Does Medicare Cover Your Hearing Aids?
Find out how to get the high cost of hearing aids covered by Medicare. Choose a Medicare Advantage plan that's right for you.
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If you're one of the 48 million Americans struggling with hearing loss, you know it affects everything you do.
Unfortunately, a massive price tag is often associated with hearing aids. Read on to learn your options for Medicare coverage.
How Much Do Hearing Aids Cost?
The price of one hearing aid can range anywhere from $1,000 to $6,000. Most people will need one hearing aid for each ear, doubling the range of pricing from $2,000 to $12,000.
With such a hefty price tag, you may be wondering whether your Medicare plan will help cover the cost.
Does Medicare Cover Hearing Aids?
If you're over 65 years of age or if you're younger than 65 but receive disability payments from Social Security, you may be eligible for coverage under Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B, also known as Original Medicare.
Medicare Part A covers:
Inpatient hospital care
Skilled nursing facility care
Home health services
Medicare Part B covers:
Medically necessary doctor's care
Home health services
Mental health services
Chronic care management
Emergency Room services
Note: These are not exhaustive lists.
Medicare Parts A and B do not cover:
Routine physical exams
Hearing aids and exams for fitting them
Medicare Part B will cover hearings exams if ordered by your doctor to determine whether you have hearing loss and to what degree. These exams may help determine whether you might benefit from a hearing aid, but neither Medicare Part A or B will pay for routine hearing exams or other costs associated with hearing aids.
What Can I Do to Get My Hearing Aids Covered by Medicare?
There are options to explore that can help cover the cost of hearing aids and make it an affordable option for your hearing loss.
Medicare Advantage Plans
We have already discussed Medicare Parts A and B. There is a third type of coverage known as Medicare Part C, commonly known as Medicare Advantage plans.
A Medicare Advantage plan is an alternative way of getting your Medicare benefits. These are healthcare plans Medicare-approved private companies offer, and they take the place of Medicare A and B if you choose to enroll in one of them.
Medicare Advantage plans offer a variety of benefits not covered under Original Medicare. Vision, dental, wellness and hearing services are offered in many of these plans. Extra items such as adult daycare services, transportation to medical visits and over-the-counter medications also may be included. Medicare Part D, which covers prescription medication, is also usually incorporated into these plans.
In-Network Coverage with Medicare Advantage
Unlike Original Medicare, which is accepted almost everywhere, Medicare Advantage plans usually have a network of preferred providers. Like many employer health plans, they may not cover out-of-network services, or they may cover a smaller portion of out-of-network services. They may also have certain rules for referrals and other services, so be sure you understand what is required of you under the plan.
If you choose a Medicare Advantage plan in place of Original Medicare, you have the choice each year to keep your current plan, change to another Medicare Advantage plan or go back to Original Medicare.
What About Medicare Supplement Plans (Medigap)?
Medigap is a supplemental health plan standardized by Medicare but offered by a variety of private companies. These plans help you cover out-of-pocket costs when you have Medicare A and B.
While Medigap may offer services beyond what is provided by Medicare Parts A and B, these plans do not typically cover costs associated with hearing aids.
How to Find Medicare Coverage for Hearing Aids
1. Compare various Medicare Advantage plans by speaking to a licensed Medicare professional.
2. Examine each plan by looking at deductibles, monthly premiums, services covered (such as hearing aids), maximum out-of-pocket costs and other variables.
3. Find the plans that have the most services you're likely to use (and perhaps without the services you don't need).
4. Add up your yearly out-of-pocket costs for the services offered and determine which plans are within your budget.
5. Decide which plan is right for you by comparing costs and services.
Other Options for Covering the Cost of Hearing Aids
Here are a few other ideas that may offer help in paying for hearing aids:
If you are a veteran, hearing aids may be covered by Veteran's Affairs if you meet certain criteria. Once registered with the VA, make an appointment with an audiologist to determine your eligibility.
Check out nonprofit organizations that help disadvantaged senior citizens pay for the cost of hearing aids, such as Sertoma, the National Hearing Aid Project and HearNow.
You may choose to use your Flexible Spending Account (FSA) or Health Savings Account (HSA) to pay for hearing aids and batteries.
Many companies offer financing options to stretch payments over a prolonged period of time instead of paying the full price upfront.
Millions of people suffering from hearing loss continue to go without help because of the high cost of hearing aids. Don't let the cost be a deterrent for you. With the help of licensed Medicare expert, find a Medicare Advantage plan that helps minimize costs associated with these vital services.
Dr. Courtney Schmidt is a clinical consultant pharmacist and geriatric care expert. Since completing her Pharm.D. at the University of Florida., Dr. Schmidt has worked in multiple clinical settings and has served as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Central Florida.