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Does Medicare Cover Hearing Aids?

Many health insurance plans, including Original Medicare and  Medicare Supplement plans (also called Medigap), do not pay for hearing aids. Fortunately, individuals may find hearing benefits if they purchase a Medicare Advantage plan, which is sold by private companies to people who qualify for Medicare.

A recent 2021 bill proposal to add hearing aids as an Original Medicare benefit is still under review, and there are affordable alternatives to working with a hearing specialist. Keep reading to see what options you have.

Why Doesn’t Medicare Cover Hearing Aids?

Original Medicare doesn’t cover hearing aids because they were specifically excluded when Medicare was established in 1965. Hearing aids also do not meet the definition of durable medical equipment, which is covered under Medicare.

However, hearing aids may be covered in the future if a bill proposal (introduced in July 2021) passes. This bill proposes removing hearing aids and examinations from the list of Medicare coverage exclusions under Section 1862(a)(7) of the Social Security Act. It will also classify hearing aids as durable medical equipment, which can be covered by Medicare.

Original Medicare and Medicare Supplement plans (also called Medigap) do not pay for hearing aids.

Do Medicare Advantage Plans Offer Hearing Aid Benefits?

Original Medicare does not cover hearing aids but some Medicare Part C, or Medicare Advantage (MA) plans do. Four in 10 Medicare beneficiaries are enrolled in MA plans, and 93% of those plans offer some coverage for hearing aids, according to Kaiser Family Foundation. For example, a HealthSelect Medicare Advantage Plan PPO may include coverage for one routine hearing exam per plan year and up to $2,000 per hearing aid, every three years.

MA plan coverage can vary by plan and region and you should consult your insurance agent about expected coverages and costs. You can compare prices for Medicare Advantage plans by entering your zip code on this page.

How Much Do Hearing Aids Cost?

The average cost of hearing aids is $2,300 per ear with a cost range of $1,000 to $4,000 according to Consumer Affairs. The cost of hearing aids can consider multiple factors, including:

  • Brand: Certain brands may charge more than others. Some companies may offer hearing aids with unique features, like wireless charging.
  • Warranty: Some companies may allow you to return your hearing aid for a refund within the warranty period. Purchasing a warranty will add to your hearing aid costs.
  • Bundled services: Your provider may include the cost of hearing tests, consultations, fittings, cleanings, routine examinations and more into the cost of your hearing aid.

Without insurance coverage or a sizable nest egg in retirement, the cost of hearing aids can be a considerable financial setback. Only 14% of Americans that suffer hearing loss use hearing aids according to the Hearing Health Foundation (HHF).

You may get hearing benefits from a Medicare Advantage plan, which is sold by private companies to people who qualify for Original Medicare.

Why Do Hearing Aids Cost So Much?

Hearing aids carry high price tags because they’re often custom-made and require extensive research, among other factors.

  • Labor and services are packaged into the price: Hearing professionals may roll the cost of their services into the cost of hearing aids.
  • Smaller market size: The hearing aid’s smaller market size contributes to a higher cost per hearing aid.
  • Custom-made: Many hearing aids are made to accommodate a specific person’s ears, which takes time and labor for initial fitting and future re-fitting. Products, like glasses or contact lenses, are relatively cheaper because they can be mass-produced.
  • Returns within the warranty period: Some companies allow customers to return their hearing aids within a warranty period. Custom-made hearing aids cannot be resold, so prices go up to offset this potential loss.
  • Lack of competition: Competition generally drives down the cost of consumer goods over time. With a relatively small number of companies commanding the hearing aid market, costs remain high.

What Can You Expect To Pay Out of Pocket With Health Insurance?

Your health insurance company may cover $1,000 to $2,000 per hearing aid every 36 months depending on your health plan and age. Some plans may offer higher or lower coverage limits.

Unfortunately, not all health insurance companies offer hearing aid coverage, A 2017 survey by the HHF and the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) showed the following results:

  • Fewer than half of respondents (40%) do not receive hearing aid or audiological coverage through their health insurance company.
  • Only 13% of respondents received full coverage for hearing aids and audiological coverage.

If your health insurance plan does not have hearing aid coverage, you will be responsible for the full cost ($2,300 per ear, on average).

Over-the-Counter Hearing Aids as a Cheaper Alternative

President Joe Biden issued an Executive Order in 2021 that directed the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to propose rules for hearing aids to be sold over-the-counter (OTC). This would encourage market competition, drive down costs and make hearing aids more accessible to low-income individuals.

OTC hearing aids allow consumers to directly purchase hearing aids in-store or online without visiting a hearing health professional — similar to purchasing reading glasses from your local drugstore. While OTC hearing aids may not have the custom-made experience of working with a hearing professional, they can help hearing aids become more accessible by driving down costs and promoting competition.

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State Insurance Mandates for Hearing Aids

Health insurance companies must offer hearing aid coverage to children in 25 states. Unfortunately, only six states (Arkansas, Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire, New Mexico and Rhode Island) require coverage to be offered to adults. We’ve summarized state mandates for hearing aid coverage by state below.

State

Covered Individuals

Coverage Limits

Arkansas

All ages

$1,400 per ear, every 36 months

Colorado

Under age 18

New hearing aid, every 60 months (no dollar limit stated)

Connecticut

All ages

$1,000 every 24 months

Delaware

Child dependents under age 24

$1,000 per ear, every 36 months

Georgia

Ages 18 or younger

$3,000 per ear, every 48 months

Illinois

Under age 18

Every 12 months (no dollar limit stated)

Kentucky

Ages 18 or younger

$1,400 per ear, every 36 months

Louisiana

Ages 18 or younger

$1,400 per ear, every 36 months

Maine

All ages

$3,000 per ear every 36 months

Maryland

Under age 18

$1,400 per ear, every 36 months

Massachusetts

Ages 21 or younger

$2,000 per ear, every 36 months

Minnesota

Under age 18

One hearing aid per ear, every 36 months (no dollar limit stated)

Missouri

Coverage for infant hear screening, audiological assessment and hearing aids

Not stated

New Hampshire

All ages

$1,500 per ear, every 60 months

New Jersey

Ages 15 or younger

$1,000 per ear, every 24 months

New Mexico

All ages

$2,200 per ear, every 24 months

North Carolina

Under age 22

$2,500 per ear, every 36 months

Oklahoma

Ages 18 or younger

Every 48 months without dollar limit

Oregon

Under age 18 (or ages 18 and older if a dependent in a plan and enrolled in an accredited educational institution)

$4,000 total, every 36 months

Tennessee

Under age 24

$1,000 per ear, every 36 months

Texas

Ages 18 or younger

Every 36 months (no dollar limit stated)

Vermont

Not stated

Every 36 months (no dollar limit stated)

Virginia

18 years or younger

$1,500 per ear, every 24 months

Rhode Island

All ages

$1,500 per ear, every 36 months for ages 18 or younger

$700 per ear, every three years for ages 19 and older

Wisconsin

Age 18 or younger

Cost of hearing aid per ear, every 36 months

The average cost of hearing aids is $2,300 per ear with a cost range of $1,000 to $4,000.

FAQs

Does Medicare cover hearing tests?

Medicare Part B (medical insurance) may cover a diagnostic hearing test only if your doctor requires it as part of your medical treatment. Otherwise, hearing tests are generally not covered.

Are hearing aids covered by Medicare?

While Medicare Advantage offers hearing aid coverage, Original Medicare does not cover hearing aids.

Does Medi-Cal cover hearing aids?

Yes, Medi-Cal can pay up to $1,510 per person within the coverage period. Qualified pregnant women and beneficiaries younger than age 21 are exempt from the $1,510 coverage cap.

Does Medicaid cover hearing aids?

Your state’s Medicaid program may cover hearing aids and hearing services but coverage can vary by state, age and other factors. Consult your specific state’s Medicaid program to learn more about hearing aid coverage.

Does Medicare offer screenings?

Medicare Part B may cover the cost of diagnostic hearing screening but only if it was ordered by your physician. Without a physician's order, you will be responsible for the cost.

Key Takeaways

  • Hearing aids are not covered under Medicare but may be a benefit offered in Medicare Advantage plans (also called Medicare Part C).
  • New legislation has been proposed to include hearing aids and services as an Original Medicare benefit.
  • Many health insurance plans do not offer hearing benefits.
  • Over-the-counter hearing aids may become available in the near future and provide a cost-effective alternative to traditional hearing aids.

Buy a Medicare Advantage plan with hearing aid coverage. Don’t let the out-of-pocket cost of hearing aids stop you from listening to music, watching movies and hearing the voices of your loved ones. SmartFinancial can help you find the best plan based on your budget. Just enter your zip code below or call 855.214.2291 to receive your free Medicare Advantage quotes.

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