Medicare and Hearing Aids
Do your family members say you're hard of hearing, even if you don't notice it? It may be time to get your hearing checked.
Hearing loss can have many causes -- an inherited condition, illness, injury. If you're suffering from hearing loss and need a hearing aid, there are certain situations where you may be eligible for coverage under Medicare.
Hearing aids and Original Medicare, Part A and Part B
In general, Original Medicare and most Medicare Supplement (or Medigap) Plans don't cover hearing aids, routine hearing exams, or fittings for hearing aids. This means that without other insurance, you could pay 100% of the cost for routine hearing exams, fittings, and hearing aids.
A hearing aid can cost Medicare hundreds to thousands of dollars. Since four out of every 10 Americans who may benefit from a hearing aid are Medicare-eligible, Medicare would have to provide hearing aids for about four million people, making the cost prohibitive for the agency.
Medicare Part B does, however, cover diagnostic hearing tests that your doctor orders for a medical need like a recent hearing loss due to illness or injury. If your doctor orders a diagnostic hearing test, then you would pay 20% of the amount approved by Medicare, plus the Medicare Part B deductible.
Always make sure your doctor accepts Medicare assignment; that is, he or she is participating in the Medicare program. If a non-participating doctor orders a hearing test for you, you might have to pay all the costs of the test.
Regardless of the outcome of the diagnostic test, Medicare still does not cover the hearing aid itself.
Hearing aids and Medicare Advantage
Some Medicare Advantage plans (Medicare Part C) cover hearing exams and hearing aids. Medicare Advantage plans often offer benefits not typically included with Original Medicare (Part A and Part B), such as routine hearing exams and hearing aids. Since each Medicare Advantage plan is different, you should compare plans carefully to find one that fits all of your medical needs. You can see if any Medicare Advantage plans in your area cover hearing aids and exams by using our Medicare Advantage plan comparison tool.
If you have insurance that covers hearing exams, such as Medicare Advantage or Medicaid, follow your plan's instructions for getting an exam. If your doctor does not perform hearing exams, he or she may refer you to a specialist.
Buying a hearing aid
The cost for hearing aids ranges from hundreds to thousands of dollars. If you have health insurance that covers hearing aids, such as Medicare Advantage, be sure to read your plan documents carefully, because you may only be covered if you buy your hearing aid from certain suppliers or through a certain process. If you don't have such coverage, you can buy hearing aids wherever you want.
Some states have hearing-related benefits, including coverage for hearing aids, for qualified residents through Medicaid and other state programs. The Hearing Loss Association of America website has state-specific information on hearing aid coverage.
Since Original Medicare does not cover hearing aids, you should be wary of any ads that say they can get Medicare to pay for your hearing aid.
Medicare has neither reviewed nor endorsed this information.