Did you know that there are 9 million senior citizens in the United States that are affected by hearing loss? The number grows significantly each year. This leads us to the question whether or not Medicare, as the largest publicly provided health insurance program in the country, covers the cost of hearing aids.
The short and quick answer to that is no. Medicare Parts A & B, also considered as the original Medicare, does not cover hearing aids. Nor does it cover hearing exams and hearing aid fittings.
However, this could change soon. A government bill is currently under consideration to add hearing aid to Medicare coverage.
The HR 3 bill passed by the Congress in 2019 enables the government to negotiate prescription drug costs. If this bill gets passed by the Senate, there will be coverage for hearing care including hearing aids.
The keyword there is “if” the Senate passes this bill. There are plenty of legislators and advocacy groups who are moving in a positive direction with regards to hearing aids. As for Medicare, it is still unclear whether or not they will change its policies in the next few years.
Hearing Aid Costs
According to the National Institutes of Health, the average price for a pair of digital hearing aids can cost you around $1500. There are also other options available for high-end devices, but these can cost you up to $5,000.
Medicare Hearing Aids
While the original Medicare doesn’t cover hearing aid devices, Medicare Part B does cover diagnostic hearing and balancing exams. This option is only available if a provider orders these tests to check if a specific patient requires medical treatment for a condition other than hearing loss.
For instance, the hearing and balancing tests may be covered by Medicare if it is used to diagnose the cause of different illnesses such as vertigo or dizziness. On the other hand, those who have a Medicare Advantage plan may have coverage for hearing services or supplies. You need to check with your insurance provider regarding this.
If you have a Medicare Supplement plan, or Medigap, it is also important to know that this doesn’t have hearing-aid coverage. However, if you are veteran, there is another option if you are looking for help in paying for hearing aids.
The Department of Veterans Affairs or VA helps those who are qualified for VA health benefits for hearing testing. They also offer paid-in-full hearing aids. There are also other options such as Help America Hear, Sertoma, the Hearing Industries Association who offers citizens help in paying for hearing aids and tests.