The majority of major insurers who offer Medicare Advantage plans have at least one plan that covers hearing aids. These insurers include Humana, Aetna and Blue Cross Blue Shield. However, some seniors may not be eligible for those plans, and the plans may have a higher premium than those that don’t offer hearing aid coverage.
Seniors who need coverage for hearing care, including testing and hearing aids, should begin by contacting their Medicare Advantage provider to determine whether it’s covered under their existing plan. If not, their insurer can generally suggest a more suitable plan that offers the coverage they need. However, seniors who want to switch plans may need to wait until the general enrollment period to make the change. That occurs every year from October 15 to December 7.
If a senior is already working with an audiologist or other hearing care provider, it’s a good idea to ask the provider which Medicare Advantage plans are accepted at that clinic. Medicare Advantage plans generally only cover care at in-network providers, so selecting a plan that is already accepted can help guarantee that there’s no need to find a new health care provider.
Original Medicare does not cover hearing aids or most other types of hearing-related care. Seniors who are experiencing hearing loss, or expect to need hearing care in the future, should generally buy a Medicare Advantage plan unless they want to pay out-of-pocket for their hearing aids. The exception is for people who receive care through the Veterans Administration, as the VA covers hearing aids and other hearing care for eligible seniors.
Hearing aids can vary significantly in cost, but most basic models cost around $1,500. Specialized hearing aids can cost between $5,000 and $7,000. In addition, seniors often have to pay for hearing tests and other specialized care to determine whether they need hearing aids.
Medicare Advantage plans that offer hearing coverage will cover some or all of that cost. The actual amount covered depends on the specific plan and may vary based on factors, such as the premium amount, deductible level and how much the insured has already paid out-of-pocket for co-pays and other expenses during that calendar year.