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Private health insurers do not typically include benefits for hearing aids in their plans. However, some companies offer coverage as an add-on, which means a person may receive a hearing aid benefit for an extra monthly fee.
Hearing loss can be more common in older adults, who usually have Medicare coverage. While original Medicare does not provide hearing care benefits, specific Medicare Advantage plans include some coverage.
Some areas of the United States offer financial assistance to people who have a lower income and may find it more challenging to purchase hearing aids.
This article discusses hearing aid insurance and what to expect from various insurers. It also examines insurance alternatives, such as long-term financing.
Hearing aids can be expensive, often costing thousands of dollars. These prices often include the cost of the hearing aids and the professional services involved in hearing tests and device fitting.
Only around 25% of adults in the United States who need hearing aids have them, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF). The foundation adds that while most private insurance plans pay for a hearing test, they usually provide only $500 to $1,000 every 2–5 years toward the cost of a hearing aid.
Learn more about the cost of hearing aids here.
The primary health insurance providers offer the following hearing care coverage.
When an individual has original Medicare’s Part B outpatient coverage for more than 12 months, the plan covers an annual wellness visit that can include a hearing loss screening. Part B will also cover a hearing test if a doctor or medical practitioner orders it. However, the plan does not pay for hearing aids or counseling about hearing test results.
Original Medicare covers a cochlear implant, a small electronic device that simulates the auditory nerve. The coverage includes the surgery and follow-up programming.
Instead of enrolling in original Medicare, some older adults enroll in Medicare Advantage, or Part C. Certain Medicare Advantage plans provide hearing coverage or offer the option of adding coverage at an additional cost.
Learn more about Medicare and hearing aids here.
Medicaid often covers the cost of hearing aids for adults, and they must cover the cost of hearing aids for children. The amount of coverage Medicaid offers can vary, and although a state may offer coverage, people may have difficulty finding a provider who accepts Medicaid.
Learn more about Medicare and Medicaid here.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provides audiology services and hearing aids to military veterans at little or no charge. To receive the coverage, veterans must have a predefined minimum hearing loss, and their active service must have caused the loss.
Private health insurers
Only a small number of private health insurers cover hearing care. When employer-based insurers offer coverage, it tends to be modest. Employees who have a flexible spending account (FSA) may contribute pre-tax income to their account, which they may use to purchase hearing aids.
Below are three insurers and the hearing aid coverage they provide.
Humana is an insurer that provides several types of Medicare plans, including Medicare Advantage plans. It does not offer non-Medicare health insurance.
An example of a Humana Medicare Advantage plan in Los Angeles provides the following hearing care benefits:
- $0 copayment for a Medicare-covered hearing exam
- $0 copayment for hearing aid fitting and adjustments up to two per year
- $699–$999 copay for one hearing aid per year
Individuals with a Humana plan must use TruHearing for their hearing care.
Aetna offers both Medicare and non-Medicare plans. Their non-Medicare plans do not include hearing aid coverage other than a routine hearing screening, and in some instances, a non-routine hearing test.
In this example of an Aetna Medicare Advantage plan, they provide hearing benefits that include:
- 100% coverage of one routine yearly hearing exam and hearing aid fitting
- up to $1,250 per ear each year toward the cost of a hearing aid
Anthem sells Medicare and non-Medicare plans. The non-Medicare plans offer hearing benefits only at an additional fee.
An example of an Anthem Medicare Advantage plan includes the following benefits:
- $0 or $35–$40 copay for hearing exam with in-network doctors
- set maximum per year for hearing care, such as $1,500 or $3,000
If a person who has one of the non-Medicare Anthem plans purchases an add-on hearing benefit, they will have a 20% copayment for:
- audiological exams
- hearing aids
- hearing aid fittings
Some areas offer financial assistance, such as a loan or “gift of a hearing aid,” for children and adults.
Some hearing aid banks loan the devices to children in need. A person may contact Early Hearing Detection & Intervention to see if their area has any loan banks.
According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) or a state’s early intervention program may also cover hearing aids for children.
Nonprofit organizations, such as the Lions Club, may provide help for people who cannot afford the price of hearing aids. Some organizations offer financial assistance or a loan program, while others offer refurbished or used hearing aids.
An individual can search this list of organizations who might offer financial support. To find relevant organizations in their area, a person can contact the NIDCD Information Clearinghouse.
Below are some companies that make hearing aids for consideration:
Widex hearing aids
Widex makes hearing aid models that sit behind the ear and models that sit inside the ear. Instead of using batteries, they are rechargeable. The company claims its hearing aids provide pure, natural sound.
Only Widex-authorized dealers sell Widex hearing aids. Most dealers accept insurance and likely have financing options that may involve small monthly payments.
Learn more about Widex hearing aids here.
ReSound makes a wide variety of hearing aids, including digital, Bluetooth, and rechargeable. The company claims the devices closely mimic the ears’ natural collection of sounds and transmits them to the brain.
Certain hearing care professionals sell ReSound hearing aids. Most of them accept insurance and may offer financing options.
Learn more about the ReSound brand here.
Lively makes rechargeable and battery-operated hearing aids. Instead of going to an authorized dealer, a person may purchase hearing aids directly from the website. The company offers a 3-year warranty and a 100-day money-back guarantee.
Lively accepts insurance. Alternatively, someone who makes a purchase may enroll in the financing plan that involves monthly payments at 0% interest for 36 months.
Learn more about Lively here.
Hearing loss affects 1 in 3 people between 65–74 years, and nearly half of those over 75 years note the NIDCD. It can affect many aspects of life, such as enjoying conversations with family and friends. Loss of hearing can also present a danger if someone cannot hear a car horn or an alarm.
In addition, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) note that hearing loss might worsen or contribute to the development of:
A person who has trouble hearing should seek professional advice. They may start with their primary care doctor or make an appointment with one of the following:
- otolaryngologist: a doctor who specializes in the ear, nose, and throat
- audiologist: a professional with training in measuring hearing loss and recommending treatment
- hearing aid specialist: a professional with a state license to conduct basic hearing tests and fit hearing aids
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) states that buying a hearing aid online involves risks. When shopping for hearing aids, people should take their time and make sure the written purchase agreement includes guarantees about maintenance and service.
Because most health insurers and original Medicare do not offer hearing aid coverage under their standard plans, many people who need the devices simply manage without them.
One solution that authorized hearing aid dealers usually provide is financing. This means a person may get the devices on credit and make small monthly payments for a set time, such as 3 years.
Other organizations, such as Medicaid or local non-profits, may also offer financial aid or lower-cost devices.
Originally Appeared Here