Medicare doesn't cover hearing aids or hearing aid fitting tests. You pay 100% of the cost of hearing aids and exams. It may cover a doctor-ordered hearing test or treatment for a hearing related medical condition, but Medicare will not pay for hearing improvement devices or tests that fit them. You are responsible for 100 percent of these costs.
Unfortunately, Original Medicare doesn't cover the cost of hearing aids or their maintenance. However, that doesn't necessarily mean you're out of luck. Some Medicare Advantage providers offer plans with coverage for hearing aids, which can significantly reduce out-of-pocket costs. Unfortunately, Original Medicare (Medicare Part A and Part B) does not consider hearing aids to be medically necessary.
Original Medicare does not offer coverage for hearing aids or hearing aid accessories. Therefore, beneficiaries are responsible for 100% of these costs with Original Medicare. A question many Medicare beneficiaries ask is: “Will Medicare pay for my hearing aid? Although Part B doesn't cover hearing aids, it does cover diagnostic hearing and balance tests if your doctor or other health care provider orders these tests to see if you need medical treatment for a recent injury or illness, such as vertigo or other balance problems. This means that these plans will offer free hearing screenings if the procedure meets Medicare requirements and if you have already met the Part B deductible.
If hearing loss is affecting your ability to work, you can also consider Social Security disability benefits. It's important to note that not all Medicare Advantage plans are available in all areas and there may not be plans available where you live that cover hearing aids. There is broader coverage in all types of Medicare for hearing examinations and implantable hearing devices. Older adults often want to know if Medicare will cover hearing aids for certain conditions, such as tinnitus.
Over-the-counter hearing aids, which can be purchased without a professional hearing test, can be much cheaper. Keep in mind that hearing benefits vary widely with Medicare Advantage plans, and partial coverage could still cause you high out-of-pocket costs. Medicare benefits for hearing screenings are much better, and you can get coverage through Medicare Part B, Medicare Supplement or Medicare Advantage plans. You may feel that hearing aids are medically necessary, but Medicare Part B doesn't cover the cost of most people.
The specific hearing health services and items covered will vary by plan, so be sure to carefully review the plans available in your area and ask how coverage and costs work. There was also no understanding of how important it is to treat hearing loss to reduce depression and social isolation. Original Medicare, and even many private insurance companies, choose not to cover hearing aids because of their cost. As this clinical review explains, the Medicare Act of 1965 legally excluded coverage of hearing aids on the premise that they were “routinely necessary and inexpensive,” suggesting that consumers would be responsible for their purchase.