The first obstacle to maximizing your Medicare benefits is understanding what is and isn’t covered. If you’re transitioning from comprehensive medical coverage through an employer, you may find the list of what isn’t covered by Original Medicare a bit unsettling. The good news is that you have coverage options, and there is a way to possibly get Medicare to cover at least some of your hearing care expenses.
Original Medicare Hearing Aid Coverage 2022
Original Medicare includes Part A and Part B coverage. Beneficiaries who stick with this basic coverage will use:
- Medicare Part A for hospital care
- Medicare Part B for routine doctor appointments and preventative services.
- Neither of these parts include coverage for hearing or vision care, so most beneficiaries secure separate insurance policies if they want hearing care coverage.
Does Medicare Cover Hearing Exams?
Original Medicare doesn’t cover hearing exams for the purpose of fitting hearing aids. However it is important to recognize the following:
- If your doctor believes a hearing issue is impacting your balance or contributing to another legitimate medical concern, then Medicare may cover a hearing exam for medical purposes.
- The reason the exam is ordered will determine your available coverage.
- Original Medicare beneficiaries will pay 20% of the Medicare-approved costs for a hearing exam after meeting the Part B deductible. That deductible is $233 for 2022.
Does Medicare Cover Hearing Aids?
Original Medicare doesn’t cover hearing aids regardless of any of the circumstances:
- Even if a hearing exam is covered due to a potential underlying medical condition, the resulting recommendation of a hearing aid isn’t covered by Medicare.
- Even if the hearing aid may help improve balance or manage a medical condition, no coverage is offered for the hearing aid itself.
- Beneficiaries will pay 100% of the cost of a hearing aid if they stick with standard Original Medicare coverage.
How to Get Medicare to Cover Hearing Aids and Hearing Care
If Original Medicare doesn’t offer coverage for hearing care there are three ways to get the coverage you need:
- If you want to stick with Original Medicare coverage, look for a separate policy to cover your hearing needs: You may look for policies that also include dental and vision, which are also not covered by Medicare Parts A and B. You will pay separate premiums and maintain these added policies independent of your Medicaid coverage.
- Enroll in a Medicare Advantage Plan that includes hearing exams and hearing aids: Your policy will take the place of Original Medicare, so you will receive a new insurance card to present to providers in place of the red, white, and blue Medicare card. Insurance companies have the freedom to add coverage for hearing care and may also include dental, vision, and/or prescription drug coverage. Everything is in one plan, so you pay one premium for all benefits.
- Enroll in a Medicare Supplement Plan through an insurance company that also offers an add-on plan for hearing care: There are no supplemental plans that include coverage for hearing exams or hearing aids. The add-on policies allow you to extend your coverage while working with one insurance company to simplify the process of managing multiple policies.
The final option is to simply pay for your own hearing exams and hearing aids. There are many pros and cons to opting for one of the Original Medicare alternatives, so make sure you understand the difference in policies before making this decision.
When Will Medicare Cover Hearing Aids?
It doesn’t make a lot of sense for coverage designed to meet the needs of seniors to exclude coverage for hearing care. According to data collected in 2019, approximately 27% of adults aged 65 and older experienced some level of hearing difficulty. That number increases with age.
For seniors struggling with hearing loss, the impact on quality of life is potentially devastating. If you can’t hear well, you struggle to hold meaningful conversations with others. Communication limitations have an impact on your social life and may impact any business interactions that you still enjoy.
Hearing exams are often recommended by medical providers whenever a senior is struggling with hearing or balance issues. A hearing aid can make the difference between social withdraw and a healthy social life that keeps seniors connected to their communities and happy.
Hope for the Future
In 2021, democrats in congress started pushing for the inclusion of a hearing benefit in Original Medicare. The idea hasn’t passed its way through the political channels and is still a way from becoming official. For now it is important to note that:
- Many seniors and industry experts are still clinging to hope that the idea will eventually get included in the big changes coming up for Medicare policy.
- Original Medicare continues to exclude hearing care along with vision and dental care.
- If you want that coverage, you have some alternative coverage options to consider.
- Hearing Exam Coverage, Medicare.
- 2022 Medicare Parts A and B Premiums and Deductibles/2022 Medicare Part D Income-Related Monthly Adjustment Amounts, CMS.
- Hearing Aid Coverage, Medicare.
- 4 of the Biggest Changes for Medicare in 2022, AARP.