It must be true. Older people may lose their hearing – or at least some older people may lose some of their hearing, I know there are people reading this who have trouble hearing but will adamantly state they do not. I did that for a while. Now, I think I’m really missing some things people say.
One in 4 people from 65-74 have a disabling hearing loss, according to AARP – and I’m a few years older than 74. It surprises everyone (especially the younger set) when they find out that Medicare and most supplement plans don’t cover hearing aids, routine hearing exams or fittings for hearing aids.
This means that without other insurance, you could pay 100 percent of the cost for routine hearing exams, fittings and hearing aids. Now where in the world would those folks who need hearing help the most find an extra few thousand dollars? The average cost for one hearing aid in this country is $2,300. What if you need aids for both ears?
It’s mind-boggling to think that Medicare – something to help seniors, primarily – doesn’t cover hearing aids and exams.
Medicare Part B covers diagnostic hearing tests that your doctor orders for a medical need like a recent hearing loss due to illness or injury. If your doctor orders a diagnostic hearing test, then you would pay 20 percent of the amount approved by Medicare, plus the Medicare Part B deductible.
Some Medicare Advantage plans (Medicare Part C) cover hearing exams and hearing aids. Medicare Advantage plans often offer benefits not typically included with Original Medicare (Part A and Part B), such as routine hearing exams and hearing aids.
Since each Medicare Advantage plan is different, you should compare plans carefully to find one that fits all of your medical needs. If you have insurance that covers hearing exams, such as a Medicare Advantage plan or Medicaid, follow your plan’s instructions for getting an exam. If your doctor does not perform hearing exams, he or she may refer you to a specialist.
The cost for hearing aids ranges from hundreds to thousands of dollars. If you have health insurance that covers hearing aids, such as a Medicare Advantage plan, be sure to read your plan documents carefully, because you may only be covered if you buy your hearing aid from certain suppliers or through a certain process. If you don’t have such coverage, you can buy hearing aids wherever you want.
Some states have hearing-related benefits, including coverage for hearing aids, for qualified residents through Medicaid and other state programs. In some places, the Lions Clubs have plans to help the low-income seniors with hearing aid needs. I am about to delve into this issue,as I need to be completely knowledgeable – or as close as I can get – before I make that appointment to find out what I’m missing.
Kay Soldier welcomes reader ideas for column topics of interest to seniors. She can be reached by email at [email protected], or write to 114 Tandberg Trail, Windham, ME 04062.