Hearing loss impacts more than we can imagine. From hearing our favorite songs to listening to the sounds of our grandchildren’s laughter, being able to hear connects us to the world around us. Being able to hear helps seniors retain their independence.
Age-related hearing loss is common among seniors. The National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders estimates that roughly one-third of people between 65 and 74 have hearing loss, and almost half of those older than 75 have difficulty hearing.
When you begin to experience hearing difficulties, your doctor will likely recommend that you are fitted for a hearing aid. However, hearing aids are costly. How can you reduce your hearing aid costs? Does Medicare provide coverage?
In this article, we will outline what to expect regarding hearing aid costs, what Medicare currently covers, proposed changes in legislation, and what other options are available.
How much do hearing aids cost?
Hearing aids range between $1,000 and $6,000, while the average seems to be around $2,500. Of course, it depends on the type of hearing aid and any bells and whistles that are included. For example, some hearing aids have Bluetooth connectivity.
Many companies will provide a bundled package with an average cost of $5,000. It will include the hearing aids themselves, along with the following:
- the hearing aid
- any hearing tests
- fitting and adjusting the hearing aid
- routine cleaning
Your hearing aids are designed to last between three and seven years. You may replace them several times throughout your lifetime. Studies have shown that this cost is simply unattainable for many Americans.
Does Original Medicare cover hearing aids?
Short answer: Medicare does not cover hearing aids.
However, there are some exceptions.
For example, if you require hearing aids because of a medical condition (such as an ear infection or tumor), Medicare may cover the cost of the hearing aids as part of your treatment. Similarly, Medicare may cover the cost of your hearing aid if it is part of a cochlear implant.
However, most seniors facing hearing loss do not have coverage through Original Medicare (or Medicare Parts A and B).
Medicare Part B will not cover routine hearing tests. However, it will cover hearing-and-balance testing if your doctor recommends it as medically necessary. If your doctor does recommend you for this test, you will have to pay 20% of the cost after your annual Part B deductible.
Do Medicare Advantage Plans cover hearing aids?
Despite the lack of coverage from Original Medicare, you still have options for purchasing hearing aids. One option is to purchase hearing aids through a Medicare Advantage (Part C) Plan.
Your coverage will vary, so speak to your insurance provider to find out if they cover:
- The cost of your hearing aid (and if there is a set amount)
- The entire amount or if they cover a set amount per ear
- The price (or the partial cost) of a hearing aid if you purchase it from a specific healthcare provider
Does Medicaid cover the cost of hearing aids?
Medicaid may provide coverage for seniors who require hearing aids. The amount of coverage varies from state to state. The Hearing Loss Association of America provides a helpful breakdown of what each state covers and how to get more information.
Are there any other options for helping with the cost of hearing aids?
Another option is to purchase hearing aids directly from a hearing aid manufacturer or through a hearing healthcare provider. Many manufacturers offer financing options or payment plans to help make the cost of hearing aids more manageable.
Additionally, some hearing healthcare providers offer discounts or other cost-saving programs to help make hearing aids more affordable. The Hearing Industries Association also has a helpful guide of programs that can help.
If you have one, you may also allot a portion of your Healthcare Savings Account (HSA) to cover the cost of your hearing aids and other related expenses.
The Future of Hearing Aids Covered by Medicare
In recent years, there have been efforts to expand Medicare coverage to include hearing aids. In 2017, the Over-the-Counter Hearing Aid Act was passed, which allows certain hearing aids to be sold over the counter without a prescription. While this is a step in the right direction, it does not help with the cost, as these over-the-counter hearing aids can still be costly.
Several bills have been introduced, such as the Medicare Audiologist Access and Services Act of 2021 or the Hearing Protection Act of 2021, that would expand Medicare coverage. Most recently, on January 10, 2023, the Medicare Hearing Aid Coverage Act was reintroduced to Congress. This bill proposes to expand Medicare to include the cost of hearing aids.
Making the most of your Medicare coverage with The Medicare Family
Working with The Medicare Family is an excellent way to maximize your Medicare coverage, especially if you need hearing aids. For over 40 years, The Medicare Family has helped seniors navigate their Medicare coverage. We know it can be complex and overwhelming. Still, we can provide information on what services and supplies are covered by Medicare and help you understand any out-of-pocket costs you may be responsible for.
By working with The Medicare Family, you can ensure that you are getting the most out of your Medicare coverage and finding the best solution for your needs. Book a call with us today to get started!