One of the biggest questions beneficiaries ask when enrolling in Medicare is if their coverage includes the cost of hearing aids. If you are a Medicare beneficiary or will be soon, this question may be on your mind. Below, we provide the information you need about Medicare coverage for hearing aids and how to pay for hearing aids in 2022.
As we age, many of us face hearing loss and the need for hearing aids increases. Most hearing loss is irreversible, but it is also treatable, thanks to hearing aids. Hearing aids can help you follow conversations and socialize as you normally would. Hearing aid use also lowers the risk of developing dementia later in life.
Why Doesn’t Medicare Cover Hearing Aids in 2022?
Unfortunately, Original Medicare (Medicare Part A and Part B) does not deem hearing aids medically necessary. Original Medicare does not provide coverage for hearing aids or hearing aid fittings. Thus, beneficiaries are responsible for 100% of these costs with Original Medicare.
In some cases, Medicare may cover hearing exams if your practitioner orders them in conjunction with another medical issue. For example, if your provider requests a diagnostic hearing and balance exams because you have a history of falling regularly, Medicare Part B medical coverage will provide coverage.
However, if you discover a hearing problem, Medicare will not pay for hearing aids. If you have Medicare and want to receive coverage for hearing aids, you must seek an additional policy.
Does Medicare Advantage Cover Hearing Aids in 2022?
Medicare Advantage plans often include hearing benefits as an additional perk. However, not all plans offer this benefit, and the coverage varies per plan.
Before signing up for a Medicare Advantage plan, you must be sure the network includes your preferred providers and the dental coverage you require. Also, check to ensure that you have access to a local and reputable audiologist within your plan network for your hearing health needs.
When you enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan, you should budget for out-of-pocket costs such as copayments, coinsurance, and the plan’s deductible. When you purchase hearing aids, you want to keep the plan’s maximum hearing benefit in mind.
Do Medicare Supplement Plans Cover Hearing Aids in 2022?
Medicare Supplement plans work as secondary coverage to Original Medicare. Also known as Medigap, these policies only cover the balance of what Medicare covers. Because Medicare does not cover hearing aids, Medicare Supplement plans do not cover them either.
You can, however, enroll in a separate insurance policy that includes hearing services and hearing aids. Often, hearing coverage comes bundled with vision and dental coverage. Hence, Medicare beneficiaries receive coverage for the most significant gaps in Original Medicare from such ancillary policies. Policy coverage limits vary depending on the carrier.
Changes in Hearing Aid Coverage With Medicare
In recent years, the high cost of hearing aids has attracted the attention of Congress. Legislation is in the works to make hearing aids more affordable for Medicare beneficiaries. However, nothing has yet passed to lower the cost of hearing aids for those on Medicare.
According to congress.gov, in early 2021, lawmakers introduced the Medicare Hearing Aid Coverage Act of 2021 in the House of Representatives. The bill would allow Medicare to cover hearing aids for beneficiaries with moderate to severe hearing loss.
If the bill passes, Medicare will pay for one pair of hearing aids every five years for each beneficiary. However, over-the-counter hearing aids would not receive coverage. Additionally, a qualified audiologist or physician would also need to deem the hearing aids necessary for the patient.
It is difficult to say if and exactly when those on Medicare can take advantage of expanded hearing benefits in the future. The goal of the legislation is to make costly elements of healthcare more affordable for seniors and disabled individuals.
Over-the-Counter Hearing Aids
To lower the cost of hearing aids for those on Medicare, Congress passed legislation in 2017 instructing the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to loosen the barriers to purchasing hearing aids over the counter. Since then, the FDA has been working to approve the sale of over-the-counter hearing aids. Currently, this legislation is still awaiting passage by the FDA.
Once approved, people with mild to moderate hearing loss will be able to purchase self-fitted hearing aids. Currently, you must always visit your audiologist for a hearing aid fitting.
Medicare Coverage for Cochlear Implants
When a doctor deems it medically necessary, and the beneficiary has met specific criteria, Medicare Part B and Medicare Advantage Plans will cover cochlear implants. Since Medigap pays after Original Medicare, those who have a Medicare Supplement plan will likely spend the least out-of-pocket for medically necessary cochlear implants.
Talk to your doctor about the cost of cochlear implants with your policy. Further, discuss the specific rules or criteria that may apply.
FAQs About Medicare Coverage for Hearing Aids
How to Get Help Paying for Hearing Aids with Medicare
Depending on your situation and where you live, federal, state, or local programs may help you pay for an audiologist visit and hearing aids. If you qualify, Medicaid pays for hearing aids in some states.
However, if your income is too high to qualify for Medicaid, you may be able to get assistance through your county Social Services department.
Another option for hearing aid coverage when you are on Medicare is to purchase an ancillary policy alongside your Original Medicare coverage – with or without Medigap. You may also be interested in a Medicare Advantage plan if you are under 65 and need hearing aids. To explore policies, call the number above or fill out our online rate form to get started!
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- Does Medicare Cover Hearing Aids in 2022, Aging In Place. Accessed February 2022.
- Hearing & Balance Exams, Medicare. Accessed February 2022.
- Hearing Aids, U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Accessed February 2022.
- Covered Services Hearing Aids, TRICARE. Accessed February 2022.