Hearing Aid Coverage for Medicare Recipients
What Medicare coverage exists for hearing aids?
Unfortunately, Original Medicare Part A & Part B does not cover expenses associated with hearing care and hearing aids. Even if you have a Medicare Supplement Insurance plan, the costs for hearing devices are not covered, as supplement plans only help pay for Medicare-approved expenses.
The good news is that Medicare does have options to help offset expenses associated with hearing aids and hearing care. Review the options to see which one is the best fit for your circumstances and budget.
Medicare Advantage (MA) is the government-approved alternative to Original Medicare and is sometimes referred to as Medicare Part C. Many MA plans, which are sold through private insurance companies, offer hearing aid coverage for certain devices purchased through approved vendors. In fact, many of these plans offer a $0/month premium and include coverage for hearing aids. If you’re currently covered by Original Medicare Parts A & B, you can switch to Medicare Advantage during certain enrollment periods, but if you also have a supplement plan, you’ll have to give that up as you can’t have both a Medicare Advantage plan and a Medicare Supplement Insurance plan at the same time.
If you’re on Medicaid, you may be covered for hearing aids depending on your coverage plan and where you live. Medicaid is funded through the federal government and also by individual state governments, so each state’s benefits vary. Check the Medicaid site to see whether your state has coverage for hearing aids.
Over-the-Counter Hearing Aids
In August 2017, the President signed the Over the Counter (OTC) Hearing Aid Act, also known as the Medicare Hearing Aid Coverage Act of 2017. The act improves access to hearing aids for seniors with mild hearing loss by allowing certain types of hearing aids to be sold over the counter without a prescription. Keep in mind, these hearing aids are designed for people with mild to moderate hearing loss and they are not meant for individuals with significant hearing loss.
The Cost of Hearing with Medicare
In general, Part B and Medigap Supplement Insurance do not pay for hearing aids, routine hearing exams or fittings for hearing aids. Medicare Part B and a Medigap Supplement plan, however, do cover diagnostic hearing tests that your doctor orders for a medical need such as a recent hearing loss due to illness or injury. If your doctor orders a diagnostic hearing test, then you would pay 20% of the amount approved by Medicare plus the Medicare Part B deductible. In this case, a Medigap Supplement plan will pay for the 20% coinsurance on the diagnostic hearing test.
IMPORTANT: If hearing aids are warranted, you are still responsible for paying 100% of this cost. Be sure to check with the provider before your appointment to determine coverage.
Hearing Aids & Health
Your hearing health becomes increasingly important and can become more fragile with age. Individuals with moderate to severe hearing loss are up to five times as likely to develop dementia and for every 10-decibel increase in loss, the chances go up 20 percent.**
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