How To Save Money On Hearing Aids
Hearing aids are expensive, but there are several strategies that can help you save money.
For more information about benefits in your area, visit our Benefits CheckUp, check out our AgeWellPlanner for tools and resources to help you understand Medicare costs, or see our list of organizations that can help you pay for hearing aids and tests.You might also have other options to help pay for hearing aids, including private health insurance, flexible spending accounts, health savings accounts, or Veterans Administration benefits.
- Private health insurance: Depending on your plan, private insurance may cover hearing tests, evaluations, or costs of hearing aids. Check with your insurance provider for more details.
- Flexible spending accounts : If your employer offers an FSA, you can use pre-tax flexible spending money to offset your hearing aid costs.
- Health savings accounts : You can contribute to medical expenses, including hearing aids and items not covered by insurance, using an HSA.
- Veterans Administration benefits: If you are a U.S. military veteran and qualify for general VA health care, youre likely to be eligible for free premium hearing aids.10 Visit va.gov or your local VA clinic or medical center to check your eligibility.
Are Hearing Aids Covered By Medicare
No. Medicare is very clear about this on their website.
As they explain, Medicare doesn’t cover hearing aids or exams for fitting hearing aids. You pay 100% for hearing aids and exams. Some Medicare Advantage Plans offer extra benefits that Original Medicare doesnt cover – like vision, hearing, or dental. Contact the plan for more information.
The Best Inexpensive Hearing Aids
Many hearing aid companies on the market offer inexpensive and reliable hearing aids.
For example, in our best affordable hearing aids review, our Reviews Team chose MDHearing as Most Versatile Budget Hearing Aid, Audien as Most Affordable, and Audicus as Best Budget-Friendly Bluetooth.
For a wider selection of hearing aids at different price points, see our review of the best hearing aids on the market.
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Does Medicare Pay For Dentures
If denture or dental implant coverage is important you, then you should consider a Medicare Advantage plan as dental insurance for seniors.
Medicare Advantage plans provide Part A and Part B plus additional coverage like prescription drugs, vision, hearing, and dental health!
Most Medicare Advantage dental plans cover dentures and much more cleanings, x-rays, annual exams, fillings, pullings, and root canals.
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How Can I Find Medicare Plans That Cover Hearing Aids
If you want to shop for Medicare plans, you can use the Medicare Plan Compare site to get a sense of what plans are available in your area. When you do this, pay close attention to the Extra Benefits section. Here you will find the copays for the different hearing services.
As helpful as Medicare Plan Compare is as a first step, it does not include all the information you will need. What kinds of hearing aids are covered? What brands are covered? What are the plans limits on hearing services? You may then want to reach out to the plan directly or find an insurance broker in your area to find out more.
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Related: Spider Silk Could Help Build A Better Hearing Aid Heres How
Medicare would likely reimburse manufacturers at prices lower than they currently receive, as it does for other health care goods and services. The Department of Veterans Affairs has had success paying just $400 per hearing aid, about $2,000 less than the private market. Further research is needed into how the VA policy affects veterans access and health outcomes, as well as manufacturer contracts. This policy could go two ways: lower prices could slow innovation in hearing aid technology, or an expanded market could increase innovation because it raises potential revenue even at Medicare prices.
Medicare coverage for hearing aids could be structured in several ways. For example, The Commonwealth Fund proposes that Medicare beneficiaries pay a $25 monthly premium for bundled vision, hearing, and dental services. Others may recommend the services simply be added under the umbrella of Medicare Part B. Should Roybal-Allards bill pass, the regulations that emerge from it will greatly influence the laws impact on access.
The Eyes, Ears, and Teeth Act doesnt address Medicaid or private insurance coverage for hearing aids. But changes to Medicare coverage might prompt other types of insurance to reassess their own coverage of these necessary devices.
Why Doesnt Original Medicare Pay For Hearing Aids
Hearing aids aren’t covered by Medicare Parts A or B because when Medicare was established in 1965, hearing aids were specifically excluded from benefits via Section 1862 of Title XVIII of the Social Security Act.
However, when the law was written, hearing aid technology was still in development, and the first full digital wearable hearing aid wasn’t available until the 1980s.
Many more people wear hearing aids now than in previous decades, and since 1980, hearing aid sales have increased about sevenfold.
Today, one-third of adults over age 65 have hearing loss. However, Medicare legislation hasn’t caught up to consumer medical needs.
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Medicare Advantage Plans May Cover Hearing Aids
Now, back to hearing aids. Original Medicare wont cover these often-important hearing health devices, but there are Medicare Advantage plans and Medicare supplement insurance plans that do. Additionally, many Medicare Advantage plans will also pay for routine hearing-related exams and services.
What specific hearing health services and items are covered will vary by plan, so be sure to look carefully at the plans available in your area and to ask how coverage and costs work.
How Can Seniors Access Affordable Hearing Aids
According to the Presidents Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, the average cost of a hearing aid was $2,400 in 2015. This is the cost per ear, and the cost may have risen in the intervening years. The high cost means that many people who would benefit from hearing aids choose to go without. However, there are options for seniors looking for affordable hearing aids.
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What Hearing Coverage Does Medicare Advantage Offer
While most Medicare Advantage plans cover hearing aids and exams, that coverage can be limited and can vary significantly by plan.
Coverage capped. Most Medicare Advantage plans regulate the dollar amount or frequency of hearing aid purchases. In 2021, the average annual limit was $960, ranging from $66 to $4,000, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation study.
Typically, Medicare Advantage plans limit enrollees to one set of hearing aids a year, but more than a quarter of the plans restrict hearing aid coverage to one pair every two years. And 14 percent cover one set every three years, according to the Kaiser study.
Expect different copayments based on the level of digital technology often basic, standard, advanced and premium. Copays may start around $699 for an advanced level hearing aid and $999 for a premium level hearing aid. Because Medicare Advantage plans can have such a wide range of hearing coverage, its important to compare all plan options in your area.
How to check out plans. To find out more about a Medicare Advantage plans hearing aid coverage, type your zip code into the Medicare Plan Finder and click Medicare Advantage Plan under Plan Type for plans in your area. A green check mark notes plans that include hearing benefits.
For more information about the plans hearing coverage, click Plan Details and scroll down to Extra Benefits. Youll see copayments for hearing aids, exams, hearing aid fitting/evaluation services and other hearing benefits.
Medicare Part A And Part B
Medicare Part A covers home health services, hospice care, inpatient hospital care, nursing home care , and skilled nursing facility care. Medicare Part B covers limited outpatient prescription drugs, clinical research, necessary medical services, preventive services like flu immunizations or diabetes screenings, mental health , durable medical equipment, and ambulance services. Medicare Parts A and B do not cover hearing aids or related hearing exams, eyeglass exams, dental care, dentures, routine foot care, acupuncture, cosmetic surgery, or long-term care.
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Some Medicare Advantage Plans Cover Hearing Aids
Medicare Advantage Plans are health plans offered by private companies that contract with CMS. These plans provide the same benefits and coverage as Original Medicare and most include prescription drug coverage as well.
Added benefits like vision, dental and hearing are included in some Part C Plans. Medicare Advantage Plans that cover routine hearing tests and hearing aids may charge higher premiums. Its important to carefully compare all health insurance options to ensure you get the coverage that meets your needs and budget. Medicare provides an online tool that beneficiaries can use to find and compare different plans.
Changes to Medicare elections can be made during certain times called enrollment periods. Aside from the initial Medicare enrollment period, the annual Open Enrollment Period for Medicare Advantage and Prescription Drug Coverage is the most well known.
To determine if your Medicare Advantage Plan or other health insurance covers audiology services like hearing aids or cochlear implants, check with your individual plan. Most plans list a toll-free number for member services on their insurance cards.
Medicare Coverage And Hearing Aids
By Joy Victory, managing editor, Healthy HearingLast updated on:October 13th, 2022
Details on what Medicare will pay for when it comes to hearing aids, hearing tests and other hearing care.
Unfortunately, when it comes to vision, dental and hearing care, traditional Medicare doesn’t offer much coverage for older adults.
Check with your plan provider to see whatkind of hearing coverage you have, if any.
If you have supplemental insurance, however, it may pay for some or all of these services, depending on your plan.
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Democrats Plan To Expand Medicare Hearing Benefits What Can Consumers Expect
By Rachana PradhanNovember 5, 2021
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Alternative Options For Covering Hearing Aid Costs
If you are looking for an alternative method to cover hearing aid costs, there are a variety of options available.
The Veterans Administration
If your hearing loss is related to a condition you were treated for at a VA hospital, or if your loss of hearing is linked to your military service, you may be eligible for hearing aids through the VA.
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Are There Any Exceptions
Medicares Original Plan differs from the Medicare Advantage Plans .
However, they often add additional elements not present in the Original Plan. Some of these include coverage of hearing aids and hearing exams. These plans are offered through private companies and provide similar content to Medicare.
Medicare recommends contacting the plans provider to see whether or not your hearing-related services are covered.
What Medicare Advantage Plan Covers Hearing Aids
Only Medicare Advantage plans provide coverage for the cost of hearing aids. These plans are legally required to provide all the same coverage as Original Medicare and are free to offer additional benefits, says Worstell. Hearing aid coverage is a common extra benefit in these plans, along with coverage for dental, vision and prescription drugs, he adds.
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Getting Your Hearing Tested
Dont wait to address your hearing health as the guidance is sorted out. Get tested by an audiologist, take an online screening test, or visit a hearing center that has licensed hearing health providers. Find a hearing aids guide at hearingloss.org.
Take advantage of hearing aid discounts. Costco offers its own brand of hearing aids and other hearing services. Drugstore chain CVS has opened 32 hearing centers in seven states, with plans to expand this year, a company spokesperson says. Single device costs range from about $400 to $2,500. Try a high-tech device thats not a hearing aid. Hearing technology company Nuheara sells wireless earbuds that work with a smartphone app for about $300 a pair. Wearers can tune out background noise at restaurants, offices or outside and control how they hear the world around them, says company co-founder David Cannington.
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Medicare Supplement Plans And Hearing Aids
Unlike Medicare Advantage, Medicare Supplement plans do not provide additional benefits like hearing coverage. If you decide that a Medicare Advantage plan is not best for you and you currently have a Medicare Supplement plan, you can still buy hearing aid coverage separately.
Medicare Supplement plans pick up some of the left-over costs from Original Medicare, as Medicare Part A and Part B only cover 80% of Medicare-approved health costs. Basically, these plans alleviate the out-of-pocket costs for policyholders.
So, hearing aid coverage is not part of any Medicare Supplement plan. You must enroll in a stand-alone insurance plan to receive hearing benefits. This ancillary coverage will pair with your Original Medicare, Medicare Part D prescription drug plan, and Medigap policy.
Stand-alone policies are not uncommon for those with Medicare Supplement plans. Better known as dental, vision, and hearing plans, coverage for the three services is often combined into one plan with a single monthly premium.
Several insurance companies offer stand-alone plans, including some of the most popular Medicare Supplement plan carriers. Thus, enrollees can easily enroll in a stand-alone plan with the carrier of their choice.
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Who Is Eligible For Hearing Aids
Medicaid always covers children and young people under the age of 21 since prevention is the key to many ailments, including hearing loss. Adults and the elderly are subject to varying restrictions, which depend on the state.
These are the limitations in general:
- Hearing loss in the healthy ear must be greater than 30 dB.
- At frequencies, less than 2000 Hz, each ears hearing loss should be less than 30 dB.
- Patients must provide a written declaration proving that they are attentive, oriented, and capable of appropriately utilizing their hearing aid.
- Patients must be able to demonstrate a proven necessity for the hearing aid.
- Binaural hearing aids are required because the patient has substantial educational, vocational, or social responsibilities.
As is customary, each state will control the rules differently, and you may be required to cover some of the fees out of your own pocket. However, you can and will be covered for hearing aids in general.
What Do Hearing Aids Cost
The price for a pair of hearing aids typically ranges from around $1,000 for low-end models to as much as $8,000 for premium devices. This price tag may also include a consultation, hearing test, fitting and follow-up adjustments. Some sellers even include periodic cleanings, battery replacements and a warranty that provides future cleanings, fittings and protection against damage or loss.
Lowering your hearing aids costs can sometimes be as simple as speaking up. When purchasing hearing aids, ask what discounts are available. Veterans, union members and people with company retirement plans may have access to additional price breaks.
Those with mild hearing loss who are unable to afford hearing aids have the option of using personal sound amplification products instead, which usually cost under $500 for a set. These dont require a fitting or prescription, can sync with smartphones and are wearable right out of the box. These devices aren’t a replacement for a doctor’s care, though, and don’t address all aspects of hearing loss.
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Why Doesnt Medicare Cover Hearing Aids In 2022
Unfortunately, Original Medicare does not deem hearing aids medically necessary. Original Medicare does not provide coverage for hearing aids or hearing aid fittings. Thus, beneficiaries are responsible for 100% of these costs with Original Medicare.
In some cases, Medicare may cover hearing exams if your practitioner orders them in conjunction with another medical issue. For example, if your provider requests a diagnostic hearing and balance exams because you have a history of falling regularly, Medicare Part B medical coverage will provide coverage.
However, if you discover a hearing problem, Medicare will not pay for hearing aids. If you have Medicare and want to receive coverage for hearing aids, you must seek an additional policy.
What About Medicare Advantage
By law, Medicare Advantage must provide at least as much coverage as Original Medicare though it can come with additional costs and network restrictions. However, since Medicare Advantage is private insurance contracted through the federal government, the benefits of each individual policy are unique.
The good news is that many Medicare Advantage plans do cover hearing aids, although they may limit the maximum amount theyll pay and a deductible may also apply. Your initial hearing exam may even be free if you use an in-network doctor.
Copays for hearing aids vary dramatically among insurers, ranging anywhere from $0 to a few thousand dollars. For this reason, its important to examine and compare all available plans carefully before making your choice.
If you have Original Medicare and want to switch to Medicare Advantage, you can make the move during the annual Medicare Open Enrollment period from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7. During the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment period from Jan. 1 to March 31, you can switch from one Medicare Advantage plan to another.
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