Does Medicare Cover Hearing Aids?

Does Medicare Cover Hearing Aids? – Overview

It’s estimated that hearing loss is prevalent in two-thirds of individuals above 70 years in America.

Original Medicare (Part A & B) does not cover the cost of hearing aids or routine hearing exams, including hearing aid fitting.

Medicare Part B covers diagnostic hearing exams if your doctor orders them to determine if you need medical treatment.

Many Medicare Advantage (Part C) plans offer additional benefits, including coverage for hearing aids and exams.

What Are Hearing Aids?

Hearing aids are small electric gadgets that can be customized to cater to various kinds of hearing impairments.

Hearing aids are digital devices, and as such, they have a microphone to collect sound and circuitry that processes and then amplifies the sound.

Hearing aids have a speaker that channels sound to the ear and a battery to power the device. Advanced models can connect wirelessly to smartphones, but they do not connect directly to the neural system.

Not everyone experiencing hearing loss can use hearing aids. Studies show that only one out of five people who need them actually have them.

This is because these devices are by no means cheap and need insurance coverage to subsidize the cost.

Why Doesn’t Medicare Cover Hearing Aids?

When the Medicare Act was drafted into law in 1965, it excluded coverage for hearing aids, largely due to cost considerations, not because they were cheap or used occasionally.

This meant that Medicare subscribers usually would have to pay the total amount for hearing aids.

At the time, most senior citizens didn’t live as long as they do today, so only a tiny percentage of them had hearing loss caused by old age.

There was also very little understanding of how vital hearing loss treatment is in an effort to reduce social anxiety and depression.

However, things are about to change for the better. The Medicare Audiologist Access and Services Act aims to improve access to audiology services under Medicare.

When Do You Know You Need Hearing Aids?

Evident signs that show you might require hearing aids include:

1. If at all times you feel as if the people around you are whispering when they aren’t.

2. If you have an issue processing group dialogues.

3. If you constantly ask people to repeat themselves.

4. If you can’t hear a conversation over the phone.

5. If you at times hear a hissing or ringing sound in your ears.

6. If you have to raise the TV or sound system volume to hear well.

7. If you have trouble determining where a particular sound is coming from.

8. If you feel stressed or tired after a dialogue.

Normal hearing means that you can perceive sounds less than 25 decibels or a whisper.

If the least amount of sound you can perceive is 30 decibels or louder, you could need a pair of hearing aids.

Note that hearing aids don’t restore normal hearing. Rather, they help intensify sounds and voices in specific pitch ranges.

In most instances, you need hearing aids for one ear, but it is not uncommon to need hearing devices for both ears.

Do the Various Parts of Medicare Cover Hearing Aids?

Medicare Part A

Medicare Part A doesn’t pay for hearing exams, hearing device fitting, or the devices themselves. In addition, this plan doesn’t even cover senior citizens who have subscribed to Medicare because of a disability.

So if you subscribe to Medicare Part A and you need hearing aids, you’ll have to pay the total amount for the hearing device and any other expenses related to getting it.

Medicare Part B

Although Medicare Part B doesn’t pay for hearing aids, it pays for hearing checks recommended by a physician who needs to diagnose whether you have a hearing disorder.

However, you are still liable to pay 20% of the Medicare-approved expenses.

You will also have to pay the unsettled deductibles on your plan. If you go for a hearing examination in a hospital’s outpatient section, you will have to pay the healthcare provider directly without going through Medicare.

Medicare Part B covers bone-anchoring hearing aids (BAHAs), considered prosthetic devices and covered when medically necessary.

BAHAs are surgically installed devices that cater to individuals with various kinds of hearing impairments.

BAHAs function differently compared to typical hearing aids because they convey sound through bone conduction, provoking the cochlea and going around the middle and outer ear.

However, these devices could be a suitable option if they can fix your hearing impairment.

Medicare Part C

Medicare Part C or Medicare Advantage is the authorized alternative to Original Medicare (Part A & B).

Medicare Part C offers benefits beyond Original Medicare, such as hearing aids, dental, eye checkups, and treatment.

A significant percentage of Medicare Advantage plans offer some level of coverage for hearing aids, but the exact percentage can vary. So if you have a Medicare Part C plan from a private insurance provider, a portion of your hearing aids fitting and the purchase will be paid for.

However, you need to confirm with your insurance provider’s summary of benefits to see if your specific hearing aid is covered because these plans vary massively in their coverage.

Medicare Part D

Medicare Part D is a non-compulsory benefit plan which usually pays for prescription medication. Just like Medicare Part C, this plan is provided by private companies sanctioned by Medicare. However, Medicare Part D doesn’t pay for hearing aids or hearing checkups.

Do Medicare Supplement Plans Pay for Hearing Aids?

Medicare Supplement Insurance policies, also known as Medigap, do not pay for hearing aids. Instead, they are provided by private insurance companies to help pay for out-of-pocket expenses such as copayments and coinsurance not paid for Medicare Part A & B.

Final Thought

To sum it all up, hearing loss is likely to accelerate as you age, and you might need hearing aids to correct the issue.

So, when enrolling for Original Medicare, consider all your personal needs to determine whether you’ll need hearing devices in the future.

Compare various options for Medicare Advantage Plans, and you’ll find a plan that works for you.

See Also

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Does Medicare Cover Dental Implants

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Does Medicaid Cover Dermatology

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Current Version
August 18, 2023
Updated By
Andrea Morales G.
April 15, 2024
Updated By
Andrea Morales G.

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