Hearing aids can help people with hearing loss enjoy a better quality of life. These devices can help with communication – from making it easier to keep up with conversations, to hearing phone calls and TV shows better. Hearing aids are not just for older people; in fact, more than half of the population who needs these devices is under the age of 65. However, if you don’t have health insurance coverage for hearing aids, acquiring them on your own will definitely cost you a good amount of money.
Realistically speaking, good hearing aids are not cheap. The cheap and affordable ones cannot guarantee a good listening experience; you may only get amplified sound that doesn’t address your hearing needs at all. That’s just how it is with hearing aids. The good thing is, there are lots of ways to acquire a reliable hearing aid—for example, through selected insurance packages, flexible payment arrangements, leasing programs, or packages from your local audiologist. Most local audiologists can help in acquiring the best hearing aid for you without breaking the bank.
Speaking of insurance, let’s talk about Medicare.
Medicare is a national health insurance program established in 1965 under the Social Security Administration. It is now administered by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
Medicare is not just for the elderly. Younger individuals with serious diseases or disabilities also need coverage and may qualify if their conditions meet certain requirements. To learn more about Medicare and its benefits, check out their official website.
Does Medicare pay for hearing aids?
Original Medicare (Part A and Part B): Original Medicare does not cover hearing aids or exams for fitting hearing aids. Medicare may cover diagnostic hearing exams to help a doctor assess a hearing problem.
Medicare Advantage (Part C): Private insurance companies sell Medicare Advantage plans. Some Medicare Advantage plans have added benefits for vision, dental and hearing aids in order to make their plans more attractive. These plans can come with additional costs and network restrictions.
With Medicare Advantage Plans, health insurance companies have entered into a contractual agreement with a third party administrator. This third-party administrator fulfills the benefit for hearing aids and serves as an intermediary between the insurer and hearing health provider.
Some of the Medicare Advantage plans do cover hearing aids, although they may limit the maximum amount they’ll pay and a deductible may also apply. Copays for hearing aids vary dramatically among insurers, ranging anywhere from $0 to a few thousand dollars.
Moreover, some Medicare Advantage plans may offer a discount for specific hearing aids. In most cases, your local audiologist may be able to help you obtain the same or a better hearing aid at the same or better price.
Lastly, third parties have their own network of approved providers and their own way of approving providers to be in that network. It is completely separate from the network of the health insurance company, so it is entirely possible that a provider is in network with the health insurance company, but not in network with the third party. This can be extremely confusing to patients. Moreover, customer representatives at health insurance companies are not always clear with members about how this benefit works.
The Importance of Hearing Health
Hearing loss, if left untreated, may lead to social withdrawal and cognitive or mental issues. Although Medicare doesn’t pay for hearing aids and Medicare Advantage may be difficult to navigate, don’t lose hope. There are still so many ways to acquire a hearing aid.
The first thing you need to do is to get your hearing tested. With accurate and updated hearing results, it will be easier for you to look for the appropriate hearing device. A local audiologist can help you enjoy better hearing without breaking the bank. Get in touch with an audiologist today to learn more about their flexible payment options and partner insurance companies.
Does Medicare pay for hearing tests?
Medicare covers diagnostic hearing tests and balance exams if recommended by your primary care provider. If you would like to utilize these services, ask your primary care provider for a recommendation. This can significantly lessen your out of pocket expenses.
What Medicare plans cover hearing aids?
Original Medicare (parts A and B) does not have coverage for hearing aids. However, some part of Medicare Part C plans may include coverage of hearing services, including hearing aids.
When you enroll in Medicare, make sure to consider your health needs or visualize what you might need as you get older. For example, if you have a history of family members with hearing loss, you might want to consider including hearing health coverage in your insurance packages. Planning for your retirement includes thinking about how you can cover your expenses for any possible health issue you may acquire as you get older.
Why doesn’t Medicare cover comprehensive hearing care?
The Medicare Act was signed into law in 1965, a time when hearing aids were excluded because of their low demand and cost. This was also a time when hearing aids weren’t really expected to be needed by adults and seniors. Lawmakers back then also didn’t anticipate an increase in elderly people with hearing loss due to aging—understandably, life expectancy during those years wasn’t as long as it is today.
Even though Original Medicare does not cover hearing aids, you’re not out of luck if you’re looking for affordable options. Many audiology clinics will offer possibilities for leasing or no-interest payment plans for purchasing hearing aids. Your private insurance provider may also assist you. If your private insurance informs you they pay for hearing aids, make sure to check whether it is at full or partial cost. You can also apply to organizations and nonprofits that provide grants or financial assistance (or related types of assistance) for individuals who are candidates for hearing aids but with little or no income to afford one. Hearing the Call is one community outreach program that provides affordable hearing health care to the low-income community. There are many opportunities to help you take care of your hearing!