We all know that hearing aids are an investment. With a rapidly aging population, and one third of seniors over 65 living with hearing loss, annual expenditure on hearing aids is very high.
Hearing aids can be costly, especially if they are purchased from a big box retailer, or large audiology practice. So does Medicare cover hearing aids? Sadly, the answer is no. Medicare’s Plan B health insurance covers only the basics, including routine tests, doctor appointments, and some surgeries. Shockingly, hearing health has not been considered a basic health need, even with rising numbers of seniors struggling to hear.
Doesn’t Medicare cover hearing tests? Medicare will cover 80% of hearing tests if ordered by a doctor. However, these tests will only be ordered in case of illness or injury. Doctors do not order hearing tests for hearing loss caused by age or noise, the most common causes of hearing loss. Even in the case of injury, Medicare will cover only the hearing test, not the hearing aids.
New legislation around hearing health has recently been tabled. If passed, this legislation would make hearing health a mandatory part of basic coverage, forcing Medicare to cover the costs of hearing tests and hearing aids in all states. In the summer of 2015, U.S. Representative Matt Cartwright reintroduced the Help Extend Auditory Relief (HEAR) Act, H.R 2748 to include hearing tests and hearing aids as part of mandatory health coverage. Medicare’s Plan B would extend coverage to include audiology assessment and the cost of hearing aids! This act is supported by the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare (NCPSSM) and the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA).
For low-income seniors, hearing loss is a real struggle. Since hearing aids can cost hundreds or thousands of dollars, many seniors decide they simply cannot afford the expense. What many people fail to realize is the even higher costs of living with hearing loss. Untreated hearing loss leads to an increased risk of developing anxiety, depression, or paranoia, and an earlier onset of dementia. Also linked to untreated hearing loss is an increased rate of brain cell damage, meaning that hearing gets much worse if left untreated, and the brain suffers permanent damage that a new hearing aid a year from now cannot fix.
For hard of hearing seniors without hearing aids, conversations with family and friends becomes a frustration, as they are unable to fully understand what is happening around them. Quality of life is reduced as daily tasks of life become a struggle.
If you have hearing loss, it is highly recommended that you invest in your hearing health. Approximately 70% of seniors who would benefit from a pair of hearing aids do not have them. Untreated hearing loss affects not only your overall wellbeing, but can also impact your whole family as well. Coverage is coming soon, but until then, don’t wait! Invest in your health,
Our practice understands how essential affordable hearing aids and hearing services are for those experiencing hearing loss. That is why we offer