Unfortunately, hearing loss is such a common issue among older adults, with one-third of people over 65 and half of those over 75 experiencing this condition. While hearing aids are often the go-to solution, they can be expensive and are not covered by regular Medicare. This means that many seniors who rely on Medicare are unable to afford hearing aids, with an estimated three-quarters of those in need going without.
It wasn’t always this way – prescription hearing aids used to be the only option available, but they come with a hefty price tag and require an audiologist evaluation, testing, and fitting. Sadly, even those who require hearing aids and have Medicare coverage are often left without, as traditional Medicare does not cover the cost of these devices.
Who requires a hearing aid?
Hearing aids can help a lot of people who have mild to severe hearing loss. However, because patients sometimes wait seven years after hearing loss first appears before seeking treatment, usage rates do not correspond to need. An audiologist should be consulted if you have any hearing issues, even with hearing aids, to identify the best course of action. All types of losses can be treated with the choices available today, including new over-the-counter gadgets.
What health effects can hearing loss have?
More than just hearing, hearing loss impairs communication, which is important for social and mental health. Hearing impairment exacerbates loneliness and is associated with worsening mental and physical health. Aid use may lower the risk of dementia. Given the prevalence of age-related loss, it’s crucial to comprehend the Medicare coverage alternatives.
What is covered by Medicare?
Hearing tests prescribed by doctors are covered by traditional Medicare, but hearing aids themselves are not. While alternatives vary depending on the plan and insurer, some Medicare Advantage plans do offer assistance coverage. Formularies, copay/coinsurance schemes, and permitted budgets all have different coverage features. Additionally, federal employees and veterans may be eligible.
Aids are not covered by Medicare Supplement policies either. New over-the-counter devices offer a reasonable alternative for mild-moderate losses, however, Medicare still does not cover these. Before making a choice, prospective customers should think about the tools offered by different manufacturers, functionality, and return policies.
What Medicare plans cover the cost of hearing aids?
Medicare Advantage plans (Part C) are the only plans that offer coverage for hearing aids. These plans are required to provide all the same coverage as Original Medicare. They may include additional benefits, such as hearing aid coverage, dental, vision, and prescription drugs, according to Worstell. The coverage for hearing aids may vary depending on the plan and provider.
Medicare Advantage plans may cover the cost of hearing tests, hearing aids, and their fitting process, as well as maintenance and repairs. Some plans may use a copayment or coinsurance structure to cover the cost of the hearing aids, while others may allocate an allowance for the plan member to spend on their hearing aids.
Although not all Medicare Advantage plans provide hearing coverage, you must check with your Medicare advisor to receive the benefits you need. Before making a decision, it’s also important to understand how hearing aids are covered and the coverage limits because costs may differ based on the type of hearing aids you prefer.
What is the price of hearing aids without insurance?
Depending on the design, model, and features offered, hearing aids can cost as much as $2,000 per aid without the financial assistance of insurance or other services. From wholesalers like Costco, the most affordable hearing aids can cost as little as $700, while more expensive hearing aids, including those with Bluetooth connectivity, can cost as much as $3,000 each. The majority of hearing aid costs are bundled to include audiology services, which can include fittings and repairs. This is particularly crucial to keep in mind. These services can be unbundled to save upfront expenses.
Cost-sharing and copayments
You may be required to pay a co-pay, which is a percentage of the hearing aids’ cost, under some plans. For a basic hearing aid, the co-pay can be as little as a few hundred dollars or as much as $2,000 for more recent, top-of-the-line hearing devices.
Instead, other plans will provide a maximum payment for hearing aids. If paying for hearing aids is crucial to you, carefully consider your plan since this fee might range from $500 to more than $2,500.
If you select a hearing aid for these types of plans that is less than the maximum amount your Medicare plan will cover, you pay nothing. You are responsible for paying the difference if you select a more expensive hearing aid.
It’s crucial to comprehend the specifics of the Medicare Advantage plan you choose before enrolling because every Medicare Advantage plan is unique. If you’re wondering, “How can I contact Medicare by phone?” or you need assistance with your Medicare coverage, you can reach out to them by calling 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227). Additionally, there is a TeleType number available at 1-877-486-2048.
Where else can I find hearing aid discounts?
There are other ways to save money on hearing aids, such as hearing discount programs. You could also consider shopping around, enrolling in a discount program, or requesting assistance from a charity organization. Medigap insurance offers hearing care discount programs too.
Another option is to lease or subscribe to hearing aids, which allows you to pay a small monthly fee instead of a large sum upfront.
You can also check with your local resources for hearing aid financial assistance. Your hearing expert can point you towards hearing aid programs in your area. The Lions Clubs and Kiwanis Clubs are both known for their extensive hearing aid programs. Don’t hesitate to call your region for more information.
Questions to consider before purchasing hearing aids
Before making a purchase choice, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advises requesting the following information from a hearing healthcare professional:
- What kind of hearing aids will most effectively fit my way of life?
- What considerations should I take into account when selecting hearing aids?
- Where can I purchase hearing aids?
- Do I need to undergo a physical examination first? If not, why not?
- What number of hearing aids do I need? two or one?
- Do the hearing aids come with a trial period?
- How should I look after my hearing aids?
- How will I know if my new hearing aids are effective?
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