Best Practices Checklist

Hearing Aids & Insurance | Part 1 - Does Medicare Pay For Hearing Aids? |

By: Dr Cliff Olson
May 15, 2018
Video Transcript

Does Medicare Cover Hearing Aids?

This is probably the number one question when it comes to insurance related questions involving hearing aids.  Simple answer: it depends.  While it doesn't cover traditional hearing aids, it will cover hearing evaluations, cochlear implants, bone conduction hearing aids, and most ear related medical procedures.Hearing Evaluations require a referral from a physician at the current moment (5/14/18).  However, the referral can't be for the purpose of fitting hearing aids.  It must be because there is a medical concern involving your hearing loss.  There is legislation called The Audiology Patient Choice Act which is intended to give Medicare recipients direct access to an audiologist for hearing evaluations.  

However, it hasn't passed yet.  I strongly encourage you to contact your representatives to encourage them to support the APCA :  requesting pre-written letters be sent to your representatives on your behalf can help to support the cause.Cochlear Implants are usually covered by Medicare.  At least one ear if your hearing is bad enough.  Generally, any surgical device related to hearing loss will be covered by Medicare.  Sometimes, event the fitting and counseling of these devices is covered to a certain extent.Medicare will NOT cover traditional hearing aids.  There is speculation as to why.  

According to an article published in the Hearing Journal, there are 3 possible reasons.  

1. Research has not provided the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) with enough evidence that Hearing Aids are effective.

2. Hearing aids are Class 1 or 2 medical devices instead of Class 3 like cochlear implants.  Apparently, hearing aid manufacturers have not quantified the benefit of hearing aids despite mounds of research showing their benefit to overall health.

3. Physicians are not required in the process.  Physicians are not needed in the process of dispensing hearing aids.  Since CMS is comprised primarily of physicians, they decide what to cover and what not to recover.  

There is another area of speculation which is cost to Medicare.  Since hearing loss is so common, providing that many individuals with hearing aids would bankrupt Medicare.  Since 90% of hearing losses require the use of Hearing aids as the best and only treatment option, you will have to find another way to pay for hearing aids.  Perhaps your supplemental insurance will cover a portion.  To learn more about supplemental insurances and if they cover hearing aids, check out Hearing Aids and Insurance Part 2.

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