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The majority of major insurers who offer Medicare Advantage plans have at least one plan that covers hearing aids. These insurers include Humana, Aetna and Blue Cross Blue Shield. However, some seniors may not be eligible for those plans, and the plans may have a higher premium than those that dont offer hearing aid coverage.
Medicare Part B May Cover Diagnostic Hearing Exams
While Part B wont cover hearing aids, it will cover diagnostic hearing and balance exams if your doctor or other health care provider orders these tests to see if you need medical treatment for a recent injury or illness, such as vertigo or other balance problems.
If you do have an exam covered by Medicare, youll still have to pay the Part B deductible and 20 percent of the Medicare-approved amount for the doctor’s services. If you have testing done in a hospital outpatient setting, you will also be responsible to pay a hospital copayment.
If your doctor recommends you get other hearing-related services Medicare doesnt cover, you may have to pay some or all the costs. Before you do anything, be sure to ask why your doctor is recommending certain services and whether Medicare will pay for them.
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
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Do Medicare Advantage Plans Cover Hearing Aids
Some Medicare Advantage plans cover hearing exams and hearing aids. Medicare Advantage plans often offer benefits not typically included with Original Medicare , such as routine hearing exams and hearing aids. Since each Medicare Advantage plan is different, you should compare plans carefully to find one that fits all of your medical needs. You can see if any Medicare Advantage plans in your area cover hearing aids and exams by using our Medicare Advantage plan comparison tool.
If you have insurance that covers hearing exams, such as a Medicare Advantage plan or Medicaid, follow your plans instructions for getting an exam. If your doctor does not perform hearing exams, he or she may refer you to a specialist.
Nonprofits That Help With The Cost Of Hearing Aids
Sertoma is a service organization that provides a list of organizations, by state, which helps disadvantaged individuals with obtaining hearing aids.
Sertomas non-profit program, SHARP is funded by Sertoma civic clubs located nationwide. SHARP accepts hearing aid donations and recycles the devices to provide hearing aids to low-income individuals. A one-time fee is required.
The National Hearing Aid Project is a collaborative effort offered by the Hearing Charities of America . The National Hearing Aid Project addresses the need for hearing aids, for low-income people, nationwide.
Source: National Hearing Aid Project
The project combines several organizations across the U.S. to fulfill the need for hearing aids. HCOA works with the University of Kansas to refurbish and track all hearing aids used in the program. After you complete the application process and are accepted into the program, you will receive hearing aids. Follow-up evaluations, fittings, and services complete the process.
Hear Now is an application-based program sponsored by the Starkey Hearing Foundation. This program provides hearing assistance to Americans with limited income. Hear Now fits each accepted patient with new, digital hearing aids customized to their needs. Hear Now is made possible through the generous donation of time and services of audiologists and health professionals nationwide.
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Finding A Medicare Advantage Plan That Covers Hearing Aids
Seniors who need coverage for hearing care, including testing and hearing aids, should begin by contacting their Medicare Advantage provider to determine whether its covered under their existing plan. If not, their insurer can generally suggest a more suitable plan that offers the coverage they need. However, seniors who want to switch plans may need to wait until the general enrollment period to make the change. That occurs every year from October 15 to December 7.
If a senior is already working with an audiologist or other hearing care provider, its a good idea to ask the provider which Medicare Advantage plans are accepted at that clinic. Medicare Advantage plans generally only cover care at in-network providers, so selecting a plan that is already accepted can help guarantee that theres no need to find a new health care provider.
How To Enroll In Medicare Advantage With Hearing Coverage
Getting adequate hearing coverage through a Medicare Advantage plan may take some time and research. If you are looking for a plan with the coverage you need, you have several options for finding it. One option is to talk to a local insurance agent who can find a Medicare Advantage plan with all of the features you need free of charge. Another approach is to look through plan comparisons listed on your states healthcare exchange website, where plan features and prices are relatively easy to see side by side. You can also look through individual insurers websites to get comprehensive lists of features offered by that provider.
To qualify for a Medicare Advantage plan, you must be either a U.S. citizen or a permanent legal resident with at least five years residency in the country. In addition, you must either be 65 or over, or have been receiving SSDI for a diagnosed disability for at least 24 continuous months. To qualify for Original Medicare Part A with no monthly premium, you must also have at least 10 years, or 40 quarters, of payroll contributions to Social Security.
- You have recently returned from overseas, where you were during open enrollment
- You have just been released from a federal institution
- You have just lost coverage from another source through no fault of your own, such as when you or your spouse lose employer-provided insurance
- Your insurance company has gone bankrupt or closed the plan you were a part of
Eldercare Financial Assistance Locator
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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
Baby Boomers Destroyed Their Hearing Biotech Is Trying To Fix It
The Over-the-Counter Hearing Aid Act of 2017 may provide some help. Sponsored by Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Chuck Grassley , it allows individuals to buy certain types of hearing aids over the counter without prior approval from a health care provider. The Food and Drug Administration has until 2020 to propose new regulations for the law, and the devices likely wont be available to the public until 2021.
Will over-the-counter hearing aids actually help address the unmet need for these devices? That remains to be seen. It will depend on how much they cost and how good they are. They likely wont replace the prescription hearing aid market nor should they much like how drugstore reading glasses dont fully substitute for prescription lenses. Nevertheless, over-the-counter products serve an essential purpose: They provide immediate, low-cost relief to health problems that may not need more advanced treatment.
One concern with the over-the-counter approach is that some consumers may believe these hearing aids address their problems when they really should be seeking professional help.
Another approach that could make prescription hearing aids more accessible is through insurance coverage. The Seniors Have Eyes, Ears, and Teeth Act has been introduced in Congress for several years in an attempt to include hearing aids and, as the laws name suggests, vision and dental services, in Medicare coverage.
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.
Hearing Aids Do More Than Just Help Your Hear
Read more about the health benefits of hearing aids.
Another hearing benefit of the AARP Hearing Care Program ensures individuals will not become isolated due to their hearing loss. Research conducted by The National Council on Aging shows that people who struggle with hearing loss but do not receive treatment may feel isolated or depressed. According to the study, 30 percent of those with hearing loss who did not wear hearing aids felt isolated while only 22 percent of those with hearing aids had those feelings.
Social interaction is incredibly important for people’s health and well-being. Those who are older than 50 may be living alone, which could lead to injury or illness. The AARP Foundation understands the great importance of staying in contact with friends, family members and the community to live a healthy life. The organization commissions research that addresses social isolation and finds ways to prevent it.
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Hearing Aid Prices On Medicare
Theres no such thing as a Medicare discount for hearing aids. Hearing aids are costly, and you must be fitted for them by your audiologist. The average cost of a single digital hearing aid is $3,000 to $4,000. Some retailers offer hearing services. Their advertised prices are less than you might pay at an audiologists office. But even though these retailers, a pair of hearing aids can cost thousands of dollars.
This factor of cost is one reason only about one in four adults who could benefit from hearing aids has used them. Many people wait years before finally getting hearing aids. If you need help with the cost of your hearing aids, do an online search for assistance paying for hearing aids in your state.
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.
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.”
How Do Part C Medicare Advantage Plans Cover Hearing Aids And Hearing Care
Private insurance companies sell Medicare Advantage plans. Medicare Advantage plans often include coverage for hearing, vision, and dental care, plus coverage for prescription drugs. Some comprehensive Part C plans cover hearing aids and their maintenance costs.
If you are considering enrolling in a Medicare Advantage plan, it’s essential to review the policy’s cost and coverage, as this can vary considerably by individual policies. In 2021, the average premium for a Medicare Advantage plan that includes prescription drug coverage is roughly $34 per month.
Some popular Medicare Advantage plan companies include:
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Other Coverage And Financial Assistance For Hearing Care
Most employer-sponsored or marketplace insurance plans provide some routine hearing benefits but generally dont cover the cost of hearing aids for adults.
Insurance plans that do cover hearing aids may allot a specified amount of money that you can put toward the cost of hearing aids, such as $500 or $1,000. Youre typically responsible for paying any additional difference in the cost for your hearing aids.
Some insurance carriers may contract with a hearing aid company to offer discounts to plan members who purchase hearing aids from that particular company.
Many hearing aid companies offer financing plans so you do not have to pay for the full cost of your hearing aids at once. If you are still enrolled in a group or individual health insurance plan, contact your plan directly to inquire about any hearing aid coverage.
There are also a number of charitable organizations that provide new or used hearing aids at discounted prices for those who meet certain financial criteria. See our list of hearing resources at the bottom of this page for more information.
Does Medicaid And Medicare Cover Hearing Aids
Medicaid often provides coverage for a portion of the cost of hearing aids, but this coverage varies from state to state. Medicaid is required to pay for hearing screenings and other hearing-related tests for those who are 21 and younger. However, this coverage is no longer applicable for individuals who are over the age of 21.
Medicare does not cover the costs of hearing aids. However, if a PCP Referral is provided to the audiologist, Medicare will cover the cost of your hearing tests. Additionally, if you have a Medicare Advantage Plan, other options might be available to you.
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Scheduling Your Hearing Exam
Under Part B, you can expect to pay 100% of the cost for exams to get fitted for hearing aids and hearing aids. If you have the financial resources and are willing to pay for it, call your doctor or hearing loss specialist to schedule a hearing exam.
If you have a Medicare Advantage plan and hearing services are covered, then follow your health plans rules for scheduling hearing appointments. For example, dont call a hearing specialist directly if your Medicare Advantage plan requires you to go through a primary care doctor first for a referral. You might want to contact your Medicare Advantage or other health plan to see if it offers hearing exams and hearing aid discounts through a specific program.
If you belong to Medicaid, or any other program that may help cover hearing costs, then follow the programs instructions for accessing your hearing benefits or buying a hearing aid.
Typical Hearing Aid Benefits From Aussie Health Funds
If you have an extras policy that covers hearing aids, then you can claim part of the cost of your device back from your health fund. The size of your benefit will depending on your extras policiy.
- Mid-tier extras: Some mid-tier extras policies have a small benefit for hearing aids, generally around the $500 mark.
- Comprehensive extras: Comprehensive extras policies have a larger benefit, typically around $800.
- Top extras: Top extras policies generally offer the highest benefits for hearing aids, often ranging from $1,000 to $2,000.
3 things you should know
- Extras policies typically have a 12 or 36 month waiting period before you can claim on hearing aids, and a benefit is generally only available every 3 years.
- Hearing aids benefits generally can’t be claimed through HICAPS, so you’ll need to pay the full cost of your hearing aids, then claim the benefit later.
- Your health fund’s benefit will normally apply to a pair of hearing devices, one for each ear. If you only need a single device, ask your fund if you’ll get to the full benefit, or only half.
Health fund Extras policies and annual benefit limits* Waiting periods
- Super Extras. $1,600 per person
- Family Extras. $1,200 per person
- 12 months
- Advanced 80% Extras. $600 per person
- Classic Extras. $550 per person
- 12 months
- Top Extras. $800 per person
- 12 months
- Total Extras. $800 per person
- Classic Extras. $600 per person
- 12 months
- Top Extras. $1,500 per person
- Mid Extras. $1,200 per person
- 12 months
- 12 months
- 12 months
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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.