Medicare Coverage of Hearing Aids
As we get older, our medical needs begin to change and we may need more medical equipment than we previously did. For some that comes in the form of hearing aids. Not being able to hear well can not only make social situations uncomfortable, but it can also be dangerous. Not being able to hear cars coming or other noises that are lurking can be harmful to your health.
Once you realize you need a hearing aid, your next step may be trying to figure out how you’re going to pay for it. If you have Medicare, you may assume that it will be automatically covered. But, many people are surprised to find out that’s not the case.
Does Medicare Cover Hearing Aids?
Original Medicare doesn’t cover hearing aids or exams for hearing aids. But, if you have Medicare B and your doctor orders a diagnostic hearing exam and says that you have a medical condition that requires treatment, you may be able to get up to 80% of the exams and tests covered. But, you will still have to pay the cost of the hearing aid.
Some Medicare Advantage Plans, specifically Medicare Part C, may cover hearing exams and hearing aids. Each individual plan is different. You need to look under what your plan covers to see if hearing aids are included. These types of supplemental plans are in place to pick up some of the costs of what Medicare does not cover, including vision and hearing products.
How Much do Hearing Aids Cost?
The cost of a hearing aid can range anywhere from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars. It depends on what type you choose and how many bells and whistles you want to go along with it.
Many hearing aid companies know that Medicare does not cover hearing aids and that many people don’t have the supplemental plans that may pay for a portion of it. That’s why they offer payment plans so that seniors can get the hearing aids they need and pay for them in increments.
Does Medicaid Cover Hearing Aids?
While Medicare generally does not cover hearing aids, Medicaid usually will. Medicaid coverage is decided on a state by state basis, so it’s best to check your local guidelines. If you are eligible for Medicaid, you may be able to receive a hearing aid for free depending on the rules of your state. Medicaid will also typically cover hearing tests to determine if you need a hearing aid.
How to Pay for Hearing Aids
If neither Medicare nor Medicaid will pay for your hearing aid, you may still be able to get coverage through a Veterans’ program if you are a veteran. If you are a federal employee or retiree, you can look into the Federal Employees Health Benefit Program to see if you are eligible.
If you are not eligible for any of those programs, many hearing aid companies will set up reasonable payment plans. This way you can get the hearing aid you need and pay for it over time.
What to Do if I Can't Afford a Hearing Aid?
If you don’t fall into any category for aid and are not able to set up a reasonable payment plan with a hearing aid company, there is financial assistance available through several programs depending on your income. You can contact the Hearing Loss Association of America to see what local programs or organizations may be able to help. There are also several groups and programs that may be able to get you a discount on your hearing aid. These include the Hear Now Program, Sertoma, and your Lions Club.
You can contact any of those groups to see if there are local chapters in your area where you can apply for assistance. As you can imagine, these groups get many requests and may not be able to help everyone. But, if you meet their criteria, you may be able to get the hearing aid you need.
SeniorLiving.org has information on many different types of hearing aids including comparisons so that you can see which one has the features you need. Explore our site to check out the different types.