Does Medicare Cover Hearing Aids?
Among American adults aged 70 and older with age-related hearing loss, only 30% have ever used hearing aids. Confusing health coverage and policies can make it challenging for seniors to get the medical attention and resources they need.
Medicare Hearing Aid Coverage Options
Medicare does not cover the cost of hearing aids or any associated costs, like fittings or follow-ups with audiologists. Those with Medicare Parts A and B will need to pay out of pocket or find an alternative way to cover the cost of this type of medical treatment.
Medicare will cover the cost of hearing tests that might determine if you need hearing aids. However, these tests must have a physician or primary caregiver referral.
Medicare Advantage Hearing Aid Coverage
Many people opt into Medicare Advantage when they sign up for Medicare. Also called Part C, Medicare Advantage is a program offering supplementary coverage from private providers. It helps fill the gaps in traditional Parts A and B, so policyholders can receive more comprehensive coverage that better meets their needs, like vision, hearing and dental coverage.
If you or a loved one needs hearing aids, a Part C plan could include this coverage. However, each plan is unique and has different coverage and requirements. When exploring the policies offered under Part C, you should carefully review the included benefits to find an option with comprehensive coverage for hearing aids.
How Much Do Hearing Aids Cost?
When Medicare plans require policyholders to pay out of pocket for hearing aids and associated costs, you can prepare or search for alternative options by understanding what you should expect to pay. On average, one hearing aid will cost around $2,000, but a pair can cost as much as $8,000.
The price fluctuation in hearing aids comes from various factors.
- Pairs versus single hearing aids: Everyone living with hearing loss has unique needs. While one person might only need a hearing aid for one ear, another might require them for both. People paying for two hearing aids will understandably pay more than those who need only one, causing a more drastic price discrepancy.
- Type: Manufacturers design hearing aids to accommodate hearing loss levels and individualized needs. While some models wrap around the outside of the ear, others sit directly in the ear canal. Depending on your required or preferred type, you might expect thousands of dollars in cost differences.
- Integrated technology: Modern research and technological advances have allowed hearing aid technology to offer more features and benefits to users. Hearing aids can come with Bluetooth connectivity, so users can better hear content on their phones, laptops and tablets and connect to more applications, like video call systems. However, these features will cost hearing aid costs to increase over the average.
- Customizations: Some hearing aid types require complete customizations, while others are more ready to use as-is. If you need or want customized features or configurations, you should expect higher costs or larger price ranges for hearing aids.
- Bundles: Many hearing aid prices include other services, like follow-ups with audiologists, hearing aid fittings and maintenance and repair costs. You can ask to unbundle prices if they are too high or you don’t need some added services.
Cost increases can also be due to audiologists buying hearing aids and reselling them to patients at a higher price.
How to Pay for My Hearing Aids
Since hearing aids can be costly, many people with hearing loss seek alternative options to offset the costs of essential care and assistive technology. Weighing your options can allow you to get the necessary care. Especially for older people who qualify for Medicare, hearing aids can enable them to maintain a healthy social life, reducing isolation and depression.
Medicaid can help low-income people and families afford the vital health care they need. For hearing aids and services, Medicaid outlines qualifications by state.
California residents can receive hearing services and aids under Medicaid. These policies will include many benefits Medicare doesn’t cover, such as:
- Hearing tests and exams
- Hearing aids
- Ear molds
- Parts and replacements
- Replacements for lost, stolen or damaged hearing aids
- Follow-up tests and exams for cochlear implants
While Medicaid can offer California citizens more comprehensive coverage than Medicare and select private plans, this policy still has features and services that people might have to pay for out of pocket. While Medicaid in California will cover hearing tests that measure overall hearing ability, it does not include those that test hearing aid functionality. It will also not cover the cost of hearing aid batteries.
In some situations, Medicaid requires authorization before granting coverage. For repairs over $25 or rentals, policyholders will have to wait for approval from Medicaid.
Veterans make up a significant percentage of hearing aid users. As of 2020, the Veterans Affairs Administration had provided 1.3 million veterans with disability compensation for hearing loss. If you qualify, VA benefits can provide access and coverage for essential hearing care and technology. The VA has audiologists and audiology health technicians who can monitor hearing health and pair veterans with the correct hearing aids for their needs.
You can receive VA disability claims if you are an active-duty service member or veteran and have an injury or illness caused or exacerbated by your time in the military. You must meet one or more of the following criteria:
- You had the condition when you served, and being in the military made it worse.
- You developed this condition in service.
- Your illness or injury only emerged after your active-duty service ended, but it still results from the time you served.
Veterans can submit claims through the VA to receive tax-free monthly payments to cover the cost of hearing health care and technology, like the price of hearing aids and tests.
California nonprofits and volunteer organizations can also provide benefits and assistance to people who need hearing aids and cannot afford them under their Medicare plan.
Freedom Tech offers financing options for those who require assistive hearing technology, including hearing aids. Loans range from $500 to $15,000, giving California residents more freedom to choose the hearing aid that best suits their needs. To be eligible for a loan, you must be a California resident over 18 who demonstrates the ability to repay the money. You may need to provide proof of income or financial stability.
The Providence Speech and Hearing Center is another excellent resource for the hard-of-hearing and Deaf communities in California. This local organization offers comprehensive hearing aid services, including:
- Audiological evaluations that determine hearing loss severity
- Ear measurements and molds to fit hearing aids
- Assistive listening devices
- Hearing aid repair
These clinics also offer financing, grants and scholarships to help low-income patients cover their health costs.
Find the Best Coverage for You With Health for California
Navigating the world of health insurance by yourself can be daunting and confusing, especially when you’re getting ready to sign up for Medicare. At Health for California, we help walk state residents through their insurance options, including Medicare and Part C plans, to match people with the best policy for them. Whether you need help discovering a Part C policy that will support your needs or includes access to affordable hearing aids, Health of California is here to help.
Schedule an appointment today to discuss your options with one of our consultants.
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