As you get older, you start to think about your health in new ways. Things you never were too concerned about before now become a top priority. One of these things is hearing. Hearing loss is a common and sometimes frightening development that takes place as you age. Does Medicare Cover Hearing Aids?
Causes of Hearing Loss
A variety of circumstances can cause hearing loss. External causes, like long-term exposure to noise pollution, are common. Internal causes, such as genetics or illness, can also play a major role in hearing loss.
Do You Need Your Hearing Tested?
If you have noticed that you are having trouble hearing, you may need a hearing test. Sometimes, symptoms can come on very gradually, so it’s difficult to be sure. If you notice that you are asking people to repeat themselves, or that people seem frustrated that you can’t hear them, this can be an indicator before you even notice yourself. Also look for symptoms such as ringing or feeling like your ears are plugged. Keep in mind that, even if you show no symptoms now, as you age you will likely need a hearing exam at some point in your life.
Where to Buy Hearing Aids
Typically, hearing aids need to be prescribed by a doctor and can be very expensive. Thanks to the Over the Counter Hearing Aid Act of 2017, hearing aids will soon be able to be bought over the counter at a more affordable price. These hearing aids are for people with mild to moderate hearing loss. The goal is to make the market more competitive so that costs for hearing aids everywhere reduce.
Until this happens, and as hearing issues progress, you will still unfortunately be paying a high cost for hearing aids if you don’t have the right coverage.
Understanding Medicare Coverage for Hearing
It is important to understand fully what you are covered for when it comes to hearing as you age. As with most Medicare coverage, Medicare covers services that they find medically necessary.
Diagnostic Hearing Exams
Routine hearing exams are not covered under Medicare. Under Medicare Part B, diagnostic hearing and balance exams can be covered if ordered by your health care provider to determine whether you need medical treatment. One example of this would be testing for the cause of vertigo or dizziness. Under these circumstances, you are still partially financially responsible. If the test is done in a hospital, the hospital copayment will be due. If the test is done outside of a hospital, the Medicare 20% coinsurance applies. Medicare supplement plans are available which will pick up these costs.
Medicare Coverage for Hearing Aids
One of the most common things people wonder about as they start to approach age 65 is Medicare coverage for hearing aids. This is because hearing aids can be very pricey. Not only are the actual hearing aids themselves costly, but the tests and exams required to determine need of the hearing aids!
Medicare does not cover hearing aids, routine hearing exams, or the exams for fitting hearing aids. This leaves a big hole in your health coverage should you just accept this fact. Fortunately, there are alternatives and supplements to Medicare insurance. However, not all of these will provide you with the coverage you need, either. Here is a breakdown of different plans you may have heard of and what hearing services they do – and don’t- cover.
You may have heard of Medigap before. It is also commonly known as Medicare Supplement insurance. This is private insurance that supplements Medicare A and B. Many people use these plans to assist with medical out-of-pocket costs. It is important to remember that Medigap doesn’t pay for services not covered by Medicare. Instead, it pays for remaining costs that would typically be out-of-pocket for the patient.
There are ten different types of Medigap plans, and each has different benefits. None of them cover hearing aids.
These plans can still help you with hearing service costs. For Medicare Part B covered diagnostic hearing tests, Medigap will pay the 20% coinsurance. Some plans, such as Plan C and Plan F, will pay the deductible as well.
Medicare Advantage is another option you may have heard of, and is also privately issued. It is also referred to as Medicare Part C. It provides the same benefits as Medicare Parts A and B, and in some cases additional benefits. With certain plans, hearing exams may be covered, but hearing aids are typically not covered by Medicare Advantage.
Help with Costs and Expanding Your Coverage
If you are looking to reduce your costs when it comes to hearing services, there are a few things you can do. Enrolling in a Medigap plan will help you cover out of pocket costs when it comes to doctor-ordered diagnostic hearing tests.
You can also expand your Medicare coverage by adding specialized Dental, Vision, and Hearing plans to your Medicare plan. These plans are affordable and can cover your routine hearing tests. They even sometimes cover hearing aids.
To find out what type of coverage is best for you, compare rates and plans here. You will find an easy-to-follow system and help from qualified individuals who can help guide you to the right plan.
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