It can be hard to admit, but hearing starts to decline as you get older. By age 65, one in three people has hearing loss, according to the Hearing Loss Association of America. If you are having trouble hearing, you may wonder: Does Medicare cover hearing aids?
Here’s what you need to know about Medicare, hearing services, and supplemental coverage to help you pay for hearing problems.
Does Medicare Cover Hearing Aids
Your medical insurance under Medicare Part B covers diagnostic hearing and balance exams if your health care provider orders them for medical reasons, such as to find out what’s causing a condition like vertigo. You’ll still be responsible for paying Medicare’s 20% coinsurance unless you have a Medicare supplement plan that covers these costs. If your testing is done at the hospital, you will pay a hospital copayment.
But that’s only if your doctor orders a hearing exam for medical reasons. Medicare doesn’t cover a routine hearing exam, hearing aids, or exams for fitting hearing aids.
This is a problem for many people because hearing aids cost an average of $2400 each, and often more. The high cost stops many seniors from getting treatment that could improve their quality of life. Loss of hearing can cause isolation, depression, memory problems and difficulty learning new things. Poor hearing can reduce your overall health and well-being.
Does Medigap Pay for Hearing Aids?
Medigap, also known as Medicare Supplement, is private insurance that supplements Original Medicare Parts A and B. There are 10 Medigap plans, each with a somewhat different set of benefits. None of these plans covers hearing aids, but a Medigap plan can help with the cost of a diagnostic hearing test that is covered under Part B.
- Your Medigap plan will pay the 20 percent coinsurance for a diagnostic exam
- In addition to this, Plans C and F will pay the Medicare Part B deductible – the amount you must pay out of pocket before Medicare will pay anything.
Does Medicare Advantage Pay for Hearing Aids?
Medicare Advantage, also known as Medicare Part C, is a privately-issued insurance policy. It provides the same benefits as Medicare Parts A and B, and sometimes other benefits as well. A Medicare Advantage plan may include benefits for prescription drug coverage, dental care, vision care, and hearing exams. Some Medicare Advantage plans also pay for hearing aids, but most do not.
How can I get more affordable hearing aids?
In August, 2017, President Trump signed the Over the Counter (OTC) Hearing Aid Act (also known as the Medicare Hearing Aid Coverage Act of 2017), which improves access to hearing aids for seniors by allowing certain types of hearing aids to be sold over-the-counter, without a prescription. These hearing aids are designed for people with mild to moderate hearing loss. Before the hearing aids can become widely available, the Food and Drug Administration must write new regulations to ensure the devices are safe.
The new law should be good news for the many people who suffer hearing loss but cannot afford prescription hearing aids. The sponsors of the legislation hope it will spark innovation and competition and lead to lower prices.
While you wait for lower-cost hearing aids to become available under the new law, there are a few ways to reduce your out of pocket costs for hearing-related services. If you enroll in a Medigap plan and your doctor orders diagnostic hearing tests, your Medigap policy will pay the 20 percent coinsurance that Part B doesn’t pay.
To get even more expansive coverage, you can add dental, vision and hearing plans to your Original Medicare and/or Medigap plan. These plans can cost as little as $31 a month and can cover routine hearing tests and sometimes hearing aids. Typically, you can get treatment at any hearing aid centers that accept Medicare. You can’t be turned down for coverage because of your age or pre-existing health conditions.
At MedicareFAQ, we know how important your hearing is. We will work with you to find a hearing plan that covers the hearing services you need most, as well as a comprehensive Medigap plan to pick up where Original Medicare leaves off. You can compare Medicare rates online here.