Get Help Paying for Hearing Aids

Related topics: Health & Wellness, Legal & Financial, Financial, Getting Organized

Woman at the audiologist's office

In the previous article, "What’s That, Valentine? Speak Up!" experts make a strong case for enabling seniors who have hearing loss to be fitted with hearing aids. Some seniors resist using these assistive devices. "They make me look old" or "I can’t adjust them correctly, so I don't wear them" are common excuses. But perhaps the top impediment is that hearing aids are expensive — and health care plans seldom cover them.

In today's era of across-the-board cutbacks, and with Medicare cuts possibly looming, that's not likely to change. But seniors may have options to help cover the costs. Here is some information from the National Council on Aging (NCOA):

Hearing loss affects nine million seniors in the U.S. today. Yet while Medicare pays for a wide range of services, including many preventive benefits, it does not pay for hearing aids and routine hearing tests.

Does Medicare cover hearing aids and tests?

Original Medicare (Parts A & B) does not cover hearing exams, or hearing aids and fittings.

Medicare Part B does cover diagnostic hearing and balance exams if a provider orders these tests to see if a person requires medical treatment for a condition other than hearing loss. For example, such tests may be used to diagnose the cause of dizziness or vertigo.

If you have a Medicare Advantage plan, check with your plan to see whether any hearing services or supplies are covered.

Where can I get help paying for hearing aids and tests?

Sertoma is a civic service organization that helps connect people with hearing assistance. Sertoma has a comprehensive listing of national and state charitable programs, organized by state.

The Better Hearing Institute maintains a comprehensive, free Guide to Financial Assistance for Hearing Aids that can be downloaded online.

Some local Lions’ Clubs run the Affordable Hearing Aid Project, which distributes three types of affordable hearing aids through a partnership with Rexton, Inc., a hearing device manufacturer. Call 630-203-3837 for more information, or contact your local Lions’ Club chapter to see if it offers the program.

How do I know if I need my hearing checked?

NCOA and the Hearing Loss Association of America, with support from United Health Foundation, recently partnered to educate older adults about the signs of hearing loss and reasons to get help. Be sure to check out the Hearing Loss: It's a Family Affair brochure and companion video.  

The National Council on Aging (NCOA) is a respected national leader and trusted partner to help people aged 60+ meet the challenges of aging. Their mission is to improve the lives of millions of older adults, especially those who are struggling. Through innovative community programs and services, online help, and advocacy, NCOA is partnering with nonprofit organizations, government, and business to improve the health and economic security of 10 million older adults by 2020.