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Hearing loss often occurs gradually as we age. This can lead to trouble hearing conversations, the TV, or even alarms or warnings. Hearing aids can help with hearing loss by making sounds in your environment louder to you.

While it’s estimated that hearing loss affects two-thirds of people over age 70, Medicare parts A and B doesn’t cover the cost of hearing aids.

Read on as we explore this topic and discuss the parts of Medicare that do cover hearing aids.

Let’s start by breaking down the different parts of Medicare and discussing the coverage as it relates to hearing aids.

Medicare Part A

Medicare Part A is hospital insurance. It covers services like inpatient hospital stays, care at a skilled nursing facility, and hospice care. Part A doesn’t cover hearing aids.

Medicare Part B

Medicare Part B covers things like doctor’s appointments and other outpatient services. It can also help pay for some services or items when they’re medically necessary as well as some types of preventive services.

Medicare Part B doesn’t cover the cost of a hearing aid or the exams that are needed for fitting one.

However, Medicare Part B does cover diagnostic hearing exams if your doctor orders them to help detect and diagnose a hearing problem. In this case, you’d pay 20 percent of the Medicare-approved cost.

A bill, HR 1518, has been introduced to Congress that could remove the exclusion of the coverage of hearing aids from original Medicare. However, it’s not known when or if these changes will be enacted.

Medicare Part C (Advantage plans)

Medicare Part C, or Medicare Advantage plans, are offered by private insurance companies approved by Medicare. These plans provide the benefits covered in parts A and B and may include additional coverage.

Additional coverage provided by Part C plans can include hearing benefits, which can include coverage of hearing aids. They may also cover things like vision, dental, and prescription drug coverage.

The cost and coverage provided by Part C can vary by each individual plan. Because of this, comparing plans before selecting one is very important.

Medicare Part D

Like Medicare Part C, Part D is offered by private insurance companies to cover the cost of prescription drugs. It doesn’t cover hearing aids.

Medigap

Medigap is also called supplement insurance. Medigap plans are provided by private companies and help to cover costs or services not covered by parts A and B. However, Medigap typically doesn’t cover hearing aids.

Hearing aids can be expensive. Costs can range between $1500 to a few thousand dollars. One study estimated that individuals needing a hearing aid for each ear could pay close to $6000.

Some Part C plans cover hearing aids. The cost you’ll need to pay out-of-pocket will depend on your individual plan.

Before getting your hearing aid, check with your plan on how much of the cost will be covered. You can then use this information along with the total cost of the hearing aid to help estimate your out-of-pocket cost.

Remember that getting a hearing aid doesn’t just include the cost of the device, but also includes exams and fittings. You may also want to ask about and include these in your cost estimate as well.

Original Medicare (parts A and B) doesn’t cover hearing aids. So what may be best for you if you know you’ll need a hearing aid in the coming year?

If you’re enrolling in Medicare and know you’ll need a hearing aid, you may want to look into a Part C plan. In addition to including the benefits of parts A and B, a Part C plan may also cover additional services like hearing, vision, and dental.

The costs and coverage included in a Part C plan can vary greatly by each individual plan. To illustrate this, we’ve provided several examples from four different cities below.

As you can see, many of these Part C plans include hearing coverage. However, you may also notice that there’s a lot of variation by plan, such as in factors like:

  • monthly premium
  • deductible
  • copayments and coinsurance
  • out-of-pocket maximum
  • amount of coverage or coverage limits for specific services or items

Because of these variations, it’s very important to carefully compare several Part C plans before selecting one. This can help you pick one that best suits both your health and financial needs.

Tips for helping a loved one enroll in Medicare

Will a loved one be enrolling in Medicare soon? Follow the tips below to help them enroll:

  • Do they need to sign up? People collecting Social Security benefits will be automatically enrolled in parts A and B when they’re eligible. Those who aren’t will need to sign up.
  • Know when open enrollment is. During this time, people may enroll in or make changes to their plans. Every year, the open enrollment period is from October 15 through December 7.
  • Talk with them about their needs. Every individual has different health-related needs. Be sure to discuss what these may be with your loved one as you get ready to select a plan.
  • Compare plans. If you’re considering enrolling in Medicare Part C or D, compare plans to make sure your loved one is getting the coverage they need.
  • Provide information. You may be asked to give information about your relationship to the person that you’re helping. Your loved one will need to sign the Medicare application themselves.

Hearing loss can have a variety of causes, but often occurs as we age. Hearing aids can help people with hearing loss.

Original Medicare (parts A and B) doesn’t cover hearing aids. However, some Medicare Part C plans may include coverage of hearing services, including hearing aids.

When enrolling in Medicare, it’s important to consider your individual health needs, such as if you’ll need a hearing aid in the future. If considering a Part C plan, compare multiple plans to ensure you get the coverage that’s right for you.