Do Medicare Supplement plans cover hearing aids
Do Medicare Supplement plans cover hearing aids?
The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) reports that about 37.5 million adults across the United States have some level of hearing loss. However, most of them do not reap the benefits that hearing aids can offer. “For many, assistive technologies such as hearing aids could significantly improve their quality of life, yet only about one in four of those who could benefit from hearing aids has ever used them.”
According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), contributing factors of hearing loss are age, noise, genetics and chronic disease, such as chronic kidney disorders, diabetes and heart conditions. Many adults ignore their hearing loss for years, much to the chagrin of their family members.
ASHA states that hearing loss has been linked to depression, anxiety, fatigue, frustration and self-isolation. Aside from denial of hearing loss, a deterrent to purchasing hearing aids is the expense. AARP reports that digital hearing aids average about $1,500, and you may have to pay $5,000 for a high-end version.
Because Original Medicare benefits do not cover everything, many Medicare recipients buy Medicare Supplement Insurance policies. This insurance, also known as Medigap, helps to reduce out-of-pocket medical expenses. Medigap coverage supplements Original Medicare benefits by covering coinsurance and hospital costs, copayments, deductibles, blood and foreign travel emergencies.
Hearing aids as well as the exams to get fitted for these devices are excluded from Medicare benefits. However, Medicare Supplement plans are standardized, and these plans do not offer this coverage either.
Medicare Advantage (MA) plans, or Part C, are an alternative to Original Medicare, encompassing Part A and Part B coverage. Many MA plans cover hearing as well as vision and dental. If you have an MA plan, check your Evidence of Coverage to see if you have these benefits.
If your MA plan does not cover hearing devices and exams, explore other MA plans in your area before the MA open enrollment period ends. You can switch MA plans between January 1 and March 31. If you are not currently an MA plan member but wish to join, you will have to wait until the open enrollment period that takes place between October 15 and December 7.
You do not have the option for coverage under a Medicare Advantage and a Medicare Supplement plan at the same time. In fact, it is illegal for an insurance company to sell you a Medicare Supplement plan if you are an MA plan member unless you are going to drop the MA plan and revert to Original Medicare.
Hearing loss resources include NIDCD at nidcd.nih.gov/health/hearing-ear-infections-deafness/adult-hearing-health-care and ASHA at asha.org/articles/untreated-hearing-loss-in-adults/.
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