Kelly Blackwell is a Certified Senior Advisor (CSA)®. She has been a healthcare professional for over 30 years, with experience working as a bedside nurse and as a Clinical Manager. She has a passion for educating, assisting and advising seniors throughout the healthcare process.
Does Medicare cover hearing aids?
Original Medicare, that is, Part A (hospital insurance) and Part B (medical insurance) does not cover hearing aids or exams for fitting hearing aids. Medicare Advantage plans (Part C) provide for all medically necessary services from Parts A and B, plus extra benefits such as help with hearing aid costs.
Medicare coverage for hearing aids will come through a Medicare Advantage plan.
Medicare Advantage (MA) plans with hearing aid coverage allow for either a maximum dollar amount which you can apply toward the purchase of hearing aids, or will charge a copay if you purchase plan-approved hearing aids through their in-network provider. In any case, you must adhere to the plan rules that are detailed in the Evidence of Coverage (EOC) document associated with the plan you choose. The EOC tells you what your plan covers and how much you pay. Some MA plans charge an extra monthly premium for access to hearing aid benefits.
MA plans may require a physician referral or prior authorization for their in- network audiologist who will identify and measure your hearing loss to determine what type of hearing aid will best fit the type and severity of your hearing loss and also accommodate your lifestyle.
Hearing aids are most effective for hearing loss that is sensorineural, that is caused by changes in the inner ear and auditory nerve. Presbycusis, or age-related hearing loss, comes on gradually as a person grows older. This type of hearing loss tends to run in families, but can also be a result of disease or injury from noise or medicines. One in three people between the ages of 65 and 74 experience hearing loss, and about half of seniors over 75 do.
How much do hearing aids cost with Medicare?
With Original Medicare, you are responsible for 100% of the costs for hearing aids and exams. The average out-of-pocket cost without insurance for a pair of hearing aids is around $2,500, but can range from several hundred dollars to several thousand. If you need hearing aids, there are other ancillary costs to consider as well, such as batteries and money spent for on-going fittings and adjustments.
With a MA plan that has hearing aid coverage, you will be responsible for either a copay for their in-network hearing aids, or you will be given a maximum allowance that goes toward paying for hearing aids. MA plans have set maximum out-of-pocket costs; however, your cost sharing expenses for hearing aids do NOT count toward this limit. When you are considering your healthcare budget, know that hearing aid expenses will be in addition to your potential out-of-pocket expenses for your medical care.
Hearing aid costs vary widely depending on the type and severity of hearing loss. Most often, hearing aid coverage that is available through MA plans is helpful, but limited in scope and choice of providers. Most MA plans offer “some coverage” versus comprehensive coverage for hearing benefits including hearing exams and hearing aid fittings, plus a limited number of hearing aid adjustments.
It is important to consider the intangible costs of hearing aids, too. Being able to hear is a quality-of-life issue for most of us. Just as some hearing loss can be a normal part of aging, it is common to experience grief and depression along with it. Hearing aids amplify sounds, but they cannot restore normal hearing. In order to find the best hearing aid for you, you will need to strike a balance between what is available from your insurance plan, what you can afford, and how compromised hearing affects the quality of your life.
For examples of hearing aid costs through MA companies, see the comparison chart below.
Which Medicare plans cover hearing aids?
Medicare Advantage plans, as an alternative to Original Medicare, are administered by private insurance companies. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 88% of Medicare Advantage plans in the United States offer some hearing aid coverage.
Availability of MA plans varies depending on where you live. Some parts of the country have more options than others, but you should be able to find at least one plan in your area that helps with hearing aids. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation’s review of MA plans available in the United States in 2020, the three largest companies with MA plans were Humana, United HealthCare, and BCBS affiliates. There are other companies with MA plans that may be available in your area. These will come up for your review when you search for plans.
As an example, here is a comparison of HMO plans including the three largest companies and two others that are available in the Jefferson County, Denver, Colorado area. They all have $0 medical monthly premiums. You must stay in network, and prior authorizations and referrals may apply. Hearing aid benefit information is based on each plan’s 2021 EOC.
|Insurance company||Hearing aid benefit|
|UnitedHealthCare||Two hearing aids every two years. Your copay ranges from $375/aid for UHC brand Relate Basic to $2,075/aid copay for Premium level name brand.|
|Humana||You pay $699 per Advanced Aid or $999 per Premium Aid. One aid/ear/year. (must use TruHearing provider and aids)|
|Blue Cross Blue Shield/Anthem||$500 max allowance for hearing aids every year through their hearing aid supplier|
|CVS Health/Aetna||Up to $1,250/ear/year allowance through NationsHearing|
|Kaiser Permanente (hearing aids avail with Advantage Plus plan)||$500 allowance per ear every three years. $1000 allowance if you buy both Advantage Plus plans. ($14 – $35/monthly premium)|
Which Medicare plans should you select if you know you need hearing aids?
You should select a Medicare Advantage plan available in your area that includes extra benefits for hearing if you know you need hearing aids. If you don’t have hearing aids yet, but you anticipate needing them based on your family history, you should consider MA plans with hearing aid benefits.
If you are already working with a professional for your hearing and hearing aids, it’s a good idea to check with your provider to see which MA plans include them in their network.
If you already have a MA plan with hearing aid benefits, consider making an appointment with their in-network audiologist to conduct a screening or exam to determine if you have hearing loss and whether or not it could be helped by hearing aids.
Search for plans here. You will input your zip code to begin the search for Medicare plans that are offered in your area.
- Select Medicare Advantage plans to find plans with hearing aid coverage.
- Take the time to compare plan benefits and providers.
- Contact the plan to discuss details
- Review the EOC document that is associated with each plan. You can find this by clicking on Plan Details, then scrolling to find the EOC. One more click, and you should be able to view the EOC. Refer to the table of contents to find the details about hearing benefits.
Learn More From Our Sources
- Kaiser Family Foundation | Medicare Advantage Plans Overview | Last accessed June 2021
- Kaiser Family Foundation | Largest Medicare Advantage Companies | Last accessed June 2021
- National Institute for Health | Helpful Information About Hearing Aids | Last accessed June 2021
- Humana HMO | Evidence of Coverage | Last accessed June 2021
- United Health Care AARP HMO | Evidence of Coverage | Last accessed June 2021
- Anthem BCBS HMO | Evidence of Coverage | Last accessed June 2021
- Kaiser Permanente Senior Advantage Core HMO | Evidence of Coverage | Last accessed June 2021
- CVS Health/Aetna HMO | Evidence of Coverage | Last accessed June 2021