Medicare Hearing Aids CoverageAugust 19, 2019
Hearing aids can turn your entire life around, but you may need a private Medicare plan to be able to afford it. Original Medicare (Part A and Part B) will only cover hearing tests under limited circumstances. That means no ear treatments, no hearing aids, or anything else.
Not every Medicare-eligible person needs ear treatments, which is why Medicare does not consider it an “essential benefit”.
Does Medicare Cover Hearing Aids Costs?
Hearing aids can cost anywhere from $400 per ear to $4,000 or more per ear. Even if the initial device is not too expensive, you’ll have to remember that you’ll need to pay the costs of a hearing aid fitting, hearing aid exams, cleanings, and replacement hearing aids every five years or so.
Some providers may offer free cleanings and fittings with your hearing aid. When you add everything together, you could be paying thousands upon thousands over your lifetime for your ear care. Luckily, there is a solution that can help you out financially.
You may be able to get cheaper hearing aids by ordering online. However, by ordering a hearing aid online, you miss out on the doctor consultation and fitting.
Even if you think you don’t need the doctor consultation, remember that an experienced doctor can give you the medical advice you need to determine what kind of hearing aid you need and help you get the right fit.
Does Medicare Cover Hearing Tests?
Medicare Advantage Plans that Cover Hearing Aids
The easiest way to get Medicare coverage for audiology appointments, treatments, hearing aids is to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan. While some separate hearing benefit plans are available, it’s often not as cost-effective.
Medicare Advantage is a plan offered by private insurers that covers hospital visits, doctor visits, and other benefits like prescription drugs, vision, dental, and hearing.
Every year, you have the chance to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan between October 15 and December 7. You should start thinking about your needs now so you can be ready to switch in the fall!
Not all Medicare Advantage plans cover hearing benefits, so make sure you read everything carefully before you buy. Some plans will require that you buy a hearing aid from a specific provider.
Senior Hearing Loss: An Epidemic
Hearing loss affects more than just your hearing. Your hearing is directly connected to your sense of balance, so hearing loss can lead to more trips and falls, leading to higher medical bills.
Additionally, people who experience hearing loss or more likely to also experience high blood pressure, depression, and even dementia. Hearing aids can reduce all of these symptoms and side effects.
Signs of Hearing Loss
Some signs of hearing loss might include:
- Trouble focusing on a person’s speech, especially when there is background noise
- Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
- Finding yourself constantly raising the volume on your television or radio
- Having a harder time hearing extremely high or extremely low pitches
- Missing certain consonant sounds like “sh,” “th,” and “p.”
- Leaving your car’s turn signal on because you don’t hear it
- Not hearing your alarm clock in the morning
Hearing Loss Prevention
Some hearing loss prevention is purely the result of old age, but there are certain ways you can prevent the development of this ailment. The best way is to avoid circumstances where you will be surrounded by loud noises. Wear earplugs when attending concerts or events with big crowds, pay attention to the volume on your radio and TV, don’t sit too close to the speakers, etc.
You should also be sure to attend your yearly wellness exams. Your doctor may or may not check your hearing during these appointments (you may face an extra co-payment for audiology). Medicare Advantage plans often including a hearing benefit so that you can get coverage for regular hearing exams.
About Medicare Hearing Aids
While hearing aids can’t give a deaf person the ability to hear, they can help people with minimal to moderate hearing loss regain some hearing ability. Hearing aids effectively make sounds louder. There are a handful of ways to lose hearing ability, but hearing aids help those who have sensory cell damage in the inner ear.
Types of Hearing Aids
Medicare Hearing aids can work in two different ways: analog and digital. Analog hearing aids convert sound waves into amplified electrical signals. Digital hearing aids convert sound waves into numerical codes, then amplify them.
There are six different types of analog and digital hearing aids: IIC, CIC, ITC, ITE, RIC, and BTE. Your doctor may recommend one type over another based on your specific hearing needs and your budget.
- IIC (Invisible n Canal) – Fitted for your ear canal and invisible when worn. For mild to moderate hearing loss.
- CIC (Completely in Canal) – Fitted for your ear canal, small handle may be visible; for mild to moderate hearing loss
- ITC (In the Canal) – Fitted to your ear canal, small portion will show; for mild to mildly severe hearing loss
- ITE (In the Ear) – Fitted to your outer ear; for mild to severe hearing loss
- RIC (Reciever in Canal) – Barely visible, open and comfortable fit; uses electrical wires (as opposed to a plastic tube). For mild to moderate hearing loss
- BTE (Behind the Ear) – Fitted behind the ear, directs sound into a mold inside the ear; for moderate to severe hearing loss
Best Hearing Aids on the Market
Your doctor may recommend one hearing aid brand over another, and we recommend listening to your doctor’s opinion. However, we can tell you that some of the most highly-rated hearing aid brands are Resound, Phonak, Starkey, Widex, and Oticon.
If you’re getting coverage for your hearing aid from a Medicare Advantage plan, be careful. Your plan may require that you select from specific Medicare hearing aids. You should also consider that some hearing aid companies will offer trial periods.
Get Your Medicare Hearing Aids
Before you select and purchase a hearing aid, be sure to speak to a Medicare agent about finding coverage for your ear care. We recommend Medicare Advantage for most seniors and other Medicare-eligible people with hearing deficiencies.
Most people who are eligible for Medicare are eligible for several different Medicare Advantage plans. Our agents are licensed to sell most of those plans and can help you select the best one for your needs. To set up your free appointment, send us a note or call us at 844-431-1832.
*This post was originally published on February 22, 2018, and updated on August 19, 2019.