When you’re ready to buy hearing aids, you don’t want to waste time figuring out if you qualify for cash aid. Based on how most people receive financial support, we’ve put together a prioritized list below to help you figure out your options.
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does health insurance cover hearing aids?
Hearing aids are generally not covered by health insurance, although insurers sometimes offer optional hearing/vision/dental plans that may include coverage for hearing tests and hearing aid fittings.
Other options for paying for your hearing aids may include financing offered by your hearing care professional, credit from a third party such as carecredit, charities or help from family. Research all of your options to find the best fit for your hearing needs and budget.
coverage varies by plan
Most health insurers do not provide coverage for hearing aids. To determine if your health insurance covers hearing aids, check with your individual plan. Most plans have a toll-free phone number for member services that is listed on your insurance card. Even if you do have it, hearing aid insurance coverage varies in how it’s administered. Here are some types of real-life benefits to hearing aids:
- A health plan may pay a specific amount toward the purchase of aid, such as $500 or $1,000. this amount may be allowed for the entire purchase of the hearing aid (whether you purchase one or two hearing aids), or the amount may be allowed per ear. the benefit can be renewed after a set number of years, usually 3-5 years.
- A health plan may give you an allowance for hearing aids if you purchase them from a contracted provider. An allowance is a specific amount that is subtracted from the total purchase price. For example, if the cost of a pair of instruments is $4,000 and your health plan has an allowance of $1,500, your out-of-pocket cost would be $2,500. this benefit can also be renewed every few years.
- A health plan may have negotiated discounts with contracted providers. this means you must buy from a vendor to get a specific discount (for example, 20%) off the retail price.
Each health plan is different and hearing aid coverage within a plan may vary by geographic location. For example, Kaiser Permanente offers a hearing aid benefit with a per-ear credit option available every 36 months. this benefit is specifically available in the colorado service area, but not in the oregon, washington, ohio, georgia, maryland, virginia, or washington dc areas. They state that there is a potential benefit available in Hawaii and California, but users are advised to check the type of coverage available.
Currently, about 23 states require health insurance companies to provide full or partial coverage for hearing aids for children. five states (arkansas, connecticut, illinois, new hampshire, rhode island) also extend those mandates to adults.
Check with your insurance provider to find out if you qualify for a hearing aid benefit.
State-mandated health care coverage for hearing aids will vary from state to state, and several states have pending legislation on coverage for hearing aids. If your state requires coverage, you’ll need to do some research to find out the amount covered and how often a claim can be made, as well as any other requirements for coverage. your hearing care professional can often provide some guidance as you search.
Insurance coverage and discounts are always changing. When you’re considering buying hearing aids, call your insurance provider and ask about their plan.
Ask these questions when calling your insurance company about hearing aids:
- what is the health plan benefit for hearing aids?
- Do I have to use specific providers? If so, can I have a list of providers in my area?
- If the health plan has an allowance or benefit, do I have to pay the provider the full amount and then submit documentation to receive reimbursement? Can the provider bill the health plan directly?
- Is the benefit limited to specific hearing aid models or technology? ask your plan representative to specifically define terms such as “routine” hearing aids.
- Are there criteria or stipulations for coverage? some health plans may require that your hearing loss be to a certain degree in order to receive their benefit.
Find out if you are eligible for the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program through Blue Cross Blue Shield (BC/BS), they will cover up to $2,500 for hearing aids every three years.
Always be sure to check with your insurance provider to determine if you or your loved one qualifies for a hearing aid benefit.
If you don’t live in one of the required states, it doesn’t mean you don’t have hearing aid insurance coverage, it just means your state laws don’t require it. check with your employer or benefits coordinator. Health care systems, teacher retirement groups, state and local government employee groups, and any other major employer or group often coordinate with a network of preferred providers to offer some level of discount or service . be sure to check with these types of organizations if you are a member to see if there are any benefits.
the department of veterans affairs (goes)
The VA is the largest purchaser and supplier of hearing aids in the United States. If you are a veteran or have a service connection, check with your local VA to see if you qualify for hearing-related benefits and services, including the provision of hearing aids.
medicare and medicaid coverage for hearing aids
Medicare does not usually cover hearing aids. You may have some options depending on the type of hearing loss and whether you have a Medicare Advantage plan. read more about medicare and hearing aids.
Medicaid coverage for adult hearing aids varies by state and eligibility is subject to change. This page from the Hearing Loss Association of America allows you to search for Medicaid coverage for hearing care by state. You can also contact your state Medicaid program or visit the national Medicaid website for more information. in each usa state, hearing aids for children are covered by medicaid.
worker’s compensation for hearing loss
If your hearing is damaged at work, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation to help cover the cost of hearing aids and other treatment.
social security benefits for hearing loss
If your hearing loss is affecting your ability to work, you may be eligible for assistance through the Social Security Trust Fund.
discount programs for hearing aids
If you’re a federal employee, the federal employee health plan covers medical problems with your ears and some cover hearing aids, and coverage varies between plans. discounts for some state employees are also available and can be used with your insurance coverage.
You may qualify for discounts on your hearing aid purchase through your association with various memberships, such as AARP, AAA, your health plan, your vision plan, or your union membership. explore your options to find the best value.
I need a hearing aid but I can’t afford it
charity programs and other assistance programs
Do you need help with hearing aids or other hearing care assistance? There are many charitable groups that will provide you with new or used hearing aids at a discount, or even for free, if you meet the financial criteria. We have provided a list of national programs below, but this is not an exhaustive list of organizations. We also recommend reviewing the financial assistance page of hlaa, the hearing loss association of america.
state vocational rehabilitation programs
If hearing aids are required for employment, your state vocational rehabilitation office may offer assistance paying for hearing aids or educational opportunities to improve your skill set. search online for “[your state] vocational rehabilitation program” to find what you need.
website: www.easterseals.com over 400 local service centers with various services; some help low-income adults and children with hearing aids and other rehabilitative devices. visit their website and find your local office for contact information.
protective travelers association of america hearing impaired scholarship foundation
3755 lindell boulevard, street. louis, mo 63108 website: https://www.tpahq.org// the tpa scholarship trust for the hearing impaired provides financial assistance to children and adults with hearing impairments who need assistance obtaining devices, medical treatment, or education or specialized services. there are no age restrictions or requirements for degree of hearing loss; grants are based solely on financial need.
There are many national groups that have programs administered at the local chapter level. Not all local chapters participate in these hearing assistance projects, so you’ll need to contact the one in your area to see if they can help. Some of the groups to consider are the Knights of Columbus, Lions Club, Rotary Club, and Sertoma. If you’re not sure if you have a local group for any of these organizations, your hearing care professional can help you find these and other sources of financial assistance.
hearing aid financing
If you can’t get a third party to help pay for your hearing aids, you may want to consider programs that offer short-term loans or payment plans. check with your hearing care provider for more details or check with the following programs.
phone: 1-800-677-0718 website: www.carecredit.com
carecredit is a financing program for patients. carecredit works like a credit card but is exclusively for health services. is accepted by more than 75,000 providers for a wide range of services including hearing care, vision care, veterinary medicine, dentistry, cosmetic surgery and more. They offer monthly payment options, with no upfront costs for patients, no prepayment penalties, and no annual fees. Short-term interest-free plans are available, as well as longer-term plans with fixed interest rates.
insurance help for implantable hearing systems
If you are interested in an implantable bone anchored hearing system, oticon medical provides insurance reimbursement information for your ponto 4 system.
help with amplified phones
many states have telecommunications distribution programs for people with hearing loss who require special equipment to use the telephone. these programs lend or provide text telephones (ttys), amplified telephones, and other equipment free of charge to residents with hearing loss or other disabilities who require it. A list of programs by state can be found at www.tedpa.org using the “state directory” link. Contact your state program for more information on what equipment is provided, who is eligible to receive it, and how to obtain it.
find a hearing care provider near you
Hearing aid insurance and financing information you find online can guide you in the right direction to help you pay for hearing aids. however, the best help in navigating your particular financial situation and your best resource for sources of financing for hearing aids will come from a local hearing care professional. contact a hearing health professional in your area for help.