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Original Medicare doesn't cover hearing aids or most related services.
Most Medicare Advantage plans have at least some hearing aid coverage, but your costs will vary.
People without coverage might want to check out newly available and less expensive over-the-counter hearing aids.
Original Medicare doesn’t cover hearing aids or exams needed to fit hearing aids. However, it does cover certain hearing diagnostics and services that aren’t related to hearing aids.
Most Medicare Advantage plans do offer hearing coverage. The specifics of what’s covered and how vary from plan to plan.
But there’s good news for people paying out of pocket for hearing aids: Hearing aids are now available over the counter (OTC), and those hearing aids can be considerably cheaper than prescription ones.
Here’s what you need to know about Medicare coverage for hearing aids.
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Does Original Medicare cover hearing aids?
Original Medicare doesn’t cover hearing aids. Neither do most Medigap plans — but you might find some that offer add-on hearing coverage for an extra cost.
There are two scenarios when Original Medicare covers certain hearing services, according to Medicare.gov:
With a doctor’s order, you’re covered for diagnostic hearing and balance exams to find out whether you need medical treatment.
Up to once per 12 months without a doctor’s order, you can see an audiologist for non-acute hearing conditions (like gradual hearing loss) or diagnostic services related to hearing loss treated with surgically implanted hearing devices.
Does Medicare Advantage cover hearing aids?
Medicare Advantage plans are sold by private health insurance companies, and their benefits vary.
By law, Medicare Advantage (Medicare Part C) must provide at least as much coverage as Original Medicare — though it can come with additional costs and network restrictions. Many plans also offer extra benefits.
Most Medicare Advantage plans do cover hearing aids, although there may be out-of-pocket costs and/or limits on the maximum amount they'll pay. Your initial hearing exam may even be free if you use an in-network doctor.
Copays for hearing aids vary dramatically among insurers, ranging from $0 to well over $1,000 per hearing aid. For this reason, it’s important to examine and compare all available plans carefully before making your choice.
Check whether prices, out-of-pocket costs and maximum allowances are per pair or per hearing aid — insurance companies and hearing aid sellers vary.
If you have Original Medicare and want to switch to Medicare Advantage, you can make the move during the annual Medicare open enrollment period from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7. During the Medicare Advantage open enrollment period from Jan. 1 to March 31, you can switch from one Medicare Advantage plan to another.
» MORE: Medicare vs. Medicare Advantage
Medicare Advantage companies
Get more information below about some of the major Medicare Advantage companies. These insurance companies offer plans in most states. The plans you can choose from will depend on your ZIP code and county.
What do hearing aids cost?
Prescription hearing aids: $1,000 to $8,000 per pair
The price for a pair of prescription hearing aids typically ranges from around $1,000 for low-end models to as much as $8,000 for premium devices. This price tag may also include a consultation, hearing test, fitting and follow-up adjustments. Some sellers include periodic cleanings, battery replacements and a warranty that provides future cleanings, fittings and protection against damage or loss.
Over-the-counter hearing aids: $200 to $3,000 per pair
Much less expensive OTC hearing aids are on the market as of late 2022. The average cost of OTC hearing aids is about $1,600 per pair, according to the National Council on Aging.
Some budget models can cost as little as about $200 per pair. On the higher end, premium models can cost as much as $3,000 per pair, overlapping with the price of some prescription hearing aid options.
Hearing aid discounts
Lowering your hearing aid costs can sometimes be as simple as speaking up. When purchasing hearing aids, ask what discounts are available. Veterans, union members and people with company retirement plans or other kinds of insurance may have access to additional price breaks.
How do I know whether I need hearing aids?
Hearing loss can be gradual and subtle, so sometimes it’s hard to determine whether it has really gotten that bad. The best way to know whether you’d benefit from hearing aids is by having a hearing exam. Here are a few signs that it's time to think about scheduling one:
Everyone keeps telling you you’ve got the TV or the radio turned up too loud.
It’s hard to understand what people are saying when you can’t see their faces.
It often sounds like others are mumbling.
You’re struggling to hear conversations in group settings like dinner gatherings or parties.
You’re missing some of what the actors say in movies or at plays.
You often have to ask others to repeat themselves.
It can be hard to hear on the phone.
It has become difficult to hear higher-pitched voices or sounds.
You don’t always hear the phone or doorbell ring.
To set up a hearing exam, contact your primary doctor or health care provider for more information or a referral, if necessary.
What Medicare covers
Medicare covers a lot of things — but not everything. Find out where Medicare stands in the following areas: