The ability to hear clearly is one of the most important parts of communication, but unfortunately, many people experience hearing loss with age. Part of this is due to a lifetime of exposure to loud noises will often hasten the onset of symptoms, but others may develop hearing problems due to injury or disease. The potential for this to occur only grows with time.
Testing and Treatment for Hearing Loss
If you or your doctor suspect hearing loss, the first step in treating the problem is to test your hearing to obtain a diagnosis. A hearing test is usually provided by an audiologist who will have you sit in a quiet room while you wear headphones. Sounds will be played through the headphones at different frequencies, and you will be asked to signal when you can hear a sound. This type of test will help your audiologist and physician to determine the level of hearing loss and possibly its cause.
Once diagnosed, you may need corrective surgery, but in most cases, hearing aids are the preferred treatment for general hearing loss. Today’s hearing aid technology has evolved to allow for the reproduction of natural sound instead of simply amplifying all sounds. Traditional hearing aids require replaceable batteries, but modern options may be rechargeable. It should be noted that hearing problems do tend to get worse over time, so you will likely need to be re-evaluated by an audiologist on a regular basis as you age in order to adjust your hearing aid prescription.
Does Medicare Cover Hearing Aids?
While Medicare benefits do provide coverage for surgical procedures in most cases when ordered by a physician, the program does not cover the cost of hearing tests or hearing aids. Part of the reason for this is that hearing aids are not considered a life-preserving necessity, leaving Medicare recipients to pay out of pocket for all expenses related to hearing tests and hearing aids. With this stated, Medicare should cover the initial physician’s office visit to discuss your hearing concerns as this would be considered a typical outpatient visit and would be covered under Medicare Part B.
Do Medicare Supplement Plans Cover Hearing Aids?
Although Original Medicare benefits do not cover hearing tests or hearing aids, it is possible that you could receive either full coverage, partial coverage or a reimbursement for expenses related to hearing aids through a supplemental insurance plan. This is because Medicare Supplement, or Medigap, policies may provide benefits through various partnerships with medical equipment manufacturers. Additionally, some Medicare Supplement plan providers will have more room to negotiate regarding what will and will not be covered.
Although some Medicare Supplement plans may offer coverage for hearing aid benefits in the form of discounts or reimbursements, it’s important to point out that hearing aids are usually not covered outright. On the other hand, plans that encompass Medigap insurance can help to cover the cost that is passed on to the patient for hearing tests. Medigap is meant to provide coverage for deductibles, premiums and other expenses that are not covered by Original Medicare.