Did you know that approximately a quarter of seniors ages 65 to 74 and half of seniors over 75 have hearing loss? But less than 30 percent of those same people wear a hearing aid, even though they’d benefit from it. The reason? Hearing aids aren’t covered by Original Medicare.
Is Hearing Covered By Any Parts of Medicare?
Medicare Part A and Part B (Original Medicare) not only don’t cover hearing aids, they also don’t pay for basic hearing exams or fittings for hearing aids. Which means, if you rely on Original Medicare alone, you’ll be responsible for 100 percent of the cost for a hearing aid or any routine exams.
However, if your doctor orders you a hearing and balance exam, it might be covered by Medicare Part B (medical insurance). You would typically pay 20 percent of the Medicare-approved amount for the exam — the Part B deductible of <$185> may also apply. In addition, if your hearing and balance exam has to be done in an outpatient hospital setting, you’d also owe the copayment for Medicare Part A (hospital insurance).
Medicare Advantage (Part C) Plans and Hearing Aids
So what’s the solution if you need coverage for hearing? Sign up for a Medicare Advantage (Part C) plan. You’ll get comprehensive hospital and medical benefits, and many plans provide additional coverage for hearing aids, routine hearing exams, hearing aid fittings, hearing aid maintenance and hearing-related prescription drugs.
Medicare Advantage plans vary among insurance providers and regions, and some require a monthly premium while others have $0 premiums (no monthly cost to belong to the plan). Whether it’s an HMO or PPO, a Medicare Advantage plan is a good option if you’ve been diagnosed with hearing loss or just want to be proactive about any future hearing needs.
More Resources for Seniors Who Need Hearing Aids
In addition to signing up for a Medicare Advantage plan, low-income seniors who qualify for Medicaid may be able to get hearing aid coverage through the Nevada Medicaid system. The Foundation for Sight and Sound and Lions Club International also help people with limited finances afford corrective hearing devices. For seniors who have served in the armed forces, financial assistance may be available through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
Hearing Aid Options Available
If you’re suffering from hearing loss, there are many options available at many different price points. Some very basic hearing aids cost hundreds of dollars, while other more advanced models are well into the thousands.
For example, you might choose completely in-the-canal hearing aids for mild or moderate hearing loss because these have low visibility and a very basic operation. Or, in-the-canal hearing aids which are custom-molded and fit partly in the ear canal. Or, you may opt for in-the-ear hearing aids that fill the bowl-shaped area of your outer ear or just the lower half-shell part.
For more severe hearing loss, many people wear behind-the-ear hearing aids that use a tube to connect the hearing aid to a custom earpiece. Another option is an open-fit hearing aid, which keeps the ear canal open.
When comparing different styles of hearing aids, it’s important to understand their features and choose one that fits your needs. Common features include telecoils to make phone conversations easier, noise reduction, rechargeable batteries, remote controls, wireless connectivity and environmental noise control. Fortunately, many hearing aids come with a trial period so you can try them out before committing to one.
Hearing Aid Help from Intermountain Healthcare, formerly HealthCare Partners Nevada
We understand how devastating hearing loss can be. Not being able to hear well can affect your personal relationships, impact your safety, and cause anxiety, depression or loneliness.
If you have a Medicare Advantage plan, we’ve developed a specialized primary care program just for you. It’s called myGeneration. Through this program, we offer senior clinics staffed by physicians and care teams that specialize in senior care and truly understand how your health needs change over time.
At myGeneration Senior Clinics, we’ll answer questions about your Medicare options and help you make the best decisions for your hearing needs and overall health. We’re redefining senior care in Southern Nevada and making access to high-quality healthcare easier and more convenient than ever before.
To see if a myGeneration Senior Clinic is in-network for you, call us at 702-852-9000.