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Hearing aids are expensive. For most people, a typical pair of hearing aids can range from just under $2,000 to as much as $10,000 or more.
Unfortunately, Medicare’s approach to hearing aids isn’t straightforward.
Here are the five most important things to know if you or a loved one on Medicare need hearing aids:
1. Traditional Medicare covers hearing examinations, but not hearing aids.
Traditional Medicare does cover hearing and balance examinations that are ordered by a doctor or healthcare provider.
But, Traditional Medicare does not cover hearing aids. This means that people with Part A and Part B alone -- or a Medicare Supplement plan -- receive no coverage for hearing aids.
2. Some Medicare Advantage plans do help cover hearing aids.
Medicare Advantage plans, also known as Part C plans, are a way to receive your Medicare benefits through a private insurance company. Unlike Traditional Medicare, many Medicare Advantage plans do help to cover supplementary benefits like hearing aids.
3. Medicare Advantage plans can help you save big on hearing aids, but typically won’t cover the full cost.
While the retail price of hearing aids can sometimes be more than $4,000 per hearing aid, Medicare Advantage plans can help to significantly cover this cost.
How? Medicare Advantage plans negotiate pre-set rates with particular hearing providers where you purchase your hearing aids. They pass much of the savings along to you.
Some plans require that you pay a portion of the cost of hearing aids, called a co-pay. The co-pay can be as low as a few hundred dollars for a standard hearing aid or as much as ~$2,000 for newer, top-of-the line hearing aids.
Other plans will instead offer to pay a maximum amount for hearing aids. This amount can range widely from ~$500 to more than $2,500 so it’s important to choose your plan carefully.
For plans like this, if you choose a hearing aid under the maximum allowed amount, you don’t pay anything. If you choose a more expensive hearing aid, you are responsible for the difference.
4. Most Medicare Advantage plans require you to buy hearing aids from a specific partner, but some don’t.
Because Medicare Advantage plans have pre-negotiated rates with hearing aid providers, many plans require you to purchase from their partner providers. When you do, you receive the most affordable prices.
But this isn’t always a requirement. Some plans will help to pay for hearing aids that you purchase from another provider. These plans provide “out-of-network” hearing coverage, and typically require you to pay a co-insurance of 30-50% of the cost of the hearing aids.
5. If you consider a Medicare Advantage plan, don’t forget about the other important considerations.
If you or a loved one consider a Medicare Advantage plan to help cover hearing aids, it’s important to choose a plan based on all of its benefits, not just the hearing benefit.
For example, you will also want to check that your preferred doctors are in-network, any prescriptions are covered, and that the plan provides other supplementary benefits that may also be important to you, like dental benefits, vision coverage, and fitness memberships.
And it’s equally important to remember the enrollment windows for Medicare Advantage plans.
If you are enrolling in Medicare because you are retiring and leaving your employer-sponsored coverage, you can typically choose to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan when you first enroll in Medicare, although you might also want to consider Medigap options as well.
If you already have Medicare, you can enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan or change your current plan each year between October 15 and Dec 7. Or you can always give us a call to see if your current plan helps to provide coverage for hearing.
And if you have any questions about your situation, you can always reach out to us. We help people search every day for plans that meet not only their hearing needs, but also help to provide for the other benefits and coverage that are important.
Chapter Medicare advice comes at no cost to you (ever).
If would like a free personal consult you can schedule a call with us using by clicking here. Or you can call us directly at (605) 205-8869.