford the prohibitive price of hearing aids, which can cost thousands of dollars, or are reluctant even to admit they have a hearing problem.
Image caption: Nicholas Reed
Medicare has never covered the cost of hearing aidsan omission that has long presented a barrier to older people who would gain from access to these life-altering devices. But that could soon change. The $1.75 trillion social spending bill currently under consideration by Congress provides a Medicare hearing benefit for the first time in the history of the 56-year-old health insurance program for those 65 and older. This proposed expansion follows the Food and Drug Administration’s recent release of new regulations allowing the sale of over-the-counter hearing aids. Together, these two major policy changes would be the biggest advances to hearing care in decades.
To understand the implications for older Americans with hearing loss, the Hub spoke with Nicholas Reed, a clinical audiologist and assistant professor in the department of epidemiology and core faculty at the Cochlear Center for Hearing and Public Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
Does Medigap Cover Hearing Aids
While Medigap offers additional coverage beyond Original Medicare, Medigap usually does not cover hearing aids. If you have Medigap Plan C or F, it will cover 100% of your Medicare Part B deductible and will pay 100% of the hearing diagnostic tests coinsurance. This means that you would not pay anything for the diagnostic test.
The exceptions that we can find are in the state of California and Nevada. Anthem Blue Cross now offers a Medigap Plan Innovative F that covers $750 towards hearing aids each year. To learn more about this plan visit Innovative Plan F. Blue Shield of California also brings its Blue Shield Plan F Extra and Healthnet joins with its Innovative F. You can compare all three of them here.
If you turned 65 after 2020 or if you are certain Plan G is a better deal for you, in California you can also find Medigap Innovative G and Medigap G Extra. Both of these plans cover hearing aids and vision.
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Does United Healthcare Medicare Cover Hearing Aids
Yes, several United Healthcare plans cover hearing aids. They have included hearing health care and hearing aids in their plans. If you choose a plan like the ASO plan, you will find out that they have beneficial plans for people with hearing losses. United Healthcare has partnered with Health innovations and Epic Hearing Healthcare. These are some of the leading hearing health providers. Together they offer hearing aids with reduced prices of up to 80% compared to the market range.
How To Pay For Hearing Aids
According to an 80+ year Harvard University study, the chief predictor of health and longevity is strong human relationships. When you cant hear well, you miss out on the conversation. Over time, you may avoid talking with others due to embarrassment. Hearing aids are essential to maintaining healthy interactions with family and friends and maintaining an active lifestyle. With recent technological improvements, hearing aids are almost invisible.
If youve been diagnosed with hearing loss and require hearing aids to improve your hearing, you may be wondering about the cost and if financial assistance is available. Below, weve listed some ways you can pay for a hearing aid.
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Does Medicare Pay For Hearing Aids
Original Medicare does not pay for hearing aids typically, but it may cover hearing exams. Some Medicare Advantage plans may cover hearing aids, however. In fact, 88% of Medicare Advantage plans cover hearing aids in 2021.
- Medicare consists of different parts. Original Medicare Part A is hospital insurance and does not cover hearing aids or provide coverage for hearing exams.
- The medical insurance part of Original Medicare, Part B, may cover some hearing health expenses for beneficiaries, depending on their circumstances.
Many Medicare beneficiaries choose to receive their Part A and B benefits through a bundled Medicare Part C plan, often called a Medicare Advantage plan. These plans must offer at least the same level of coverage as Original Medicare, and they typically cover additional benefits.
Part C plans must at least match Medicare Part B hearing care coverage, and many plans also cover benefits such as prescription drugs, eye exams and glasses, dental care and hearing aids.
It’s important to note that not all Medicare Advantage plans are available in all areas, and there may not be plans available where you live that cover hearing aids.
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:
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Does Insurance Cover Hearing Aids Information On Specific Plans:
Most insurance companies dont cover the cost of hearing aids. But some policies cover it. According to the care act, insurers must cover audiological exams costs because the law doesnt require providers to cater for hearing devices costs. You can check with your insurance if they have a plan covering hearing aids.
How To Qualify For Va Healthcare
To get hearing aids from the VA, you’ll need to apply for healthcare coverage through the Veterans Health Administration . This arm of the VA addresses current healthcare needs it does not establish service connection for any injuries or disabilities you may have incurred during your service. You can apply online or over the phone. You may also be able to establish eligibility at a local VA Medical Center or Community-Based Outpatient Clinic . You’ll need your DD-214 and health insurance cards. The VA will also do a means test, so having a few years of tax returns handy can speed up the process.
Once you are deemed eligible for general VA healthcare, you are automatically eligible for audiology care, including hearing evaluations, hearing aids, assistive hearing technologies, and even cochlear implants if you need them. The VHA also provides comprehensive evaluation and treatment for tinnitus.
Oticon Rechargeable Base Station
If your income is above a certain level, you may be required to pay about $100 in copayments for the evaluation and fitting, but the cost of the devices themselves are fully covered if you are eligible. Batteries, consumable supplies like wax guards, and follow-up care are also provided. If you are eligible but already bought hearing aids elsewhere, you can register them with the VA and then get these supplies at no cost.
One of Phonaks BTE hearing aid styles
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Are Hearing Aids Covered By My Plan
Who is this for?
If youre shopping for a Medicare plan or need to find out if your current plan covers hearing aids and fitting exams, this information is for you.
Whether your hearing aids and fitting exams are covered depends on what kind of Medicare plan you have.
- Original Medicare is run by the U.S. government. It doesn’t cover hearing aids or fitting exams. You’ll pay for them out of your own pocket with Original Medicare.
- Private health insurance companies offer Medicare Advantage plans that include everything Original Medicare offers, plus extra benefits. They may include hearing aids and fitting exams, depending on what type of Medicare Advantage plan you have.
Dorothy Ames Trust Fund
Gives small grants to individuals to purchase hearing aids as well as other assistive devices. Due to limited funding, a portion of the cost of cochlear implants can be redeemed through the grant system.
Eligibility: Parents will be required to send documentation including a copy of the audiologist report, a statement of need, an estimate of costs for equipment or services requested, and the most recent signed tax return.
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