Our sense of hearing allows us to connect with the world and build strong relationships. Without fair hearing, conversations can be difficult, and you can miss out on essential interactions with the people you love. You could even find your hobbies and lifestyle suffering.
If you are one of the almost 30 million American adults who could benefit from using hearing aids, you may be wondering if Medicare can help cover your hearing aid costs.
In this article, we outline which parts of Medicare could help with the cost of hearing aids.
Original Medicare (the name for Medicare Part A and Part B) does not pay for hearing aids typically, but it may cover hearing exams. Some Medicare Advantage plans (Medicare Part C) may cover hearing aids, however. In fact, 88% of Medicare Advantage plans cover hearing aids in 2021.
Many Medicare beneficiaries choose to receive their Part A and B benefits through a bundled Medicare Part C plan, often called a Medicare Advantage plan. These plans must offer at least the same level of coverage as Original Medicare, and they typically cover additional benefits.
Part C plans must at least match Medicare Part B hearing care coverage, and many plans also cover benefits such as prescription drugs, eye exams and glasses, dental care and hearing aids.
It's important to note that not all Medicare Advantage plans are available in all areas, and there may not be plans available where you live that cover hearing aids.
Medicare Part B may cover care for a hearing related medical condition or diagnostic hearing tests to help a doctor assess a hearing problem.
You may feel that hearing aids are medically necessary, but Medicare Part B does not cover most people's cost. However, Part B does cover cochlear implants and bone-anchoring hearing aids (BAHA) because Medicare classifies them as prosthetic devices rather than hearing aids.
These hearing systems are surgically implanted devices that work differently than standard hearing aids. A BAHA is anchored to a bone in the skull. Rather than simply amplifying sound, it sends vibrations directly to the inner ear and bypasses the middle and outer ear. In comparison, a surgically placed cochlear implant stimulates the auditory nerve through electrodes.
These devices can help people with middle ear or ear canal problems that prevent sound waves from reaching the inner ear. For people with this hearing loss problem, traditional hearing aids may not work as effectively.
Private insurance companies sell Medicare Advantage plans. Medicare Advantage plans often include coverage for hearing, vision, and dental care, plus coverage for prescription drugs. Some comprehensive Part C plans cover hearing aids and their maintenance costs.
If you are considering enrolling in a Medicare Advantage plan, it's essential to review the policy's cost and coverage, as this can vary considerably by individual policies. In 2021, the average premium for a Medicare Advantage plan that includes prescription drug coverage is roughly $34 per month.
Some popular Medicare Advantage plan companies include:
Medicare Supplement Insurance plans, also called Medigap, do not provide coverage for hearing aids. In fact, these plans don’t provide coverage for any health care services or items at all.
Instead, Medigap plans provide coverage for out-of-pocket costs associated with Original Medicare, such as Part A and Part B deductibles, coinsurance and copayments.
Learn more about Medicare Supplement Insurance plans.
If you have Medicare and need help paying for a hearing aid, there are some programs that might be able to offer some assistance.
The cost of hearing aids depends on several factors, such as the type of hearing loss someone has, the quality of materials use in the hearing aid and the kind of technology used in the device.
At the lower end of the market, economical hearing aids can cost around $1500-$3000 per hearing aid, whereas premium models using sophisticated technology could cost as much as $6000 each. If you need one for each ear, the price will be considerably more.
When you buy hearing aids, the cost usually includes a hearing test, consultation, and the initial fitting. You'll then return for follow-up appointments to adjust the hearing aids and customize them to your specific needs.
It's important to factor in other associated costs. Hearing aids require maintenance, such as routine cleaning and replacement batteries. You should also consider how you would cover loss or accidental damage.
To find out more about your options and to compare plans available where you live that may cover hearing aids, call to speak with licensed insurance agent today.
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