Currently Medicare does not cover any form or routine dental, vision, or hearing services. This also means Medicare does not cover hearing aids.
This is unfortunate since hearing aids can be quite expensive, costing as much as $3,000 or more per ear. However, at the time Medicare was created back in 1965, life expectancy was not as long as it is today. Many individuals did not live as long as they do in today’s world, and so there weren’t as many people experiencing age-related loss of hearing.
There is some good news on the horizon though. In 2017, Congress authorized the FDA to form a new class of devices to aid hearing. These new over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids will help beneficiaries with mild to moderate hearing loss. The devices will be federally regulated by the FDA.
These aids will be different from some of the OTC the devices now available, which are personal sound amplification products. These products are not regulated by the FDA and in fact cannot be marketed or sold as hearing aids.
Hearing Exams under Medicare
Medicare does not cover routine hearing exams and this means that traditional Medicare supplements cannot cover them either. However, if your doctor orders a diagnostic hearing exam because he or she suspects that may have an underlying health condition that requires treatment, then Medicare Part B might cover the cost of the hearing test or a balance exam.
The key here is whether the hearing exam is medically necessary with diagnosing or excluding another health condition. For example, your doctor may order a hearing exam to see if suspected hearing loss that you are experiencing is really a symptom of vertigo or a neurological condition.
To find out if you have hearing loss, you should visit an audiologist.
While Original Medicare doesn’t cover hearing exams or aids, some Part C Medicare Advantage plans may include benefits related to hearing as well as hearing aids.
To find out if your Medicare Advantage plan covers hearing aids or hearing exams, you should check your plan’s Summary of Benefits. This document will also provide you with details on how to obtain any covered hearing exams and how and where to order hearing aids, if covered.
How to Tell If You Have Hearing Loss
Some of the signs that you may have experienced hearing loss are:
- You have trouble hearing in a crowd or in a place with alot of background noise
- You often need to ask others to speak more slowly or repeat what they have just said
- Other people tell you that you are shouting when you speak to them
- You hear better out of one ear than you do out of the other ear
- Sometimes you experience headaches from straining to hear
How to Find Help with the Cost of Hearing Aids
Since Medicare doesn’t cover hearing aids, you’ll need to investigate other ways of paying for hearing aids.
If you have money in a Health Savings Account (HSA) or Flexible Spending Account (FSA), you can use those contributions to pay for hearing aids and batteries.
People with Medicaid may qualify for hearing aids through their states Medicaid benefits. Speak with your local Medicaid office to see if you qualify.
If you are a veteran and your hearing loss is related to your military, you may be able to get hearing aids and accessories through the VA. For example, the VA provides hearing services to Purple Heart recipients, former prisoners of war, veterans with any paying service-connected disability and several other groups.
There are several non-profit groups that help certain groups of people with the cost of hearing aids. The National Hearing Aid Project helps low-income individuals with their costs for hearing aids. Hear Now is another program that provides hearing assistance to individuals with low or limited income. You can also visit the Hearing Loss Association of America website for more resources on hearing.
Lastly, you can purchase standalone policies that offer dental, vision, and hearing services.