Does Medicare cover hearing aids? That’s a question we are frequently asked by seniors and their loved ones. The answer is not definitive; it depends on the state in which you live, the type of Medicare program you have, and any supplemental health insurance.
If You’re Hearing Impaired and on Medicare, Financial Aid Can Help
Only three states at this time – Arkansas, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire – mandate full non-Medicare insurance coverage for hearing aids for adults. Hearing aids for Texas Medicare residents are not covered, but there are other hearing-related services open to you that can save you money. Some are even free. Also, laws are always changing, so more financial help may become available at any time.
Medicare Part B (that’s the part of Medicare that covers services and supplies needed to diagnose or treat your condition and services to prevent illness) covers the cost of exams to diagnose your hearing and balance problems – just not the actual hearing exams or exams for fitting hearing aids. Your doctor or other health care provider can order the tests to see if you need medical treatment. Some of these diagnostic tests may have deductibles or co-pays, depending on the type of Medicare and/or other insurance you have.
Supplemental Medicare programs, which are separate individual policies through private companies, may pick up the tab for hearing aids, give you an allowance, or have negotiated discounts with contracted providers to help defray some of the cost. So check with your supplemental insurance provider, if you have one, to see if you qualify for any benefits.
What Questions to Ask
Ask specific questions before you decide if and what hearing aid to purchase, such as:
- What is the health plan benefit for hearing aids?
- Do I have to use specific providers? If so, are there providers in my area?
- How does the provider get reimbursed? Does the health plan pay the provider directly or do I pay and get reimbursed?
- Am I limited to specific hearing aid models or technology?
- What other stipulations are there for coverage, if any? Must I have a certain degree of hearing loss to qualify?
Other Hearing Assistance
Financial assistance may be available through other sources. It’s worth pursuing. AARP may offer a hearing care program for members involving savings on aids or other hearing healthcare products.
Our hearing care professionals here at Acuity may also be able to guide your search and tell you about any special programs of which we are aware.
The good news is that selected aids – other than hearing aids themselves – to help those hard of hearing – are no charge through the Texas Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services (DARS). DARS provides vouchers for telephones through their Specialized Telecommunications Assistance Program (STAP). Texans with disabilities that interfere with their ability to use a telephone can receive free specialized equipment such as a captioned phone or phones with amplified sound with a hearing specialist referral.
STAP has registered vendors throughout Texas, including ones in Fort Worth, Keller, and Paris, where Acuity Hearing Centers are located. Vendors will also install the phone free. You just pay the cost of a landline and – if it’s a captioned phone – high-speed internet service.
No one wants to live with communication barriers that keep us in isolation, limiting our precious exchanges with friends, family and others with whom we live, socialize, and work. Start the conversation about hearing aids now with the people and organizations set up to help.