If conversations are sounding muffled and unclear to you lately, you aren’t alone. In the U.S., one out of every three people between 65 and 74 experience diminished hearing. Hearing loss at this age is typically due to aging, illness, or injury.
Your hearing loss might not be a direct threat to your physical health, but it can affect your mental health and quality of life. Many seniors say that they feel isolated, depressed, and have lower self-esteem due to hearing loss.
Although you can’t reverse age-related hearing loss, you can improve it by wearing hearing aids. These days, hearing aids come in different types and styles, and they fit snugly in the ear, without being noticeable.
If you think hearing aids would increase your quality of life, you may be interested in whether your Medicare insurance covers them. While Original Medicare doesn’t include coverage for hearing aids, many Medicare Advantage plans do. Here’s a look at how your coverage can help you with hearing care expenses.
What hearing care services does Medicare Part B cover?
If you have Original Medicare Part A (hospital insurance) and Part B (medical insurance), you don’t have coverage for most hearing care services or hearing aids. However, Medicare Part B covers a portion of the cost for diagnostic hearing exams that are ordered by a health care provider who accepts Medicare assignment when they are necessary to detect and diagnose hearing problems.
For these diagnostic hearing exams, Medicare Part B pays for 80 percent of the final approved cost. Beneficiaries are responsible for paying the remaining 20 percent after covering their annual Part B deductible.
Do Medicare Advantage plans cover hearing aids?
Medicare Advantage (Part C) plans are an alternative way to get your Medicare coverage. They are sold by Medicare-affiliated private insurance companies, and they are required by federal law to provide at least the same coverage as Original Medicare Parts A and B. The insurers selling them also have the option to include additional benefits like vision, dental, fitness club membership, and hearing care services.
Because Medicare insurance providers recognize the importance of having hearing care services (including hearing aids) for their senior beneficiaries, more and more Medicare Advantage plans are including them in their extra benefits package these days.
As mentioned above, these extra benefits are optional, and providers don’t have to include them. If you want to find a Medicare Advantage plan that covers hearing care and hearing aids, you should look for one that does within your service area.
What hearing care services are included in Medicare Advantage plans?
Your exact coverage depends on the plan you have. Typically, the hearing care benefits included in most Part C plans are the following:
- Routine hearing tests and examinations up to your plan’s annual limits.
- Hearing aids. Your plan may offer specific types or styles, so make sure you know the restrictions.
- Fitting appointments for hearing aids up to your plan’s annual limits.
- Hearing aid maintenance according to plan limits.
- Follow-up exams for your hearing aids for a set number of times during the year.
- Adjustments to hearing aids
- Hearing aid cleaning, your plan may have annual limits.
How much do hearing aids cost with Medicare Advantage coverage?
Depending on the type of hearing aids you get and where you purchase them, without Medicare coverage they can cost up to $8,000.00 per pair.
Your final out-of-pocket cost depends on your individual Medicare Part C plan. If your plan has a $0 copay, you won’t have to pay anything for your hearing aids if you’ve already met your annual deductible. However, some Part C plans have a set dollar amount for what they allow for hearing aid coverage.
It’s also important to note that your Medicare Advantage plan may require that you use health care providers and medical suppliers that are included in the plan’s set network of providers. In some instances, if you go outside the network, you may not get this benefit.
If you aren’t sure about your plan’s allowances for hearing aids or which providers you can use, make sure you discuss your concerns with a plan representative before you make any appointments.