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Medicare and Hearing Aids: How Not to Break the Bank

By Jagger Esch June 25, 2022 Health and Fitness

Original Medicare consists of two parts: Medicare Part A and Part B. Medicare Part A covers inpatient hospital benefits, and Medicare Part B covers outpatient doctors’ benefits and durable medical equipment.

While hearing aids are an essential medical device for many seniors, without proper coverage, they can become a financial burden with hefty out-of-pocket costs. Unfortunately, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) does not deem hearing aids a medical necessity. Therefore, Original Medicare does not provide hearing aid coverage.

Still, being on Medicare will not prevent you from obtaining coverage for hearing aids to pair with the benefits you paid into for years. Knowledge is power, and being aware of your options is the first step to taking charge of your hearing health.

If Original Medicare Doesn’t Cover Hearing Aids, Who Will?

It is no secret that your hearing begins to deteriorate as we age. So, the older we get, the more likely we will require hearing aids. In fact, nearly half of all Medicare beneficiaries report having difficulty hearing, and only 30% of those affected receive the care they need.

If you have Original Medicare benefits and wish to receive hearing coverage as well, you have two main options:

  • Sign up for a Medicare Advantage plan with hearing benefits, or
  • Pick up a stand-alone hearing insurance plan (often paired with vision and dental).

Either option can help you receive the coverage necessary to help with the cost of hearing aids. However, it is essential to understand the health coverage benefits of a Medicare Advantage plan before enrolling. It is not wise to base your health plan enrollment solely on ancillary coverage.

Medicare Advantage Plans and Hearing Aids

Before youenroll in a Medicare Advantage plan to receive hearing aid coverage, you will need to ensure the plan covers this benefit. Not every Medicare Advantage plan offers hearing aid coverage.

Additionally, you should confirm that a reputable provider in your area will accept your plan’s hearing benefits. Often, Medicare Advantage plans have network restrictions, and only specific providers will accept the coverage.

If you find a Medicare Advantage plan in your service area offering hearing aid coverage, your next step is to review the coverage limits. Often, hearing benefits will only cover up to a certain amount after you reach the initial deductible. You will be responsible for covering the remainder out-of-pocket if there is still a left-over balance.

Further, many plans involve a waiting period before you can utilize your benefits. So, it is vital to understand your plan’s terms before enrolling, especially if you want to use the benefits immediately.

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.

Before choosing a carrier, you should compare all the plan options in your area. Unlike Medicare Supplement plans, these plans are not standardized. This means carriers can create their terms, coverage limits, and costs. You will want to find the best plan that offers the highest coverage level for your needs, and the physician of your choice will accept.

How to Use Hearing Aid Benefits

Once you enroll in the best hearing coverage plan for you, it is essential to understand how to utilize the benefits. Not every physician will accept all plans. So, finding a provider who takes your coverage is a must.

Often, carriers will offer you out-of-network coverage at a slightly higher cost. So, in some cases, you may receive coverage for your chosen physician with a higher copayment. This is important to consider, so you are not blindsided by unexpected costs.

Lastly, ensure that the hearing aids you purchase align with your plan’s benefits. For example, if your policy only covers up to $2,000 and your hearing aids cost $6,000, you must pay the remaining out-of-pocket costs. So, understanding your plan benefits is essential when choosing your device.

Keeping health costs as low as possible is crucial – especially when you are retired or living on a fixed income. Hopefully, you find this information helpful when searching for hearing aid coverage to pair with your Medicare.

Do you have hearing problems? Have you found an insurance plan that covers doctor’s visits and hearing aids? What kind of research did you do in order to find the best plan for you?

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The Author

Jagger Esch is a Medicare expert and the founder, president, and CEO of MedicareFAQ. He has been working in the Medicare space for over 10 years. Jagger has a passion for sharing his expertise on Medicare to beneficiaries so they can be better prepared for health care costs after retirement. His YouTube channel features various videos that help Medicare beneficiaries discover all their options.

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