If you’re someone who is hard of hearing and in need of a hearing aid, you might be wondering if it’s covered by Medicare. After all, hearing aids can be expensive. You’ll need the device, costly batteries, proper fitment, and an initial hearing test. So it would help to have them covered.
In this article, we’ll get into Medicare’s coverage of hearing aids, so keep on reading!
- Hearing aids are little electronic devices that are inserted in the ear to help correct hearing.
- Hearing aids come in a variety of sizes, which can affect how powerful they are and how long their battery life lasts.
- Hearing aids can cost an average of $2,500 without coverage.
- Medicare will not cover hearing aids and routine hearing tests for standard hearing correction.
- Medicare will cover major hearing-related treatments, such as hearing tests related to balance and cochlear implants for the severely deaf.
- Many Medicare Advantage plans cover hearing aids and other hearing services with plan-specific providers.
- MedigapMedicare Supplements are additional insurance policies that Medicare beneficiaries can purchase to cover the gaps in their Original Medicare (Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B) health insurance coverage. will provide help with costs for Orginal Medicare-approved hearing services, but hearing services outside of those few exceptions are not covered by Medigap.
What are Hearing Aids?
Hearing aids are small electronic devices that function similar to a microphone, transferring and amplifying sound waves received by the device. A hearing aid is inserted into your ear to amplify the sounds around you if you have difficulty hearing. Hearing aids may be prescribed during a hearing test if the doctor determines that your hearing needs correction.1mayoclinic.org, “Hearing aids“, Accessed November 11, 2021
Hearing Aid Sizes
Hearing aids are fitted to your ear by your doctor and come in a wide variety of sizes depending on how much sound amplification is needed. If you desire a smaller and discreet hearing aid, consult with your doctor to determine the necessary size. Smaller hearing aids tend to have a shorter battery life, so you may find yourself changing batteries more often with smaller hearing aids. From smallest to largest, examples of hearing aid sizes include:1mayoclinic.org, “Hearing aids“, Accessed November 11, 2021
- Completely in the canal (CIC)
- In the canal (ITC)
- In the ear (ITE)
- Behind the ear (BTE)
- Receiver in canal (RIC)
- Receiver in the ear (RITE)
How Much Do Hearing Aids Cost?
The costs for hearing aids can range from $1,000 to $6,000 depending on the required type, averaging about $2,500 without coverage.2medicalnewstoday.com, “Cost of hearing aids: What to know“, Accessed November 11, 2021
How Does Medicare Cover Hearing Aids?
Most people find it challenging to hear clearly as they age, especially in a noisy environment. Unfortunately, Medicare has made it very clear on its website that it does not cover hearing aids under Part AMedicare Part A is hospital coverage for Medicare beneficiaries. It covers inpatient care in hospitals and skilled nursing facilities. It also covers limited home healthcare services and hospice care. and Part BMedicare Part B is medical coverage for people with Original Medicare benefits. It covers doctor visits, preventative care, tests, durable medical equipment, and supplies. Medicare Part B pays 80 percent of most medically necessary healthcare services. (Original MedicareOriginal Medicare is private fee-for-service health insurance for people on Medicare. It has two parts. Part A is hospital coverage. Part B is medical coverage.). It also does not cover routine hearing exams. Under Original Medicare, you will be paying for your hearing-related services completely out-of-pocket.3Medicare.gov, “Hearing aids“, Accessed November 17, 2021
Are There Any Exceptions?
Medicare will cover a hearing exam if your doctor determines it’s medically necessaryServices or supplies that are needed for the diagnosis or treatment of your medical condition and meet accepted standards of medical practice. (e.g., balance-related)4Medicare.gov, “Hearing & balance exams“, Accessed November 11, 2021. Medicare also covers surgically implanted devices, such as a cochlear implant that offers a sense of sound5Medicare.gov, “Prosthetic devices“, Accessed November 17, 2021.
Medicare Advantage Plans (Medicare Part CMedicare Part C is Medicare's private health plan option. Also known as Medicare Advantage, Medicare Part C plans are a type of Medicare health plan offered by companies that contract with Medicare to provide all...) have the option to include additional health benefits, including hearing, vision, and dental. These plans are offered through private companies and provide similar coverage to Medicare. Medicare recommends contacting your plan to see whether or not your hearing-related services are covered.6Medicare.gov, “How do Medicare Advantage Plans work?“, Accessed November 17, 2021
A Medigap policy can help cover the out-of-pocket costsOut-of-Pocket Costs for Medicare are the remaining costs that are not covered by the beneficiary's health insurance plan. These costs can come from the beneficiary's monthly premiums, deductibles, coinsurance, and copayments. for hearing services that Original Medicare does cover, such as balance-related hearing tests and cochlear implants. Medigap will not help with any services that Medicare does not normally cover. Medicare supplement insurance, as it is also known, is available through private insurance companies. Original Medicare costs that are covered by Medigap include:7Medicare.gov, “What’s Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap)?“, Accessed November 17, 2021
- DeductiblesA deductible is an amount a beneficiary must pay for their health care expenses before the health insurance policy begins to pay its share.
- CoinsuranceCoinsurance is a percentage of the total you are required to pay for a medical service.
- CopaymentsA copayment, also known as a copay, is a set dollar amount you are required to pay for a medical service.
Why Does Medicare Make It So Difficult To Find Out If A Plan Covers Hearing Aids?
To put it simply: different plans offer different coverage.
Often, what is and isn’t offered differs by state and county as well, so the availability of hearing aid coverage might depend on your location. This is true of all Medicare Advantage plansMedicare Advantage (MA), also known as Medicare Part C, are health plans from private insurance companies that are available to people eligible for Original Medicare (Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B)., which have regional benefits, costs, and providers.
The Hearing Loss Association of America recognizes this, and they offer help to find the coverage that best fits your needs.
Why Won’t Original Medicare Cover My Hearing Aids?
This harkens all the way back to 1965.
Back then, The Medicare Act of 1965 chose to exclude hearing aid coverage from Medicare, stating that hearing aids were low in cost and routinely needed.
In addition, people did not live as long, so fewer people suffered from hearing loss related to age. This made it less urgent for Medicare to cover hearing-related healthcare at the time.
Sadly, because of a lack of coverage, most people on Medicare are not receiving the hearing care that they need. As mentioned above, however, there are exceptions.
Want to See What Medicare Plans Are Available for You?
Now that you know the answer to the question “Does Medicare cover hearing aids?” you might be wondering how to find a Medicare Advantage plan that offers coverage. You can do that using our Medicare Advantage Finder tool.
If you prefer, you can speak directly with a knowledgeable advisor who will answer your questions and help you find a plan.
Call 1-855-728-0510 (TTY 711) for plan assistance.
If you qualify for Medicare and don't know where to start, MedicareEnrollment.com, an independent HealthCompare insurance broker, has licensed agents who can help you with your Medicare enrollment options.
- 1mayoclinic.org, “Hearing aids“, Accessed November 11, 2021
- 2medicalnewstoday.com, “Cost of hearing aids: What to know“, Accessed November 11, 2021
- 3Medicare.gov, “Hearing aids“, Accessed November 17, 2021
- 4Medicare.gov, “Hearing & balance exams“, Accessed November 11, 2021
- 5Medicare.gov, “Prosthetic devices“, Accessed November 17, 2021
- 6Medicare.gov, “How do Medicare Advantage Plans work?“, Accessed November 17, 2021
- 7Medicare.gov, “What’s Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap)?“, Accessed November 17, 2021