Last Updated on February 28, 2022 by Anne-Sophie Reinhardt
- 1 Does Medicare Cover Hearing Aids in 2021?
- 2 Do the Various Parts of Medicare Cover Hearing Aids?
- 3 Do Medicare Supplement Plans Pay for Hearing Aids?
Does Medicare Cover Hearing Aids in 2021?
Two-thirds of Americans over 70 are affected by hearing loss. Original Medicare Part A & B does not cover the cost of hearing aids, or any related costs such as fitting hearing aids and checking for them.
Medicare Part B can cover some of the costs for hearing tests if a doctor deems it necessary to have them. Some Medicare Advantage (Part C), plans also cover hearing aid exams and devices.
What Are Hearing Aids?
The hearing aids are small, portable electric devices that can be tailored to suit different types of hearing impairments. Digital devices such as hearing aids have a microphone that collects sound and circuitry which amplifies it. A hearing aid also has a speaker to channel sound to the ear, and a battery to power it. The latest hearing aids can now be connected to smartphones or the neural system.
Hearing aids are not for every people having hearing loss. Studies show that only one in five people who require hearing aids has them. These devices are not cheap, and insurance coverage is required to cover the cost.
Why Doesn’t Medicare Cover Hearing Aids?
The Medicare Act, which was passed into law in 1965 did not cover hearing aids. This was due to the fact that hearing aids are often used only occasionally and were relatively cheap at the time. Medicare subscribers would usually have to pay the full cost of hearing aids. In those days, senior citizens were not as likely to live as long as today. As a result, only a small percentage of people with hearing loss due to old age had hearing problems. It was not well understood how important hearing loss treatment is to help reduce anxiety and depression.
Things are changing for the better. A bill called the Medicare Audiologist Access & Services Act of 2019, which is currently in progress, is proposing Medicare coverage for audiology services and hearing aids.
When Do You Know You Need Hearing Aids?
These are signs that you may need hearing aids:
- People around you whisper when they aren’t.
- Having trouble understanding a group of people talking
- Making people repeat what they say.
- Conversations over the phone cannot be heard.
- Hearing a ringing or hissing sound in your ears.
- Having to raise the volume of the TV or sound system more than its normal volume.
- Cannot identify the direction of the sound.
- Conversations tire you.
Normal hearing is when you can hear sounds at 25 decibels or a whisper. You may need a pair of hearing aids if you are unable to hear 30 decibels of sound or more.
Hearing aids will not restore your normal hearing. They enhance sounds and voices within specific pitch ranges. Most cases, hearing aids are only needed for one ear. However, it is not unusual to need hearing aids in both ears.
Do the Various Parts of Medicare Cover Hearing Aids?
Medicare Part A
Medicare Part A does not pay for hearing tests, hearing device fittings, or the actual devices. This plan does not cover seniors who have signed up for Medicare due to a disability.
If you have Medicare Part A and need hearing aids, then you will be responsible for paying the entire cost of the device as well as any additional expenses.
Medicare Part B
Medicare Part B does not pay for hearing aids but it will pay for hearing tests recommended by a doctor who must diagnose if you have a hearing disorder. You are still responsible for 20% of Medicare-approved expenses. The unpaid deductibles will be added to your plan. You will need to pay directly the healthcare provider if you are going to a hospital’s outpatient department for a hearing exam.
Medicare Part B also covers BAHA (bone anchoring hearing aids). BAHA devices are considered prosthetics by Medicare, and not hearing aids. BAHAs can be surgically placed devices that cater for individuals with different types of hearing impairments. BAHAs work differently than traditional hearing aids. They transmit sound through bone conduction, stimulating the cochlea and going around both the middle and the outer ear. These devices may be an option for you if your hearing loss can be corrected.
Medicare Part C
This plan is also known as Medicare Advantage, is an alternative to Original Medicare (Part A and B). Medicare Part C provides additional benefits to Original Medicare such as hearing aids and eye treatment. In fact, 88% Medicare Advantage providers will pay for hearing aids in 2021. If you have a Medicare Part B plan from a private insurer, a portion will cover the cost of fitting and purchasing your hearing aids.
You should check with your insurance provider to verify that your hearing aid is covered. These plans can vary greatly in terms of their coverage.
Medicare Part D
Medicare Part D, a non-compulsory benefit program that usually covers prescription medication. This plan, like Medicare Part C, is offered by private companies that are approved by Medicare. Medicare Part D does not cover hearing aids and hearing checkups.
Do Medicare Supplement Plans Pay for Hearing Aids?
Medicare Supplement Insurance policies also known as Medigap do not cover hearing aids. They are instead provided by private insurance companies to help cover out-of-pocket expenses like copayments or coinsurance that is not covered by Medicare Part A & B.
Hearing loss is a condition that will likely increase with age. You may need hearing aids in order to correct it. To determine if you will need hearing aids in the future, take into account all of your needs when you enroll for Original Medicare. Compare different options to find the best Medicare Advantage Plan for you.