If you’re a Medicare beneficiary or if you’ll be enrolling soon, you might be wondering if Medicare covers hearing aids. Below, we provide the information you need to know about Medicare coverage for hearing aids and how to pay for hearing aids in 2021.
As we age, many of us face hearing loss. Most hearing loss is irreversible, but it’s also treatable, thanks to hearing aids. Wearing hearing aids can help you follow conversations, socialize, and enjoy movies. Hearing aids also lower the risk of developing dementia later in life.
Are Hearing Aids Covered by Medicare?
Medicare doesn’t provide coverage for hearing aids, hearing exams, or exams where the patient is fitted for hearing aids. This means that the beneficiary is responsible for 100% of these costs. If your provider orders diagnostic hearing and balance exams, they’ll be covered by Part B. When a hearing problem is discovered, Medicare won’t pay for hearing aids, hearing exams, or exams for hearing aid fittings.
When Congress established Medicare in 1965, it excluded hearing aids from coverage, noting that they were “routinely needed and low in cost.”
Further, Medigap plans cover the 20% that Original Medicare leaves uncovered. Because Medicare doesn’t cover hearing aids and related exams, a Medigap plan also won’t help cover them.
However, Medicare Advantage plans often include hearing plans as part of their benefits.
Medicare Advantage Hearing Aid Coverage in 2021
Medicare Advantage plans often include dental, vision, and hearing benefits. Before signing up for a Medicare Advantage plan, make sure the network includes your preferred providers as well as the suite of hearing benefits you need, as some do cover hearing aids. Also, check to ensure that you’ll have access to a local and reputable audiologist within your plan network for your hearing health needs.
Do Medicare Supplement Plans Cover Hearing Aids?
Medicare Supplement plans work together with Medicare. They cover the same healthcare services that Medicare does. Since Medicare doesn’t cover hearing aids, Medicare Supplement plans don’t cover them either.
You can, however, buy a separate insurance policy that includes hearing services and hearing aids. Hearing insurance may be sold together with vision and dental coverage. The specifics of these policies will vary depending on the carrier of the policy you choose.
Medicare Hearing Aid Coverage in 2021
The high cost of hearing aids has attracted the attention of Congress. Changes are in the works to possibly make hearing aids more affordable for everyone.
Over-the-Counter Hearing Aids
In 2017, Congress passed legislation instructing the Food and Drug Administration to ease barriers to the purchasing of hearing aids. Since then, the FDA has been working to approve the sale of over-the-counter hearing aids. Once approved, people with mild to moderate hearing loss will be able to purchase self-fitted hearing aids. Currently, it’s always necessary to visit your audiologist for a hearing aid fitting.
As of mid-2020, this legislation has not been realized. The latest push to pass the legislation came in the form of a letter from two legislators to the FDA in December 2019. We’re keeping our fingers on the pulse of the issue and will be updating this page with any major news or changes in the availability of OTC hearing aids.
Medicare Hearing Aid Coverage Act of 2017
In the past few years, legislation has been introduced in Congress to expand Medicare coverage to hearing aids. This includes the Medicare Hearing Aid Coverage Act of 2017 and the Seniors Have Eyes, Ears, and Teeth Act. The latter would also provide Medicare beneficiaries with coverage for vision and dental care.
In late 2019, a pair of lawmakers introduced the Medicare Hearing Act of 2019 in the House of Representatives. The bill would allow Medicare to cover hearing aids for people with severe to profound hearing loss.
Medicare would pay for one pair of hearing aids every five years, but it wouldn’t pay for over-the-counter hearing aids. The hearing aids would also need to be deemed necessary by a qualified audiologist or physician.
It’s difficult to say if and exactly when in the future beneficiaries will be able to take advantage of expanded benefits for hearing. The goal of the legislations listed above is to make costly elements of healthcare more affordable for seniors and disabled individuals. We’ll keep this page up-to-date with the latest information about the status of these legislations.
Hearing Aid Prices on Medicare
There’s 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 audiologist’s 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.
Medicare Coverage for Cochlear Implants
When deemed medically necessary, Part B of Medicare will cover cochlear implants. These can also be paid for by Medicare Advantage plans. Those who have a Medigap plan will likely pay the least amount 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.
How to Get Help Paying for Hearing Aids with Medicare
Depending on your situation and where you live, there may be federal, state, or local programs to help you pay for an audiologist visit and hearing aids.
Medicaid pays for hearing aids in some states. If your income is too high to qualify for Medicaid, you may be able to get assistance through your county Social Services department.
You may also find a clinic that offers hearing aid services on a sliding scale depending on income. If you have a Medicare Advantage plan, you may have some coverage for hearing aids.
Medicare isn't free, so we recommend having additional coverage for the equipment and services you need. We can help with all your Medicare insurance needs, including searching for policies that will cover hearing exams and hearing aids.
Give us a call at the number above or fill out our form to get started!